Karaikudi R. Mani Iyer
On this page I tell about my interactions with the great mridangam vidwan Karaikudi R. Mani. If you scroll to the bottom you will find some videos with him.
I write this on September 11, 2023, Karaikudi Mani Iyer’s 78th birthday had he not left the planet on May 4th this year. I was lucky enough to become quite a good friend of his so I thought I should show some photos and videos of him as he might well have been the greatest percussionist on the globe for the fifty years that surrounded the last turn of the century.
The first time I met Mani Sir was when my friend Sylvie (here with her guru Flute Ramani) called me from Paris and urged me to come to meet him and hear him with his Sruti Laya group that included the magnificent Harishankar and T.V. Vasan on kanjira and ghatam respectively. It was a revelation!
In 2001 he visited Sweden for the first time with his Sruti Laya and after their own concerts and workshops during the Days of Percussion event they joined us in a project om mine, STRIKE, together with all the great drummers of Stockholm in a concert. In the middle you see Allam Durgaprasad, V. Suresh, Mani Sir, B.S. Purushottam, Srirangam Kannan and B.V. Balasai.
In 2006 Sruthi Laya did a lovely tour of Sweden now with Balasai, Durgaprasad, Suresh and violin Embar Kannan. This time Rajeshwari Sainath and her daughter Vaisnavye did one section with dance apart from the music concerts.
The last time we had the pleasure of having him in Sweden was in 2009 and he was again joined by Rajeshwari Sainath, Vaisnavye and Balasai plus mandolin U.P. Raju
In December 2014 I released an album of 3 cd from an old recording from 1968, For Tradition Turn to Nedunuri, that I did with my guru mridangam vidwan P.S. Devarajan playing with Nedunuri Krishnamurthy and Mani Sir was very helpful with arranging the release function in Chennai as well as speaking on the occasion. The Malladi Brothers also assisted with making the album with their guru.
At the end of 2015 I brought a large group of musicians from Sweden for a collaboration that Mani Sir helped me to organise in Chennai with violinist Sornalatha Akkarai and Flute Srutisagar and two of his great collaborators V. Suresh and N. Amrit. We played at the classic Sri Krishna Gana Sabha led by Y. Prabhu. Some photos:
and a video
The last time I met Mani Sir was during the 2019-20 season when I was in Chennai to listen to music and record some great music. I miss him so much.
Shanmukhapriya Ragam and Pallavi composed and sung by Guru Karaikudi R. Mani, followed by a small portion of a mind-blowing Thani Avarthanam by Mani Sir and Harishankar Sir. The chemistry between these two is unreal. Ravindra Kalakshetra, Bangalore – 1990
Tani Avarthana together with the great Harishankar in concert with Prince Rama Varma during the Swathi Sangeethotsavam at Kuthiramalika palace, Trivandrum, in 1998.
And here is his Sruti Laya with Karaikkudi Mani, Harishankar, T V Vasan and Srirangam Kannan and tala by his student Ramesh.