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Sunday, March 22, 2009

A treat for Karachiites & visitors

They have many fans in Pakistan and overseas. They take qavvaali festivals by storm everywhere they go - and, boy, do they go everywhere! (See the embedded video at the end of this post.) Yet, it's surprising how many people in their own country have not yet been exposed to this amazing troupé. The Qavvaali Ka Safar concert on 28th March provides yet another opportunity for the uninitiated to change this state.

All of us qavvaali lovers in Pakistan have, in our collections, loads of Sabri Brothers and tons of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan ... but of the gharana that boasts of being the direct descendants of Saamat bin Ibrahim, the ace shaagird of Amir Khusrau and the head of the Qavvaal Bachchaas that Khusrau trained in this genre, we have precious little. 

One possible reason, I am sure, is the lack of audio and video recordings released by this group locally, something that I intend to help rectify over the course of the year (specially through the release of rare private recordings of their father, the incomparable Munshi Raziuddin). I also hope to convince the families of Munshi Ji's illustrious cousins, Manzoor Niazi sahab and Bahauddin sahab to let me include some of their recordings for the planned archives and special releases. Both these cousins' parties, too, being part of the same heritage, shared a fair amount of the repertoire but delivered the individual items with their own distinct flavours and each had a title or two that became associated with them forever: Manzoor Niazi's Naseema Jaanibé Bat'haa and Bahauddin's Kaesa Naach Nachaaya come immediately to mind. Both of these are available on the Citibank-sponsored set that is now a collector's item due, in part, to the wonderful notes that accompanied it. The audios were pirated (naturally!) and are available easily in most seedy CD stores. 

While Fareed Ayaz, his brothers - the amazing Abu Mohammad, among them - and the generation coming up (keep your ears open for Moiz and Hamza!), continue to preserve the tradition of rendering qavvaali in its purest classical form - they are at their best in samaa environments - those who have heard them in concerts know that their range extends way beyond that. Because their musical heritage includes, and is greatly influenced by, the famed ustaad Taan Ras Khan sahab, court musician to Bahadur Shah Zafar, they tackle shudhh classical raags - be it dhrupad ang or the more common khayaal form - with as much ease as they do pieces from today's popular repertoire.
Once in a while they have been known to include qavvaalis popularized by some of their well-known peers, although this happens only when the audience requests it - which is, thankfully, rare. C'mon, concert attendees … you've come to hear what these guys do best, so listen to their specialities. (In any case, how can one listen to a Sabri cover, however well sung, without Ghulam Farid's booming "Alllaaaaaah", or watch it without the silent qavvaali bit that only he could get away with by accompanying it with a twinkle in his eyes and a mischievous smile?)
They delight their fans with the works of Rumi, Hafiz, Khusrau, Bulley Shah, Kabir, and the later poets - such as Jigar Muradabadi (whose Saraapa never fails to entrance the listeners, even non-believers, with the sheer beauty of its words). They glide from Arabi to Farsi, Hindi, Poorbi, Punjabi, Seraiki, and Urdu smoothly. They sing modern foot-tapping qavvaalis and the traditional haal-inducing ones, but also inject the khaanqaahi slow, langurous melodies (such as Har Shab Manam Fataadah) into the performance, some - like Teree Yaad Hae Mann Kaa Chaen, Piyaa - transporting lovers into another time and place. But it is their sazeenaa, bahlaava, payvand-kaari, and the weaving of sargams and taans seamlessly into their performances that I enjoy most of all.

If you have not heard the full range of this troupé's capabilities, come and be converted. Bring others along, too, not just for a very enjoyable evening but one which will enrich your knowledge as Fareed Ayaz, Abu Mohammad, and others - (expect the unexpected!) - trace the development and growth of this all-encompassing genre. If you are already a fan, we'll see you there, anyway, but do bring friends to introduce them to this bunch of wonder-weavers and the genre ... and to financially support T2F in its shift to the new, expanded premises. That's very important, too.

(Thank you, Fareed & Abu, and everyone else in the party, for donating the proceeds and supporting a space that has helped enliven many of our evenings).

Here's a real first!

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Blogger Fawad Zakariya said...

Zak, thanks for introducing me to Farid Ayaz and party through this bhajan. This was a delightful performance. I am now hunting on youtube for other samples of their singing. I had heard the beautiful qawwali of the great Munshi Raziuddin but despite having heard about several US performances of Farid Ayaz I have not had an opportunity to hear them until now. On the next trip to Pakistan I will have to hunt for their Citibank CD from my trusted music sources in Lahore.

Being an eternal quibbler I do want to correct one small thing that Farid Ayaz Sahib mentions on the video: "Woh jo hum meiN tum meiN qarar tha" is Hakim Momin Khan Momin's ghazal not Ghalib's.

22 March, 2009 21:21

Blogger Ali Kazim Gardezi said...

ZAK I fell in love w "Fareed Ayaz n brothers" the moment I listened to them. Thanku for introducing these to me. Ah! I wish I could attend it. But I believe I have to rely on the mp3 I have, for now :)

23 March, 2009 00:34

Blogger Zakintosh said...

@fawad zakariya: that was certainly a slip of the tongue by farid who is extremely well versed in these matters. and to be caught for posterity? he must be dying a thousand deaths.

the pirated cd set is easily available everywhere but someone like you needs to have the original … with the booklet. if you know people at citibank (which claims the cds are out of stock), use them to get it. if not, i'll try and get you one.

igi also released a 4 cd set of their recordings done very informally at my house (you can take the easiest route and use mojo to download them from my itunes library). i'll add them over the next few days.

there are several non-qavvaali pieces by this gharana that will be of even more interest to you in a series i recorded called 'bandishayn' which will be among the cds i have planned for release under a new label (ragni records) that'll be offering limited editions by subscription.

@ali kazim gardezi: next time you are here lemme know and you can add some files to your mp3 collection ;-)

23 March, 2009 01:50

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all the talk of Hindu intolerance I hear from my Pakistani friends, can they even perceive in their country that a group of Hindu Bhakti singers would be invited into any Masgid or Imambara to recite or sing the naats that they often perform in public?


23 March, 2009 02:55

Blogger Fawad Zakariya said...

Zak, thanks for your kindness and the generous offer to share your treasures. I think I will be able to hunt down the Citibank original but really look forward to the releases by Ragni records. Please do let me know when they become available. Thanks.

23 March, 2009 22:18

Blogger Arati said...

Thank you a longer and very interesting introduction to the singers whom I heard about three weeks back in Bangalore, India, in a Kabir festival. They brought the halls down with their music, songs...the audience rose spontaneously and whirled and danced in aisles, in front, on stage, anywhere - all were drunk on their music.

24 March, 2009 23:00

Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

Some devotional qawaallis by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (I say that because it's the high decibel, 'commercial' kind of music that he made that appears more popular around here.) can cocoon me in a bubble of peace, especially when I listen through a pair of ear-phones, as also happens quite often when I listen to Shabad Kirtan.

I'd say this bhajan-qawwaali comes pretty close to having that kind of an effect.


26 March, 2009 02:26

Anonymous Ziad Asim said...

Zak do let me know when CDs under Ragni Records are released...

We at b.i.t.s. had the opportunity of getting introduced and listened to Munshi Sahib and his troupe for which all credit goes to you and sabeen.

27 March, 2009 08:20

Blogger Musab said...

I've been fortunate enough to find some of Munshi sahab's recordings online, but naturally I'm always looking for more. Sadly, CD shops in Rawalpindi-Islamabad don't stock much of them. I'd be terribly glad if you could share your Mojo id with me so that I could share some of yours. Mine is , it'd be brilliant if you could add me, i'm sure you'd find something interesting in my itunes library too...

14 June, 2009 12:11

Blogger Musab said...

I'm afraid the Mojo thing didn't seem to work out properly.
I've found two or three of Munshi sahab's albums from the '70s EMI catalogue and would love to share 'em if you could give adding me on Mojo another try.

09 September, 2009 23:06

Anonymous obv said...

kidwai sahab, how could one get to those (hear-breakingly rare) recordings of munish Raziuddin?

12 October, 2009 07:04


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