“Classically trained but a fusioneer by nature, sitarist Sheema Mukherjee has played with trance troupe Transglobal Underground and folk radicals the Imagined Village among others. This solo debut (vinyl/MP4 only) draws from her palette with panache. Slash Sitar is a showboating rock thrash (air sitar, anyone?); Sikkim Girls comes drenched in Bollywood strings; Morning Celeste is a dreamy neoclassical raga; and the driving Little Dragon sounds as though John Lee Hooker had mastered the sitar. More unexpected are sweetly sung covers of Radiohead and Françoise Hardy and playful evocations of 60s pop (Mrs Moo) and sodden samosas on an English beach (Bit God). A charming, altogether singular creation.” – Neil Spencer 23rd August 2014 The Observer, Music
Sheema Mukherjee, established sitar player and composer; a regular in Transglobal Underground playing sitar and electric bass; a key member in The Imagined Village project; a formidable collaborator with internationally renowned artists from many genres.
Sheema Mukherjee absorbed North Indian classical music and the western tradition side-by-side, studying sitar and Indian classical music under the tutelage of her uncle, the Late Pandit Nikhil Banerjee and then with the Late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Brought up between Britain and India, she has a rich background to draw on in her own compositions and collaborations. Sheema works across many styles and genres from eastern and western classical music to jazz, pop and dance music.
She has collaborated with internationally renowned artists such as Sir John Tavenor, Martin Carthy, Bobby Mcferrin, Boris Grebenshikov, Natacha Atlas, Noel Gallagher & Cornershop, Mercan Dede, the Bulgarian Folk singer Yanka Rupkina. Another significant collaboration is with UK saxophonist Courtney Pine and Sheema has been featured on his albums Back In The Day and Devotion and was a guest artist on the ‘On Track’ tour – a project for the UK Commonwealth Games.
Sheema has toured the world with a variety of ensembles and key performances include The World Music Festival (Chicago), Montreux Jazz Festival and the Olympia-Halle (Munich), supporting Jimmy Page and Robert Plant throughout their European tour (1998), the Olympics Arts Festival for Sydney 2000 and also makes regular appearances at WOMAD (UK) with her own ensembles.
A versatile and creative musician, Sheema Mukherjee is evolving both as a composer and as a collaborator. Recent work has included an Indian Classical performance for Elton John’s Black Tie & Tiara Ball, an improvisation with Australian recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey in Westminster Abbey for The Queen on Commonwealth Day, and a creative development role in composition and song writing in Beijing, Hong Kong and Gateshead as part of the PRS Foundation and Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong Creative Exchange Project. Larger scale work has included composition for full orchestra, for theatre, including Wuthering Heights (Tamasha), The Cornershop Project (Black Country Touring & Foursight), West Yorkshire Playhouse (Northern Exposure).
In addition to her composition and live work, Sheema is a rigorous and disciplined teacher and has conducted many workshops in improvisation and composition as well as classes focusing on her instruments (both eastern and western) in the UK and abroad.
Transglobal Underground are possibly one of the greatest and most prolific bands I have had the pleasure to work with. Describing themselves as somewhere between Shut Up And Dance and KLF, they are a band I have been providing Tour Management and logistics support to for a number of years.
I first saw the band play on the back of a flat bed trailer at Notting Hill Carnival back in 1991. I watched the whole set and became convinced that the band were possibly the greatest band I had ever come across. I still feel like that more than 30 years later. Every time the band play Templehead it reminds me of that sunny day back in 1991.
I’ve been out for the past month or so with Transglobal Underground and all sorts of conversations took place in amongst the travel and music. Sheema, who plays Sitar, Bass and Sings with the group, has asked me to help with her solo work.
Sheema is the first solo album, released in 2014 through ECC Records who are no longer trading. Sitar Monday is her second album, released in 2021 through Transglobal Underground’s Bandcamp subscriber scheme which is also no longer running. Both these albums nearly slipped into oblivion. Iron Man Records has adopted Sheema as an Artist and rescued these albums with the help and support of Transglobal Underground and Sheema herself.
‘Sitar Monday’ grew from Sheema’s plans for a second solo album after her first vinyl only release, appropriately titled ‘Sheema.’ This album combines some of those ideas given a Transglobal makeover, some more recent compositions, one track originally planned for ‘Walls Have Ears’ (Milos Yard) and a little tribute to Samuel Taylor Coleridges ‘Xanadu’ with Sheema and Raphaëlle Von Glitz on vocals. Plus the last performance on Tim’s grandads piano before it gets restrung after 80 years loyal service.
Without the help and support of Iron Man Records Patrons and supporters of Transglobal Underground these records may have been lost completely. With the help and support of Tim Whelan and Hamid Mantu and the rest of Transglobal Underground and you, I’ve managed to find these albums a home. Enjoy the music.
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