Critiques

"Stephen James is one of those exquisite musicians who never fails to enchant, whether on sarod, violin, or guitar. He is of a pure lineage which knows how to rearrange the very molecules of the listener. A true tantric, he can heal with sound. If you open your ears your heart is sure to follow." - Ira Cohen, Electronic multi-media shaman, N.Y.C., 1998.

"... one of the most versatile western sarod players in the world, Stephen James combines a passionate love and dedication to his art and instrument with the blessings of traditional training." - R.N. Varma, The Hindustan Times

"... The best western sarod player. He has excellent quality of tone, and I admire his creativity and innovative ideas. He is a worthy disciple of my Gurubhai Pandit Vasant Rai." - Ustad Aashish Khan

"... Stephen James' achievement in Indian music is commendable. His style had a tranquil, unhurried pace and several passages were quite wittily constructed. Pandit Ravi Shankar's mark on his style was unmistakable." - Raghava R. Menon, Times of India.

" 'I have several batches of well-known students to whom I have passed on my Kala.' He names Gopal Krishna, Vijay Ragav Rao, Uma Shankar, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Laxmi Shankar, and Stephen James among a few of his disciples who are spread across the globe." - Pandit Ravi Shankar, from The Telegraph, February 8, 1998.


Impressive Sarod Recital                          Prakash Whadera, Hindustan Times May 22, 1998

... "In this program, Stephen initiated his recital with the raga Bhimpalasi to the accompaniment of Faiyaz Khan on tabla. More than anything else, one was impressed by his intimate understanding of the laya and tala, and his systematic and accurate dilineation of the raga. An old established raga, Bhimpalasi has clearly marked incontrovertible norms of technical accuracy. Stephen James appeared to observe them as naturally as a well-trained Indian musician of the raga would do.
First of all, Bhimpalasi's peculiar Komal Nishad approached from a peering down Shadja was a conoisseur's reward. Next it was gratifying to see him highlighting the vital Madhyama through Sa Ma Ma and a recurring Pa Pa Ga Ma. None the less impressive was his correct feel of the Rishabha in the descending phrases. His sense of the rhythm and Tala seemed well-nigh unerring. He rendered some fascinating sequences in the jumbled laya and moved about happily and at will even in the 7-matra Rupak tala with a string of correct tehais ending right on the target. Fast staccato passages came off very well. He seemed to be fond of long meends like Ali Akbar Khan." - "He never errs in the correct tonality of his Swaras."