Shafqat Ali Khan

Sufi Songs From India & Pakistan

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While his previous albums (at least those in the West) have focused primarily on qawwali, Shafqaat Ali Khan here presents a program of Sham Chaurasi, a related style to qawwali with somewhat less speed, but a bit more care given to the ornamentation. The album starts out with a bit of a rare Punjabi style, kafi. As he progresses, he touches upon a couple of love songs and a cheerful raga, leading into thumris in raga "Piloo" and "Nadiya Kinare." A rendition of an exploration in raga "Yaman Kalyan," from the great Amir Khusrau, anchors the center of the album with the history of Sufi music. More basic devotional and love (hued both ways) songs follow, with a quick stop on the rare "Raga Bhutyar," a morning raga that is rarely performed. The album finishes on a nice bit of dadra, a quick thumri. Here, Khan also comes in on the surmandal to great effect. The highlights of the album are somewhat hard to pick out, as the course is almost uniformly well performed. The ending dadra, as well as "Lakh Jatan" (with an almost East Asian sound), is nice, due to the instrumentalism's interplay with Khan's vocals. "Raga Bhutyar" is also a welcome addition, for the rarity as well as his vocal prowess. Overall, Khan is a powerful singer. Not at the level perhaps of Nusrat and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, but Shafqaat Ali Khan also branches out into related forms, which allows him to fill a different niche.

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