Folk Music Sampler (serial number unknown)

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I love putting together these folk music collections.  I’ve lost count of how many I’ve done over the life of this and the previous blog but you can pretty much rest assured this won’t be the last one.

Upmahadesh is the Hindi word for ‘subcontinent’. Most of these songs come again from the northern half of the Indian upmahadesh though some of the singers such as Pt. Bhimsen Joshi originally hail from parts further afield.  Like the lovely photo above (not mine) Punjab features highly. As always!

And of course, not everything here is purely folk music.  Bhimsen Joshi’s and Manish Vyas’s contributions are classical. And Begum Akhtar could just as easily be included in the classical fold, so profoundly did she command the art of the ghazal. But all three fit quite nicely within the mood of this sampler. Most tracks are commercially (or were) available if you look hard enough but one track in particular is rare indeed.  It is Track #7 and I’d like to thank my friend Hanif Haji for sharing this with me.  It is a live recording made in Ginjee, Uganda presumably in the 1960s before Big Daddy Idi Amin expelled South Asians from the country.  I’ve taken the liberty of giving a title to the track based upon the lyrics but admit this is not the true name of the song.

A final note. Track number 4 by Allan Faqir is  the mysteriously named, Side A. That refers to the side of the cassette tape it was originally recorded on. As this spine-tingling track is in Seraiki/Sindhi I can’t make up a title!  Just listen to it and give it whatever glorious name comes to you!

I hope you get as much pleasure from these songs as I do.

 

UpmahadeshTrack Listing:

01 Changi Naeeyun Kiti [Reshma]

02 Tumko Dekha To [Jagjit Singh]

03 Khush Hoon Ki Mera Husn-E-Talab Kaam To Aaya [Begum Akhtar]

04 Side A [Allan Faqir]

05 Aesi Chal Main [Nisar Bazmi]

06 Karuna [Manish Vyas]

07 Bombay da naujawan [Ramta w Surinder and Prakash Kaur]

08 Mane na bhaye dasa bisa [Pt. Sanjeev Abhyanka]

09 Kal Chaudvi ki Raat Thi [Jagjit Singh]

10 Hik Hay Hik Hay (Baba Ghulam Farid) [Hamid Ali Bela]

11 Qissa Hirni [Alam Lohar]

12 Raga Gaur Sarang [Pt.Bhimsen Joshi]

13 Uth Bayth Re [Nargis Balolia]

14 Chhalla [Kashi Nath]

15 Traditional Pashtoun Song [Sultan MohammadChanne and Shah Wali]

16 Jajo Jajo Re [Dayaram Sarolia]

17 Goriya Mein Jana Pardes [Resham and Parvez Mehdi]

18 Bai Ja Tracter Te [Arif Lohar]

 

UpMaHaDeSh

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!

Jasraj Chaurasia Hussain Jasraj Chaurasia Hussain_0001

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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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Pink Kalashnikov: Musical Delights from the Hindu Kush

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I met a burly mountain of a man at the beginning of this year in a disaster zone. He was from Afghanistan, trained in the Soviet Union, now doing humanitarian work. He brought his can-do approach to building houses that had been swept away by typhoons. He worked well with people; when he found out I had been to his country he immediately gave me his friendship.

Part of the deal was a USB stick full of jumbled mp3s, most with only the briefest bits of information attached. Many were only numbered, ‘16’ or Track 7, with no artist noted. Others revealed the type of music ‘rubabi’ or ‘ghazal’ but still few artist names.

Throughout the year I have dipped regularly into this rich pool of uncertainty only to be amazed. The variety of music from Afghanistan revealed in those few Gigabytes is vast: reworked Bollywood hits, ghazals, folk noodlings, covers of Elvis and some stunning classical gayaki.

It is a few of these treasures that I share tonight. After 14 months in Kuala Lumpur, and after missing out on Christmas and New Year at home last year, I am heading back to the land down under for the holidays. I will not be back on line on Harmonium for some weeks (probably) which is not a bad thing. It gives you time to thoroughly make friends with these wonderful musicians, singers, players and artists, from beyond and amidst the high mountains called the Hindu Kush.

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Track Listing:

01 Raga

02 Rabab 064

03 Jazzy Bollywood song

04 Gul-e-badaam

05 80

06 Mast Jawani

07 Namidanam

08 Elahi man namay danam

09 Da Zemonz Zeba

10 Ai deil

11 Track 1

12 Baz im shab hawasi roi

13 Sheerena Yaara (Rabab)

14 30

15 Track 6

16 Hosain jaan

PK

Guru from Gadag: Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

Bhimsen Joshi

Bhimsen Joshi

Greetings!

I apologize for the very long break in postings here at Harmonium but all the usual excuses do apply. I’ve been extremely pressed for time with many professional visitors not to mention friends dropping by in Kuala Lumpur. Thus most of my evenings are taken connecting with old memories or plotting new professional paths.

On top of that I’ve been travelling again with lots of time zones, inconsistent internet connections and jet lag keeping me away from posting any music. I apologize but I think tonight’s selection will go some way towards making amends.

The wonderful late great Pandit Bhimsen Joshi renders the raga Marubihag, which I am led to understand is a fairly recent creation but based on the much older and difficult raga bihaag. I have been listening to this eloquent piece of artistry over the past few days and find it soothes and relaxes me in a very immediate and fundamental way.

Panditji also gives us two other shorter numbers, one a thumri and the other an (almost) upbeat bhajan. All three are extremely melodious pieces and his silken voice presents each one as if it were a freshly cut gem.

Enjoy!

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Track Listing:

01 Raag Marubihag – Vilambit Khayal In Ektaal – Rasiya Ao Na_Drut Khayal In Teental – Tadapat Raina Dina (Medley) (Live)

02 Thumri – Soch Samajho Nadan (Live)

03 Bhajan – Jo Bhaje Hari Ko Sada (Live)

BHiMsenJ

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…