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  • Muslims, Modernity and the West: Remembering Nusrat


    by Jai
    7th February, 2010 at 9:11 pm    

    This is a follow-up article to the previous two-part article published during the autumn (Part 1, Part 2).

    Some fantastic official clips of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s huge UK concerts last October in conjunction with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in tribute to his late uncle, the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, have finally surfaced on Youtube, so a selection is presented below along with a few more videos I thought it would be constructive to include. You can also read some reviews of the concerts at the end of this article.

    ”Jhoole Lal”, a tribute to Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (1177 – 1274), the most famous historical Sufi from Sindh and a friend of Baba Farid (the Punjabi Sufi whose hymns were later included in the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scriptures of Sikhism). Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was renowned for his message of mutual religious tolerance and friendship between Muslims and Hindus, and is still venerated by members of both groups in the subcontinent (video here).

    ”Kinna Sohna [Tenu Rab ne Banaya]” – “How beautiful God has made you” (English translation of the lyrics here)

    ”Jism Dhamakta”

    BBC Asian Network presenter Nikki Bedi interviewing Rahat

    Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan singing “Sanu Ik Pal Chain Na Aave [Sajna Tere Bina]” – “I cannot find a moment’s peace, my beloved, without you” (English translation of the lyrics to the “Mustt Mustt” album version here)

    Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan singing a Sikh hymn from the Guru Granth Sahib promoting tolerance between people of different religions, sung in the Sufi ‘qawwali’ style; an English translation of the lyrics is displayed during the video, and can also be read under the expanded ‘Information’ section on the top right-hand-side, which contains a further explanation of the message and ideals involved.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWvEYprV7kI

    Review of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s UK concerts in October 2009

    From the Guardian: “The applause surges while the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra are still playing the final pages of Dum Mast Qalandar. By the close of this extraordinary concert by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, nephew of legendary Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, everyone is on their feet and cheering. “This isn’t just a concert,” says my neighbour. “It’s an act of worship.” She’s right.

    Nusrat, who died in 1997, attained a level of success equal to that of Pavarotti, the Beatles or John Coltrane. Rahat (born, like his uncle, in Faisalabad, Pakistan) has the tough job of performing some of Nusrat’s best-known songs without coming across like a tribute act. He proves his suitability for the task within seconds, with a dazzling vocal cadenza that follows the epic orchestral opening of Kinna Sohna.

    This is the first time that Nusrat’s music has been performed with an orchestra, and artistic director Tim Pottier throws everything into his orchestrations. He and fellow arranger Andrew Peggie keep the CBSO and conductor Michael Seal busy with bombastic brass, wayward woodwind, thundering timpani, Philip Glass-like repetition and lush romanticism. Rahat’s performance is similarly larger than life.

    Pottier’s orchestral score for Yeh Jo Halka, Halka references both John Adams and Beethoven, while Peggie’s version of Jhoole Lal, Jhoole Lal is reminiscent of 1960s “big pop”. Some arrangements cry out for more space, however – such as the moment in Allah Hoo where the orchestra cuts out to leave Rahat’s syncopated vocals gloriously exposed.

    Two songs feature Rahat’s band without the CBSO – a stomping Afreen Afreen and Akhiyan Udeek Diyan, which have the excitement and subtlety of a great jazz performance. But this is not a night for small gestures: the ecstatic response to the widescreen version of Dum Mast Qalandar is entirely deserved.”

    A transcript of an interview with Rahat by The Asian Today a month before the concert tour, when he discussed his family background and his motivations for performing the concerts, can be read here.


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    19 Comments below   |  

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    1. pickles

      Blog post:: Muslims, Modernity and the West: Remembering Nusrat http://bit.ly/cF49Rk


    2. Allan Siegel

      RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: Muslims, Modernity and the West: Remembering Nusrat http://bit.ly/cF49Rk GOOD ONE!




    1. Jai — on 8th February, 2010 at 10:29 am  

      Some more songs which should be of interest:

      - Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan singing “Sanson ki Mala [pe Simroon Mein Pee ka Naam]” – “With every breath I take, I chant the name of my beloved”; this is actually originally a ‘bhajan’, ie. a Hindu hymn. (English translation of the lyrics here: http://nusrat.bravehost.com/sanson.html )

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZk2q2L3CXY

      - ”Charka” by the Indian Punjabi singers Lakhwinder Wadali and Puran Chand Wadali, from an album produced by Mukhtar Sahota from the UK. (English translation of the lyrics: http://serene-place.blogspot.com/2007/12/todays-serene-place-punjabi-poetry-part.html ; a translation of the introduction to the song is displayed during the video, and further explanations of the rest of the lyrics can be found in the subsequent comments thread. The main part of the song starts at approx. 1m 38s).

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hakbF6uijas

      - Another review of Rahat’s concerts, from the Birmingham Post (http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/music-in-birmingham/2009/10/05/review-remembering-nusrat-at-symphony-hall-65233-24856951/ ):

      Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who died in 1997 at the age of 48, was a revered qawwali singer, whose name reached a much wider audience in the last few years of his life through the emerging world music movement.

      Following their successful collaboration with Indian record company Saregama on the songs of Mohammed Rafi, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and composer Tim Pottier delivered another stimulating venture in blending South Asian and Western orchestral music over the weekend, with concerts in Birmingham, Nottingham and London.

      Nusrat’s nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan – clearly a major artist in his own right – performed 14 of his uncle’s pieces with his ensemble (five backing singers and two percussionists), 12 of them with orchestral backing.

      The event drew an enthusiastic capacity audience and interestingly, despite Nusrat’s “crossover” reputation, it appeared to be almost entirely Asian.

      Marrying a tightly-controlled orchestra to the free-flowing qawwali style presented a challenge, but it bore glorious dividends at times, like the moment when a seemingly improvised vocal arabesque was immediately repeated by the violins.

      The combined power of amplified ensemble and orchestra was considerable – the opening Kinna Sona seemed to pitch us straight away into a storm – though at times I would have liked to hear more orchestral detail.

      Nusrat’s varied repertoire runs from devotional songs to more Bollywood-like pop, so there was no lack of variety and when the mix really took off, the results were thrilling. Even so, there were occasional signs – mainly startled glances between performers – that the whole enterprise was flying by the seat of its pants.

      Great credit goes to Michael Seal, an unflappable presence on the podium, for tying the whole thing together.

      But the real star was Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, with a spectacular vocal performance.

      His two numbers with ensemble alone were so stunning as to raise the awkward question of whether they really needed the orchestra, but the following Jhoole Lal, Jhoole Lal (one of four orchestrations by Andrew Peggie alongside Pottier’s) banished the doubt with its ravishing washes of vocal and instrumental colour.

      Disappointingly, there are no plans to commemorate this innovative project on CD, but Friday’s concert was recorded for broadcast later this week on BBC Asian Network.

      5/5

    2. Jai — on 8th February, 2010 at 10:44 am  

      By the way, for some reason the Youtube screenshot for the “Jhoole Lal” video is refusing to display; however, the URL link has been supplied in the main article, so please do check that out — it was one of the best songs from Rahat’s concert.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpcR0f6A3u8

    3. Jai — on 8th February, 2010 at 11:08 am  

      …..and one more clip from the concert: Rahat singing “Dum Mast Qalandar” (mentioned in the Guardian review quoted in the main article), another tribute to Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwUzkraav2g

    4. Jai — on 8th February, 2010 at 11:13 am  

      (I’ll post the following in separate comments otherwise the multiple URL links will cause issues with PP’s filter)

      Some more songs which should be of interest:

      - Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan singing “Sanson ki Mala [pe Simroon Mein Pee ka Naam]” – “With every breath I take, I chant the name of my beloved”; this is actually originally a ‘bhajan’, ie. a Hindu hymn. (English translation of the lyrics here: http://nusrat.bravehost.com/sanson.html )

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZk2q2L3CXY

    5. Jai — on 8th February, 2010 at 11:14 am  

      (continued)

      - ”Charka” by the Indian Punjabi singers Lakhwinder Wadali and Puran Chand Wadali, from an album produced by Mukhtar Sahota from the UK. (English translation of the lyrics: http://serene-place.blogspot.com/2007/12/todays-serene-place-punjabi-poetry-part.html ; a translation of the introduction to the song is displayed during the video, and further explanations of the rest of the lyrics can be found in the subsequent comments thread. The main part of the song starts at approx. 1m 38s).

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hakbF6uijas

    6. Jai — on 8th February, 2010 at 11:16 am  

      (continued)

      - Another review of Rahat’s concerts, from the Birmingham Post (http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/music-in-birmingham/2009/10/05/review-remembering-nusrat-at-symphony-hall-65233-24856951/ ):

      Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who died in 1997 at the age of 48, was a revered qawwali singer, whose name reached a much wider audience in the last few years of his life through the emerging world music movement.

      Following their successful collaboration with Indian record company Saregama on the songs of Mohammed Rafi, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and composer Tim Pottier delivered another stimulating venture in blending South Asian and Western orchestral music over the weekend, with concerts in Birmingham, Nottingham and London.

      Nusrat’s nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan – clearly a major artist in his own right – performed 14 of his uncle’s pieces with his ensemble (five backing singers and two percussionists), 12 of them with orchestral backing.

      The event drew an enthusiastic capacity audience and interestingly, despite Nusrat’s “crossover” reputation, it appeared to be almost entirely Asian.

      Marrying a tightly-controlled orchestra to the free-flowing qawwali style presented a challenge, but it bore glorious dividends at times, like the moment when a seemingly improvised vocal arabesque was immediately repeated by the violins.

      The combined power of amplified ensemble and orchestra was considerable – the opening Kinna Sona seemed to pitch us straight away into a storm – though at times I would have liked to hear more orchestral detail.

      Nusrat’s varied repertoire runs from devotional songs to more Bollywood-like pop, so there was no lack of variety and when the mix really took off, the results were thrilling. Even so, there were occasional signs – mainly startled glances between performers – that the whole enterprise was flying by the seat of its pants.

      Great credit goes to Michael Seal, an unflappable presence on the podium, for tying the whole thing together.

      But the real star was Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, with a spectacular vocal performance.

      His two numbers with ensemble alone were so stunning as to raise the awkward question of whether they really needed the orchestra, but the following Jhoole Lal, Jhoole Lal (one of four orchestrations by Andrew Peggie alongside Pottier’s) banished the doubt with its ravishing washes of vocal and instrumental colour.

      Disappointingly, there are no plans to commemorate this innovative project on CD, but Friday’s concert was recorded for broadcast later this week on BBC Asian Network.

      5/5

    7. sofia — on 8th February, 2010 at 11:35 am  

      yup it was a great concert…I left feeling elated!
      I asked if he was going to do one in Pakistan as I think this would be really popular but apparently it’s too expensive…such a shame!

    8. dave bones — on 8th February, 2010 at 2:36 pm  

      Cheers for all this. My kitchen is rocking nice one.

    9. Rumbold — on 8th February, 2010 at 7:41 pm  

      Heh Dave.

    10. Kulvinder — on 8th February, 2010 at 8:56 pm  

      Not related to NFAK, but imho a song that is as hauntingly beautiful as anything he produced, Ya allah.

    11. Kulvinder — on 8th February, 2010 at 8:58 pm  

      just had deja vu that ive posted a link to that song before, apologies if i already pointed it out in the past

    12. Austin Carpet Cleaning — on 9th February, 2010 at 2:57 am  

      At last we can see that the world have understood the and it can consider that they not terrorist as they are claimed to be.

    13. Jai — on 9th February, 2010 at 5:40 pm  

      This is a really nice Sufi-themed romantic song from a new Indian film called “Striker”:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_-s7nL4xvM

    14. Jai — on 9th February, 2010 at 5:51 pm  

      Recommended albums by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan :

      (I’ll provide the details in several separate comments, as too many URL links trigger PP’s filter).

      Along with Amazon, these albums are usually available in the “World Music” section of HMV etc. All the URL links below include samples of the songs on each album. The comments by non-Asian reviewers are also very interesting, especially those discussing their reactions when listening to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for the first time.

      1. “Love Songs”: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Songs-Nusrat-Fateh-Khan/dp/B000024ZUH/ref=pd_sim_m_h__4

      2. “Devotional Songs”: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Devotional-Songs-Nusrat-Fateh-Khan/dp/B000025JUJ/ref=pd_sim_m_h__1

    15. Jai — on 9th February, 2010 at 5:53 pm  

      (continued)

      3. “Shahen-Shah”: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shahen-Shah-Nusrat-Fateh-Khan/dp/B000024ZVD

      4. “Shahbaaz”: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shahbaaz-Nusrat-Fateh-Ali-Khan/dp/B00000DR6V

    16. Jai — on 9th February, 2010 at 5:58 pm  

      (continued)

      5. “Emperor”: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Emperor-Introduction-Nusrat-Fateh-Khan/dp/B001P36VVI

      (Especially ‘Dhan Dhan Bhaag Hamare Sajini’ and ‘Ni Main Jana Jogi de Naal’ on CD1).

    17. Jai — on 25th February, 2010 at 4:00 pm  

      One final post:

      An album of a selection of the songs performed live during Rahat’s “Remembering Nusrat” concert is available via Amazon:

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Remembering-Nusrat-Ustad-Memorial-Concert/dp/B002YW8DBA

      Some brief extracts from the songs can also be heard via this URL link.

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