Ebadat Vol 1 With Bismillah Khan (2000)

Ustad Vilayat Khan

Shehnai Player
Bismillah Khan (Ustad)
Khurdak Player
Basharat Hussain
Tabla Players
Nazim Hussain, Sabir Khan (Ustad)

About this album

Vilayat Khan was born some time between 1924 and 1928 (no one is quite sure), in Gouripur in East Bengal (now Bangladesh), into a family of renowned sitarists. The best known of these are his father Ustad Inayat Khan and grandfather Ustad Imdad Khan, although the family claims a lineage going back several generations earlier.

Vilayat Khan began his training under his illustrious father, who sadly died when he was still a child. The young sitarist managed however to complete his musical education under the guidance of other family members including his mother Bashiran Begum and his uncle Ustad Wahid Khan, and of his father's disciple D.T.Joshi. It is not difficult to see why Vilayat Khan is regarded as the finest exponent of the sitar to be produced by the Imdadkhani gharana; his technical virtuosity and control even at unbelievably high speeds will always impress. Equally impressive however is the imagination be shows in the constant unearthing of new and beautiful patterns in any rag he performs, incorporating a wide range of right and left-hand techniques. Allied to natural showmanship this makes him an irresistible performer.

Vilayat Khan would normally be accompanied by the tabla and the stringed drone instrument tanpura, whereas in the shehnai 'party', which would normally accompany Ustad Bismillah Khan, the drone is provided not by tanpuras but by 'sur' shehnais. Drum accompaniment for the shehnai is provided by the tabla, together with a pair of small kettledrums called khurdak.

The ensemble heard here is therefore a compromise between those normally used by the two soloists. Two tabla players took the stage, Vilayat Khan's accompanist Sabir Khan, and Bismillah Khan's, his son Nazim Hussain. A third percussionist is present in the form of khurdak player Basharat Hussain, while the drone is given by a number of sur shehnais. Sabir Khan is of course a well-known artist in his own right, one of India's leading tabla players. He was also brought up in a hereditary musical family, the son of Keramatullah Khan of Farukhabad gharana.

Rag Yamani
Rag Yamani is a close relative of Hindustani music's best-known rag, Yaman. Yamani uses the same notes as Yaman, all the shuddh svaras and tivra Ma [4#]. The main difference is that shuddh Ma [4n] is much more prominent in Yamani. Vilayat Khan explains that rag Yamani has two principal rasas. Shanta is brought to the fore through the use of tivra Ma, he says, while Shringara is evoked by shuddh Ma [4n]

The two artists begin their presentation with an extended introduction, the alap. Ins Vilayat Khan's relaxed early exploration of the rag, the alternation of the two Mas and their associated moods is effectively and beautifully manipulated. The main composition here is a khyal bandish in madhya lay teental. Early on we hear two tabla solos, the first by Sabir Khan and the second by Nazim Hussain. Then, before the main instrumental improvisation, Vilayat Khan puts down his instrument in order to sing the composition, 'Sakhi mori..', which he has been playing on the sitar.

Before long we hear the final member of the ensemble, the khurdak of Basharat Hussain. This little known instrument is quite distinct in tone and playing style from the tabla. It is heard here in relatively short bursts, but to great effect, especially when accompanying Vilayat Khan's solo improvisations.


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