Badal Roy (Amerendra "Badal" Roy Choudhury) arrived in New York to attend New York University in 1968 with a pair of tablas and $8 in his pocket. Working at various Indian restaurants as a busboy and waiter, he was eventually asked to play the tabla drums for diners.
As luck would have it, jazz superstar Miles Davis happened to have heard him. Shortly thereafter, he recorded with John McLaughlin and Davis, in what would be the beginning of an enduring musical relationship.
Tabla means "drum" and is a percussion instrument consisting of a pair of hand drums traditionally used to perform religious or folk music of India. Now, the tabla sound is infused with all genres of music.
Today, Badal Roy is the foremost exponent of tabla in jazz music. He has played with artists as diverse as Parliament Funkadelic, Herbie Mann, Dave Liebman, Don Cherry, Pharaoh Sanders, Dizzy Gillespie, Lonnie Liston Smith, Andreas Vollenweider and Yoko Ono.
He has been an integral part of Ornette Coleman's Prime Time since 1988 and is presently collaborating with the guitar duo Brazils Duofel and pianist Michael Wolff's world jazz ensemble, Impure Thoughts.
Jazz legend Roy will be joined by Indianapolis' jazz "sweetheart" violinist Cathy Morris, Miami-based saxophonist Gerald Dmitri, bassist Jason Laughner, pianist Darrie Spurlock and percussionist Baba Yuhdidiyuh in a special fund-raiser (and preview event) for the new Garfield Park Art Center. This unique performance will take place March 31, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the art center in advance (daily 3-6 p.m.) or the day of event. Call 317-327-7066 or e-mail RWillia2@Indygov.org for more information.
Once a family shelter, the newly renovated Garfield Park Arts Center, located at 2432 Conservatory Drive, is one of the last in a series of capital projects funded through a $10 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., awarded to Indy Parks and Recreation in 2001. The center will serve as a multi-disciplinary arts haven, providing arts education opportunities for youth and adults, exhibits and performances.