The Big Man: Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan

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Continuing with the Music Pakistan CD Box Set, today we share the playable part of Vol. 53.  If you’ve followed this blog and are aware of the Music Pakistan Box Set you’ll know that about 7 of the original CDs were very poorly reproduced.  To the point of being unlistenable. Some tracks were so corrupted by clicks and cracks and other distortion, they rendered the music completely unlistenable.  Other tracks simply don’t play.

And sadly, this is the case for this volume. Of the 10 tracks only 4 are not completely damaged. Luckily, they include a complete rendition of Raga Bhopali and a few other morsels.  Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan himself needs no introduction to lovers of Hindustani gayaki.  Claimed by both India and Pakistan as a native son (and both are true!) Bade Ghulam Ali Khansahib is truly the Big Man of classical Hindustani vocal singing of the first half of the 20th century.

I’ve included a complete set list below but remember, only the first four tracks are presentable.  I’ve also had to improvise a cover for the CD as the original is missing as well.

With those (hopefully acceptable caveats) I present to you volume 53 of Music Pakistan Box Set.

KHUB!

Music Pakistan Nr.53 Classical Vocal

Track Listing:

53-01 Raag Bhopali – Tit Bitat Ghan

53-02 Raag Peelo – Saiyaan Bolo

53-03 Raag Kamode – Chadde Mora Aanchal

53-04 Raag Peelo Thumri – Kankar Maar Jagaiye

53-05 Raag Kajri – Nainan Morey Taras Gayay

53-06 Raag Kedara – Naveli Naar

53-07 Raag Gujri Todi – Bhor Bhai Tori

53-08 Raag Paraj – Latkhat Chalat

53-09 Raag Malkauns – Mandir Dekh

53-10 Raag Jaijaivanti – Un Ki

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Classical Super Group: Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Ustad Zakir Hussain

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This is about as ‘super’ a ‘super group’ you can conjure. Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Ustad Zakir Hussain, on the same stage at the same night, creating magic that is simply unbelievable.

Opening with the popular melodious raga Bihag, especially popular in north India and even more especially by Bengali artists, Pandit Jasraj enraptures the concert hall from the opening note. His voice flows effortlessly, like the Saraswati River, only above ground and very real. There is no rush here. The simple unfolding of the mystery with Ustad Zakir Hussain sahib turning his drums into a sonic annotation. Each of Panditji’s syllable’s is met with a beat (so understated, so intuitive, so suggestive) that seems preordained.

After the opening raga and a bhajan interlude, this dynamic duo is joined by the bansuri maestro from Allahabad, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia. Again, as you’d expect from such All-Star artistes, his contribution is nothing short of elegant. The runs on the bamboo flute are mellow and heavenly, leading and darting between the singer’s words, often times leaving Jasraj himself breathless.

This is volume 1 or a double CD set which we send your way with all good blessings and wishes for the end of 2014!

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Track Listing:

  1. Raga Bihag (pt 1)
  2. Raga Bihag (pt 2)
  3. Bhajan Kafi
  4. Raga Bhairav

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Traditional Maestro: Girija Devi

Girija Devi

Girija Devi

Born in 1929, Girija Devi is a living legend, and one of the few remaining maestros of the Purab ang gayaki tradition of the Benaras gharana. Although renown and revered as the Queen of Thumri, she is equally at home with the traditional 18th century style of classical khyal singing as well as the poetic semi-classical styles like thumri, dadra, tappa, kajri and chaiti.

It was her father Ramdev Rai who inculcated a deep love of classical music in his daughter. At the tender age of 5 Girija Devi began taking music lessons from teachers like sarangi player Pt. Sarju Prasad and Pt. Srichand Misra. Girija Devi’s very first music recital took place in 1949 at the Allahabad branch of All India Radio. Her brilliant renderings of light classical music went on to capture audiences’ hearts worldwide. Girija Devi is also an accomplished composer, and has composed several bandishes and thumri.

Girija Devi’s khyal repertoire is centered around popular ragas and she expounds these ragas with detailed attention to the subtleties of the raga grammar. Her light classical renditions follow the same approach. Despite having the license to explore and improvise her thumris and tappas are firmly grounded on the traditional style of raga development. The melodic progression in her light classical pieces is akin to the alap in a khyal, with clearly defined sthayi and antara sections, within which she weaves a brilliant interplay of poetic, melodic . and rhythmic elements. In her renditions of tappas—a fast paced genre of semi classical music—despite the total architectural freedom available in the genre, she adopts a steady ascent and progression. Graceful melodic contours enhanced by elongated notes (meend) are used to communicate the musical essense of the piece.

Girija Devi was decorated with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1978, the Padma Shri in 1973 and the Padma Bhushan in 1989. She has served a long stint as a guru at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata and continues to guide students even today. (liner notes)

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Track Listing:

01 Khyal in Raga Bilaskhani [Teental]

02 Hori in Raga Mishra Kafi [Deepchandi taal]

03 Chaiti in Raga Kalingada Mishra [Addha Taal]

04 Bandish Thumri in Raga Bhairavi [Teental]

05 Tappa in Raga Bhairavi [Addha Taal]

G…D…

Jewel of India: Ustad Bismillah Khan

 

Ustad Bismillah Khan

Ustad Bismillah Khan

Ustad Bismillah Khan though no longer among us , continues to hold a position of rare stature and respect among music lovers in South Asia and across the world. The honors bestowed upon him are also rare. One of only three musicians to be awarded the highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna, by the government of India (the other two: Ravi Shankar and M.S. Subbalakhsmi). When he and the country were very young, he was invited to play his shehnai, at the Red Fort to mark the occasion of Independence from Britain. He maintained this honour for decades, delighting fans each August 15 with a live concert, broadcast throughout the country.

Born into a family of court musicians in Bihar Bismillah Khan nearly single handedly transformed the Indian oboe, shehnai, from a folk and ceremonial instrument into a full fledged member of the Hindustani classical orchestra. During his career he travelled far and wide promoting not just the shehnai, or Indian classical music, but inter-communal harmony and the transcendency of music generally.   In 1986 I had the pleasure to hear him in a concert in Lahore’s Alhamra Art Center, a concert I will never forge

The wonderful album we share today is from a performance in the UK. It is simply intoxicating in its beauty and completeness and balance between shehnai and accompanists.

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Track Listing:

01 Raga Shuddh Kalyan [Alap]

02 Raga Shuddh Kalyan  [Gat in Vilambit Ektaal]

03 Raga Shuddh Kalyan  [Drut Teental]

04 Raga Shankara [Alap]

05 Raga Shankara  [Gat in Ektal]

U B K

Voice in Paradise: Kishori Amonkar

Kishori Amonkar

Kishori Amonkar

Dear readers and friends,

I find myself in Suva the capital of the Fiji Islands in the South Pacific. Business has been the reason but the weather has been absolutely stunning. Clear blue skies, sparkling and bobbing bougainvillea of all hues, glimmering seas lapping against green mountains and temperatures that never dare reach above 24C.

While I am heading home to my family tomorrow morning early, I find I do not want to leave, for this is truly a little bit of Paradise.   Alas…

The only singer who can match the beauty of this place at this moment in time is the wondrous Kishori Amonkar.  I’ve raved about her voice (as have many many others) in other places and so will not repeat those things.  And indeed, a voice and vision such as this is not enhanced by flowery words. Rather one needs but silence and letting go to feel the full force of her genius.

Bula!

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Track Listing:

01 Raga Bhoop – Khayal Vilambit Teentaal – Prathama Sur Saadhe

02 Raga Bhoop – Khayal Drut Teentaal – Jabse Tumeesana Laagalee

03 Raga Binna ShadJa – Khayal Vilambit Teentaal – Odd Jaa Re Kaagaa & Drut Teentaal – Anganaa More Aajaa

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