Remembering the Big Man: Rahat Ali Khan and Michael Brooks

hqdefault

An interesting album with some truly moving and exhilarating performances. As I mentioned in my most recent article for Scroll.in it was through a remix of one of Nusrat’s qawwalis (Dam Qalandar Mast) in the early 1990s that qawwali went mainstream. Or at least as mainstream as any non-European spiritual music is ever going to go!

Canadian guitarist Michael Brook, though uncredited on Mustt Mustt, played a huge role in creating the sound and ensuring the massive impact of that album on the earholes of millions of new fans. He later went on to produce (and get credited for) Night Songs another hugely popular qawwali-fusion album in 1996.

In this instance, a performance in honour of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the combination of qawwali and western music just doesn’t click like in the earlier works. The drums especially are irritating, adding little more than an annoying rumble in the background that distracts from Rahat’s voice and the performance of his ‘party’.

In her introduction Jameela Siddiqi makes special thanks to Michael for taking ‘time out of his very busy schedule’ to participate. And I, for one, can’t help but feel that while his body took the time his heart was somewhere else. Then again, this is a recording of a live event. Maybe being there was more impressive than listening to the music disconnected from its performance.

As for Rahat he is in very fine voice raising the roof throughout the evening. I never tire of marveling at how this guy can sing. It sends shivers down the back as he builds up the tension like water pressing hard against a cracked earthen dam. The water recedes slightly before coming flooding back and ultimately breaking free. Track number 4 is a perfect case in point.

For what it’s worth, this is a definitely a good album. Just find a way to ignore the drums and lackluster noodlings of Brook.

Here are the translated lyrics of the title track.

Kinna Sohna Tainu Rab Ne Banaya

How beautiful the lord has created you!

Kinna Sohna Tainu Rab Ne Banaya

O Dil Karray Vekhda Ravaan

How beautiful the lord has created you

And my heart desires to keep gazing at you

Kinna Sohna Tainu Rab Ne Banaya

How beautiful the lord has created you!

Dil Murrda Nahi Laakh Samjhaya

Dil Karray Vekhda Ravaan

My heart halts not even with thousands of reasons

And instead it desires to keep gazing at you

O Kinna Sohna Tainu Rab Ne Banaya

How beautiful the lord has created you!

Kinna Sohna Tainu Rab Ne Banaya

How beautiful the lord has created you!

Dil Vich Tera Pyar Vassake

Vekkhi Javaan Kol Bithakke

Your love is dwelling within my heart

And I want to gaze endlessly nearby you

O Tainu Dil Walay Sheeshay Vich Sajaaya

Dil Karray Vekhda Ravaan

You are bejewelled within the mirrors of my heart

And my heart desires to keep gazing at you

O Kinna Sohna Tainu Rab Ne Banaya

How beautiful the lord has created you!

Pyar Tera Ae Zindagi Meri

Karni Ae Mein Pooja Teri

Your love is my existence

And you alone I adore

Tainu Akhiyan De Vich Mein Vassaya

Dil Karray Vekhda Ravaan

I have let you sink within my eyes

And my heart desires to keep gazing at you

O Kinna Sohna Tainu Rab Ne Banaya

How beautiful the lord has created you!

Kinna Sohna_ Live Tribute to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Track Listing:

01 Introduction-Jameela Siddiqi

02 Crest (Shaman Paiyan Tere Bina)

03 Nothing Without You (Sanu Ik Pal Chain Na Aave)

04 My Heart My Life (Tu Mera Dil Tu Meri Jaan)

05 My Comfort Remains (Sun Yaara Gum Khara Dildara)

06 Err (Tarana – A Tribute)

07 Mustt Mustt (Dam Mast Qallandar)

08 Jiya Dhadak Dhadak Jaaye

09 Kinna Sohna Tenu Rab Na Banaya

10 Chaap Tilak Sab Cheeni

KS

 

The Man from Uncle: Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

images-1

There is really nothing to I can say about this recording that is more important than what Rahat himself says by way of introduction. “We are here to honour Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan by singing some of his beloved compositions, as well as some untold stories. Thank you so much for coming.”

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

This is one of two tribute albums by the great man’s nephew and protégé which I hope to post eventually. Listen to this straight through and loud! Get lost in the music and remember fondly one of humanity’s most powerful musical forces to have ever visited this planet.

Remembering Nusrat - Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Memorial Concert

Track Listing:

01 Introduction By Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

02 Man Kunto Maula

03 Allah Hu

04 Lagan Laagi Tum Se

05 Tumhein Dillagi Bhool Jaani Padegi

06 Sanson Ki Mala

07 Ni Main Jana Jogi De Naal

RAhaT

An Opportunity Missed: Novum Gaudium and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

539w

This is a bit of a strange one.  It is advertised as Gregorian chants + Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, which led me to think it was a blending of two spiritual modes of music: chant and qawwali.  I could see how that would work and immediately shelled out the cash for the CD.

 

Coro Novum Gaudium

Coro Novum Gaudium

Well, the title is accurate enough. It is the female choral group Novum Gaudium, an ensemble of Gregorian chanters from Italy, conducted by Padre Anselmo Susca, singing a number of typically austere and arresting chants by such mystical composers as Hildegard of Bingen.  Throughout this lovely concert there is no sign, whatsoever of Nusrat or his qawwali party, until the very final number in which they run through a fast paced rendition of Mast Mast.   That too is highly enjoyable and as I said, fits very nicely indeed, into the mellow proceedings of the rest of the album.  But it hardly lives up to the implied billing of NFAK double billing with NG. Rather it seems more of a marketing afterthought. 

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

 

So a bit disappointing.

But only for a while.

 

Because, as I say, the music, taken in its own right is worthy of repeated listens and the concept, at least, is a worthy one.  Too bad the opportunity to mix male and female, western and eastern musical approaches to spiritual music was missed. Aah well…

 

Just prepare thyself for what it is, rather than what you think it should be.

Nusrat Gregorianfront Nusrat Gregorian Back 

Track Listing:

01 Missus Est Angelus Gabriel

02 Latabundus

03 Angelus Est

04 Ecce Ancilla Domini

05 O Clarissima Mater

06 Factum Est Autem

07 Facta Est

08 Puer Natus Est Nobis

09 Dies Ista Collitur

10 In Diebus Illis Mulier

11 Ubi Charitas Est Vera

12 Dico Vobis, Gaudium Est Angelis Dei

13 Ubi Charitas Est Vera

14 Vespera Autem

15 Cum Vidisset Jesus Matrem

16 Quem Queritis

17 Victimae Paschali Laudes

18 Exultandi Et Laetandi

19 Popule Meus Quid Feci Tibi_

20 O Quam Mirabilis Est

21 Mustt Mustt

✪✪¢

 

 

The Nephew: Rahat Ali Khan

4583463511_50aae814e2_z

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was a large man.  A man with a body larger than a couple of linebackers stuck together and voice that seemed to be the reason for the heavens themselves. Single handedly he brought the music of Sufi Pakistan into mainstream western consciousness and left behind a reputation that only true geniuses are accorded.

 

Rahat Ali Khan

Rahat Ali Khan

Rahat Ali Khan is the nephew of the great qawwal who died in 1997. And for better or worse he has been given the heavy responsibility (burden?) of carrying on the tradition.  Groomed by Nusrat from a young age to be the second lead vocal in his ‘party’ Rahat’s voice can be heard on many of his uncle’s recordings, playing off, sparring, challenging and complementing the formidable giant of qawwali.

 

In the years since his uncle’s passing, Rahat has forged a role as a pop star, singing a mix of Sufiana tinged music and straight ahead Pak-pop.  Some of it is excellent; some not so great.  But there is no denying the allure of his voice which has that same ability of his uncle’s to easily scale high registers and dance with agility and incredible power.  Clearly, Nusrat recognised something special.

 

Several years ago, Rahat Ali Khan and a small band that included electric bass, piano and soprano sax along with the usual qawwali party accompanists, recorded a concert in memory of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.   In his short introduction to the show, Rahat thanks his audience for giving of their precious time to come to pay respects to the ‘one they loved’. He promises to sing some of the songs from his uncle’s repertoire as well as others which ‘until now have not had their stories told’!  How lovely is that?

 

A fantastic record of what must have been a truly magical night.

 Remembering Nusrat - Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Memorial Concert

Track Listing:

01 Introduction by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

02 Man Kunto Maula

03 Allah Hu

04 Lagan Laagi Tum Se

05 Tumhein Dillagi Bhool Jaani Padegi

06 Sanson Ki Mala

07 Ni Main Jana Jogi De Naal

Ÿ¢¢✪

Prophets and Saints: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

 

babanusratAn old favorite’s on the play list tonight.  Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s 1994 album for Real World, The Last Prophet.

“This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” These are also supposed to be the last verses revealed to Muhammad (PBUH) before his death in 632 CE.

The concept that Muhammad (PBUH) is the final of God’s great prophets, a concept known as Khatam an-Nabiyyin (The Seal of the Prophets), is one of the pillars of Islamic faith. And it is a celebration of this belief that Nusrat and party open the album with. A mighty paen to the two great centers of ultimate sacredness, Mecca and Medina. Maki Madni starts slowly but builds with repeated descriptions of the greatness of the Prophet, repeating Khatam-e-rasool (Seal of the Prophets) there is none like you (tumsa koi nahi) as the qawwali builds in ecstatic exuberance.

While there will no more Prophets on Earth, there are many Saints who deserve mentioning. One in particular is the 12th Punjabi saint, Hazrat Fariduddin Masud Ganjshakar revered as Baba Farid (Grandfather Farid) throughout Pakistan and northern India.  Ganj-e-Shakar is the 22 minute center piece of the album. Nusrat extols his love for the ancient holy man in a tender way, repeatedly calling him ‘mine’ and comparing him to gold, mountains and oceans. He also tells many of the stories of Bab Farid’s miracles ultimately concluding he is bemisaal, incomparable.

Fantastic qawwali that will have you keeping the record on repeat for days.

The Last Prophet

Track Listing:

  1. Maki Madni
  2. Sahib Teri Bandi
  3. Ganj-e-Shakar
  4. Sochan Dogian

♫♪♪