Bismillah Khan

India: The Magic Shenai of Ustad Bismillah Khan

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The shenai virtuso presents two ragas, recorded only a few years before he went into a decade-long retirement. Back-up musicians including drums and what sounds like a second shenai player are uncredited. The master is in the on position from the moment he starts playing, treating the listener to a tone as sweet and rich as a well-soaked ball of gulab jamin pastry, and that is just when he is warming up. Heads may spin from the onslaught of triplets or the sheer extension of some phrases. Through astonishing breath control and heavy duty concentration he is able to create passages of epic length, of course without ever losing track of the intense detail possible within each note. He is one of a select group of Indian classical players who seem to do no wrong, and that certainly is the case with his recorded output. This album is on his usual high level.

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