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07 janvier 2008

Jazz meets Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

I am not sure how ATP readers will react to this, but let me say that I have been totally mesmerized by this music and have had it on auto-repeat play for the last three days.

But, first let me thank Zeeshan Suhail, on whose blog I found this wonderful fusion/jazz band called Brook’s Qawwali Party (BQP).

BQP produces a captivating sound based on Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s classic works and turn it into a unique and peculiar fusion of sufi qawalli rhythyms and jazz. But I will let them explain what they and their music is about. According to the BQP webpage:

What would happen if New York jazz musicians were to play and improvise around the melodies of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan? From this idea, Brook’s Qawwali Party was born. consists of fourteen musicians: five horns, three percussionists, guitar, acoustic bass, harmonium and three designated clappers. The exuberant sound of BQPBQP has been enthusiastically welcomed in New York City and across the globe.

According to Sepia Mutiny “Brook’s Qawwali Party is … made up of non-desi Brooklynites who get together in Park Slope… [they are] probably one of the only Sufi bands with Jewish members in existence.”

Of the half dozen audio clips that are available at their website, my favorite is ‘Beh Haadh Ramza Dhasdha’ (He Manifests Himself in Many Forms) which you can listen to by clicking below or on the image on the left, or by going to their web page.

I am a big fan of the original by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (in the album Shahbaaz) — I believe it is a tribute to Mansoor Hallaj shouting Ana al Haqq, even as he is executed on the gallows.

The BQP version has a very different quality to it and in the beginning I could not pin it down. But as I hear it again and again it seems to me that because they are using horns, their version has a shaadi waala band sound to it (I say this as a compliment because I am a huge fan of shaadi waala brass bands).

This particular clip starts rather abruptly, but from around 25 seconds onwards (espeically to around 1 minutes 15 sections) there is this wonderful interplay of sounds and of instruments that should gladden the hearts of qawalli fans as well as jazz fans.

Anyhow, do listen and make up your own mind.

Of the other clips on their site, I also like Tou Kareemi very much. It again has that interplay of horns that reminds me of a good military band playing at a shaadi. Both of these are rather ‘fast’ numbers. If you are looking for mellower sounds you should try their rendition of Man Kuntou Moula. Their versions of Mast Mast and Allah Hou, Allah Hou are not bad but these seemed much more like instrumental versions of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s originals and, especially in the later, the chant of ‘Allah Hou’ gets a little too Americanized in accent for my taste.

But, over all, I thought this was great stuff.

Adil Najam

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