I hesitate to try to say anything about qawwali because there are so many who are far more knowledgeable about this distinctive South Asian form of music. But I really enjoy qawwali and over the years my appreciation and understanding of the wide variety of styles of qawwali has grown immensely.
My first introduction to qawwali was filmi qawwali a very low brow, often humorous, certainly not serious, form of the music that spiced up the Hindi films I watched as a young lad in India. It was an addictive and attractive style. The call and response, the male chorus, the handclaps and the driving drums were hard to resist.
Not until I heard Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan when I lived for some years in Pakistan did I begin to appreciate how magnificent qawwali really was. During those years I often would spy Aziz Mian (paan-stained teeth and lips; crisp shalwar qameez; wild unruly hair) one of the all time greats of qawwali roaming the streets of Rawalpindi going about his daily business. His style of singing was so very different from Nusrat sahib’s that it seemed to be a completely different music.
Several years ago I happened across a fellow blogger, Musab bin Noor, who wrote about qawwali with such passion, insight and beauty it was irresistible. I cannot and will not try to paraphrase his insights (where would I start, anyway?) and simply refer and recommend his blog to you.
I also think this excellent recent article from DAWN is worth reading. It traces the commercialisation of qawwali and places many of the contemporary styles in a historical context that is impacted by government policy, technology, suspicion of sufi traditions and decline of the shrine culture.
This collection of qawwali over four volumes are personal selections of mine that I have enjoyed over the past few years. There are ALL types of qawwali represented in this collection from commercial to authentic dargah-based and everything in between including a few selections that may surprise.
There are many omissions too, most notably, the aforementioned Aziz Mian. This is not intentional. Perhaps I will put together a separate volume of his fantastic stuff one day. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these selections.
Track Listing Vol. 1
1-01 Alaf Allah (Baba Sultan Bahoo) [Wadali Brothers]
1-02 Avo Sayo Rul Davo Vadhai [Bakhshi Salamat Qawwal]
1-03 Bhai Murad aur Tajo Bahen [Abdur Rab Chaus]
1-04 Thal Wich Kharee Sassi Hakan Mardi [Muhammad Ali Faridi]
1-05 Ya Muhammad Noor-e-Mujassam[The Sabri Brothers & Ensemble]
1-06 Dekha Tamasha Lakdi ka [Yusuf Azad Qawwal, Talib Husain Warsi Qawwal]
1-07 Hai Mera Tan Man Nabi Pe Qurabaan [Unknown]
Track Listing Vol. 2
2-01 Vah Vah Mouj Fakeeran Di [Tufail Niazi & Party]
2-02 Man Kunto Maula Ali [Ghulam Sabir and Ghulam Waris]
2-03 Shahar E Madeena Dikha De [Chand Nizami Brothers and Khurshid Alam]
2-04 Jhoom Barabar Jhoom Sharaabi [Aziz Nazan]
2-05 Sahib Teri Bandi [Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan]
2-06 Main Zuba Se Kaise [Ghulam Sabir and Ghulam Waris]
2-07 Jannat Ki Rel Hai [Yusuf Azad Qawwal]
Track Listing Vol. 3
3-01 Qurbani Qurbani [Anwar, Aziz Nazan, Babban, Kishore Kumar]
3-02 Malan Dil Mein Baasale [Yusuf Azad Qawwal]
3-03 Mohabbat Husain Ki [Shamshad Begum]
3-04 Khawaj Toore Daware [Maqbool Sabri Qawwal]
3-05 Na Karo Juda Khudara Mujhey Apney Aastan Se [Ameer Rafeeq Murkian Wale Qawwal]
3-06 Chomah Ho Dar Arzo Sama [Jafar Hussain Khan Badayuni Qawwal]
3-07 Khabaram Raseeda Imshab [Fareed Ayaz Al Hussaini Qawwal & Party]
Track Listing Vol. 4
4-01 Adam Se Layi Hai [Jafar Hussain Khan Badayuni Qawwal]
4-02 Mujhe Peer Mila Subhanallah [Ghulam Sabir and Ghulam Waris]
4-03Jab Se Lagi Hai Aankh Bhi Meri Lagi Nahi [Fateh Ali Mubarak Ali Qawwal]
4-04 Ganj – E – Shakar [Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan]
4-05 Na Qaboo Main Dil Hai[Agha Bashir Faridi Qawwal]
4-06 Har Lehza Hai Momin [Manzoor Niazi Qawwal Aur Hamnavaa]