Amjad Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Bangash, Ayaan Ali Bangash and Elmira Darvarova – Peace Worshipers (Affetto Records AF1706, 2017)
Two of the world’s great musical traditions, Indian classical and western classical music come together in Peace Worshipers. The album features a family trio of sarod players led by one of the great masters of our time, Amjad Ali Khan and his equally talented sons, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash. The three artists representing the Indian classical music tradition collaborate with superb American violinist Elmira Darvarova.
Interestingly, the three sarod players appear on separate tracks. That is, each track features only one sarod player so there are no sarod trio performances.
Most of the material is composed by Amjad Ali Khan, based on Indian ragas. Elmira Darvarova contributes one solo violin piece based on a Bulgarian folk song.
The quartet is joined by tabla maestro Anubrata Chatterjee.
The CD booklet contains reflections on the recording along with biographies of the musicians, photos and credits.
Peace Worshipers features masterfully-crafted virtuoso performances that showcase the beauty of Indian and western classical traditions as well as folk traditions.
Jai Uttal is a pioneer in the United States’ world music community. His eclectic east meets-west sound has put his music at the forefront of the world fusion movement. Jai Uttal’s musical roots embrace a rich variety of cultures and traditions that span the globe and the centuries. From the traditional music of the Appalachian Mountains to the passionate strains of Bengali street singers from the haunting rhythms and melodies of ancient India to contemporary electric rock sounds Jai’s music distills the essence of diverse musical forms.
As a child in New York City, Jai’s home was filled with music. He began studying classical piano at the age of seven and later learned to play old time banjo harmonica and guitar. His musical interests encompassed a wide variety of styles and over the years he experimented with many forms of musical expression.
Eventually this led him to the work of India’s National Living Treasure Ali Akbar Khan. At the age of 19 Jai moved to California to become a student of Khansahib for traditional voice training and to learn the sarod a 25-stringed Indian instrument. Later he traveled to India where he was deeply inspired by the Bauls the wandering street musicians of Bengal. Jai settled among them communicating only through music which ultimately helped establish his unique style.
During these early visits to India Jai also met his Guru Neem Karoli Baba and spent time with many great beings of both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. He became deeply absorbed in the practice of kirtan the ancient yoga of chanting or singing to God. This form of prayer became the core of his musical and spiritual life.
When Jai returned to the United States his music had been transformed. He continued to study Indian music diligently while also performing in reggae, R&B, punk and blues bands. He also began leading kirtan groups all over the country. The combination of Jai’s exceptional vocals and exotic instrumentation produced a new and captivating sound.
In 1991 Triloka Records released his debut album Footprints featuring world music innovator Don Cherry and Indian vocalist Lakshmi Shankar. The album received critical acclaim and led Jai and his band the Pagan Love Orchestra to international prominence. By the time his second album Monkey was released in 1993 Jai and the Pagan Love Orchestra had an enormous fan base with a top ten record on the world music charts.
In 1994 Beggars and Saints was released a tribute to the Bauls of Bengal and again the album received international recognition solidifying Jai Uttal’s position as a world music visionary. During this time Jai also produced two CD’s for his teacher Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Combining the brilliance of Khansahib’s playing and composing with Western orchestration Journey and Garden of Dreams became extremely popular in the Indian community.
Jai’s fourth release Shiva Station was another leap forward. Capturing the raw urgency of his live performances with the Pagan Love Orchestra and adding the mixing wizardry of veteran producer Bill Laswell Shiva Station presented traditional chants in a totally new way. The concerts at that time united the temple and the nightclub the sacred and the worldly; emphasizing the underlying theme that spirituality and devotion can pervade all aspects of life.
Meanwhile, with the rise of interest in Yoga, Jai was receiving more and more requests to lead kirtan workshops and concerts all over the world. In the last few years chanting has brought him to Israel Fiji Brazil Germany Switzerland and India. Jai released a live kirtan CD titled Nectar to begin to chronicle these powerful events.
Finally in February of 2002 Jai Uttal and the Pagan Love Orchestra released Mondo Rama on Narada Records. The product of several years of deep musical and self-exploration Mondo Rama combined Brazilian influences, Hebrew prayers, Appalachian Blues, Beatles psychedelia and of course Indian music and chants, Mondo Rama explodes from the speakers in celebration and rebirth. “I went through many difficult heart-wrenching transformations in the last year” says Jai, “and I decided to put it all into this CD. The anguish the pain the joy and the redemption. Mondo Rama means the World is Rama or Everything is God. This CD is an attempt to express that feeling and the sense of surrender and gratitude that I try to remember everyday“. Mondo Rama went on to be nominated for a Grammy as Best New Age Album of 2002.
Jai adds, “world music is music from everywhere. Music that creates bridges. Music that unites hearts and cultures. Music that brings peace.”
In recent years Uttal has drifted away from world music, focusing on music for the new age market.
Sarod master Alam Khan is set to perform on Friday, April 7, 2017, 8:00 p.m. in Manhattan, New York. Alam Khan will celebrate his father, the acclaimed sarod player and teacher Ali Akbar Khan, on what would have been his 95th Birthday. Om Gam Ensemble will be the opening act.
Alam Khan will be joined by Nitin Mitta on tabla. Alam has toured internationally and established himself as Ali Akbar Khan’s genuine heir and the face of a new cohort of sarod players.
“Alam Khan is the torch bearer of a very distinguished and important Indian music tradition,” says WMI Artistic Director Par Neiburger. “His father and teacher Ali Akbar Khan was widely regarded as one of the most important and influential Indian musicians of all time. His work popularized the music of India in the West, and the Ali Akbar College—which Alam is now the head teacher of—has had countless students spreading this important tradition around the world.”
Masters of Indian Music
Friday, April 7, 2017, 8:00 p.m.
(Le) Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker Street, Manhattan
Tickets: $25-$35 www.worldmusicinstitute.org
Amjad Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan, Elmira Darvarova – Amalgam (Affetto Records, 2016)
Amalgam is a beautiful collaboration between the world of Indian classical and folk, western classical music and Bulgarian folk music. It’s the continuation of the much-admired “Soul Strings album in which siblings Amaan Ali Bangash (Amaan Ali Khan) and Ayaan Ali Bangash (Ayaan Ali Khan) collaborated with violinist Elmira Darvarova.
This time, on amalgam, Aman and Ayaan have also brought in their father, renowned sarod maestro and composer Amjad Ali Khan. Most of the album features raga compositions by Amjad Ali Khan. Elmira Darvarova adds one of her own compositions inspired by Bulgarian folk songs to the mix.
The two great classical music traditions meet and interact wonderfully. Throughout the album there are moments of calm along with segments of dazzling virtuosity. The quartet is joined on some pieces by tabla master Anubrata Chatterjee.
The lineup on the album includes: Amjad Ali Khan on sarod, Amaan Ali Bangash on sarod, Ayaan Ali Bangash on sarod, Elmira Darvarova on violin and Anubrata Chatterjee on tabla.
Amalgam presents masterful performances by open minded, superb instrumentalists, exquisitely bridging South Asian and western traditions.
Amjad Ali Khan, Rahim AlHaj, Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan – Infinite Hope (Ur Music, 2016)
Swimming in a plumy lushness, Infinite Hope, out on the Ur Music label, revisits the collaborative efforts of Indian sarod master and composer Amjad Ali Khan with Iraqi oud virtuoso and composer Rahim AlHaj. Following up on their Grammy-nominated 2010 recording Ancient Sounds, Mr. Khan and Mr. AlHaj are joined by Mr. Khan’s sons, also sarod players and composers in their own right, Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan. Sharing composition duties, this quartet dazzles listeners on this potently expressive musical collaboration.
Conjuring up a finely worked musical space crafted out of Middle Eastern and Indian musical traditions, Infinite Hope is masterful and elegantly sumptuous. Filling out Infinite Hope’s sound are tabla player Prashant Trivedi, percussionist Rakesh Bhardwaj, Chanda and djembe player Bubbi Negi, rhythm arranger and percussionist Parveen Sethi and rhythmic recitation singers Praveen Sethi and Rakesh Bhardwaj.
Opening with building percussion and rhythms and adding the lavish lines of sarod and oud, opening track “Virgin Earth” is a treat to the senses where the boundaries between Middle Eastern and Indian music wend together seamlessly as rhythmic recitation rounds out the track. Equally delicious is “Innocent River” composed by Ayaan Ali Khan and Rahim AlHaj as sarod and oud lines intertwine and break away.
The tracks of Infinite Hope offer up stringed mental maze where stringed oud and sarod of both musical traditions fashion a deeply hypnotic space. Equally delicious is the soothing track and one of the shortest at a mere four minutes and twenty-eight seconds, called “The Loving Mother.”
Infinite Hope takes off on a percussively rich journey on “Mystic Eternity” before gently coaxing listeners onto the meandering path of “Singing Soul.” Elegant lines and musical vocals that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck make up “Forgiving Planet” composed by Mr. AlHaj before Infinite Hope closes with the deeply luxuriant “Laughing Child.”
Infinite Hope is hypnotically captivating. It sets up a musical space by way of lengthy, lush tracks where time has no hope of interfering, because these masterful composers and musicians will take you where they want you to go in their own sweet time.
At a young age Abhisek Lahiri rose to prominence as a sarod player in India. Abhisek has won the hearts of discerning audiences worldwide with his maturity, depth & perfection with enchanting tonal quality.
Abhisek was initiated in sarod and trained under the tutelage of his eminent father as well as Guru Pt. Alok Lahiri.
Abhisek is a proud recipient of the coveted National Scholarship for outstanding performance in Sarod, from the Ministry of Human Resource & Development and Tourism and Culture, Govt.of. India in 1996-97 and 2003.
Abhisek took part in the World Kinder Festival in Holland and enthralled the audiences as a Wonder Child Sarod Player in 1997. The Dutch Television network telecasts his recitals countrywide, repeatedly even now.
Abhisek won the coveted Anun Lund Rej Award worth Rs. 50,000- from the Norwegian Consulate in 1998 and has been honored by the Rotary International Club with Certificate Of Appreciation for his excellence in sarod in 2000. Abhisek has been honored with the prestigious Telegraph School Award as an outstanding talent.
Abhisek won the President Award in Sarod through All India Radio Music competition in the year 2000 and is at present a Graded regular artist of All India Radio and Doordarshan Kendra (Television).
Aashish Khan Debsharma was born on December 5, 1939 in Maihar, India. He gave his first public performance at the age of 13, with his grandfather, the legendary Acharya Allauddin Khan on the All India Radio National Program”, New Delhi. That same year, he performed with his father Swara Samrat Ali Akbar Khan and grandfather at the “Tansen Music Conference”, Calcutta. Since then, he has performed throughout India and the world not only with his father, but as a soloist in his own right.
Besides his virtuosity as a traditional sarodist, Aashish pioneered in the establishment of the “world music” genre. He was a founder of the Indo-American musical group “Shanti” in 1969/70 and the fusion group The Third Eye for which he was the first to write a sarod concerto in the “raga” form.
Aashish has collaborated with such diverse Western musicians as John Barham, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Charles Lloyd, John Handy, Alice Coltrane, Emil Richards, Dallas Smith, John Pope, Jorge Strunz, Ardeshir Farah, and the Philadelphia String Quartet.