Clem Alford

About Clem Alford

As a member of Magic Carpet and Magic Carpet II, and on his solo recordings, British sitarist Alford has explored the fusion of Indian music with folk, jazz, and rock. Although he initially studied bagpipes, Alford began playing the sitar in the mid-'60s, inspired by Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar. He went to India in 1968 to study classical sitar with Pandit Sachindranath Saha, and in 1969 recorded an album with guitarist Jim Moyes and tabla player Keshav Sathe for Windmill. Unfortunately, this was issued under the name Sagram, although the actual name of the band was Sargam. Sargam was offered the chance to record for the Mushroom label in the early '70s, providing they add a singer. Guitarist, and singer/songwriter Alisha Sufit was recruited for this purpose, and the foursome, now billed as Magic Carpet, recorded a self-titled album that fused Indian and folk music on both vocal and instrumental selections. Released in an edition of only one thousand copies, it was reissued on CD in the 1990s. Alford also recorded as a solo artist. On his 1974 album Mirror Image, the 14-minute title track was a hybrid of Indian music and electric jazz-rock fusion. Alford recorded this cut with an electronic sitar, using a contact microphone and wah-wah pedal, backed by electric guitar, electric piano, bass, and drums. In contrast, side two of the record had two traditional ragas, played by Alford (on tanpura) and Magic Carpet member Keshav Sathe on tabla. The album was reissued on CD in the '90s, with the addition of some later material. In 1996, he reunited with Alisha Sufit to record Once Moor under the name Magic Carpet II, although neither of the other original Magic Carpet musicians were involved in the album. ~ Richie Unterberger