Faiz Ali Faiz

The New Qawwali Voice

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Since the death of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, several artists have put themselves forward to fill the void in qawwali music. Faiz Ali Faiz is among them, and it has to be said that, from this live recording, he's extremely impressive. He even takes on a composition by Khan ("Allah Hu"), which both pays homage to the great master and frees the songs -- especially when the harmonium begins the song with a very Western theme. Faiz uses a lot of call-and-response with his chorus, but he can also take off on piercing sustained notes and expressive flights of fancy where his voice ornaments and extemporizes around the line. He's especially effective on his own "Dil Jis Se Zinda Hai," a n'at that offers praise to the Prophet. In the opening section of the 20-minute piece, he pushes his voice right to the limit, full of palpable emotion. And in a romantic gesture straight out of Bollywood, in the traditional "Mera Piya Ghar Aya," time standing still is symbolized by ending the handclapping of the group (or "party," as they're known), even as the tabla continues, pointing out that time cannot be stopped. Faiz is one of the convincing, and adventurous, qawwali singers to have appeared in the early 2000s.

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