Author's Note: If you want to read the 1st part of this post... and listen to this fabulous song, click HERE.
For the 2nd part, click HERE.
This is the concluding part. Let me begin this post with five fabulous songs. From the album "Ustad & The Divas". Ustad Sultan Khan with Chitra, Sunidhi Chauhan and Shreya Ghoshal. Music: Sandesh Shandilya. Lyrics: Irshad Kamil. The songs are amazing, to say the least. Really... "music is the food of love." Though I must admit... I have never doubted that *smiling*
You can download all the 10 songs from HERE. Following are the links to their videos.
2. Ustad & The Divas - 'More Piya' - LINK.
3. Ustad & The Divas - 'Billo' - LINK.
4. Ustad & The Divas - 'Haire Raatbhar' - Ustad Sultan Khan and Chitra (LINK).
5. Ustad & The Divas - 'Leja Leja Re' - Ustad Sultan Khan with Shreya Ghoshal (LINK).
Marvelous, romantic and refreshing songs... all. You are sure to enjoy them.
Here are a few more for you to savour.
1. 'Chandni si Raat' - Ustad Sultan Khan and Ustad Zakir Hussain - Video LINK. The Magic of Sarangi... music is truly divine. Wah Ustad Wah!
2. 'Shaam Dhale' - Chitra and Ustad Sultan Khan - Video LINK. It is a soothing song and brings back memories. (Its evening again/ time passes, it does not wait for anyone/ look another day has passed us by/ it is time to stop all the negativities/ and learn to live... and love...). So true yet so magical!
3. 'Maula Maula' - Ustad Sultan Khan. Features DJ Suketu - Video LINK.
Lets get back to Zeb and Haniya. Here is a little background info... on them. 'Zeb and Haniya' was conceived circa 2000-2003, during the girls' college days in the United States, where Zeb studied Economics and History of Art while Haniya studied Computer Science and Anthropology (at Smith College and Mount Holyoke College in the Pioneer Valley). 'Chup', their first song, came to life in sessions at an abandoned café in the basement of Zeb's dorm. After a tremendous response from the college community, Zeb and Haniya recorded a rough version of 'Chup' and another song titled 'Yaad' with Mekaal Hasan of Mekaal Hasan Band fame (website). Once again, the response was remarkable... and the songs were a hit.
Produced by Mekaal Hasan, 'Chup' also features some of the best talent that Pakistan has today: Gumby, Shallum, Kamran Zafar, Mohammad Ahsan Papu, Omran Shafique, Hamza Jafri, Sameer Ahmed and Sikandar Mufti; as well as Norwegian musician Hildegunn Øiseth. The album (also titled 'Chup') opens with the song 'Chup' and the vocals on this are a treat to listen to.
You can download all the 10 songs in this album - 'Chup' - a myriad of jazz, blues and rock with a pinch of folk and classical thrown in, courtesy this LINK. It contains 9 songs. The 10th song 'Ahaan' can be downloaded from HERE.
I've already given the links for 'Paimana Bideh' - by far one of the best songs on the album - in the 1st part of this post. Now, I'll give you a little background about the remaining 9 songs and the links to some of their videos as well. They are a must-watch! So, here you go:
1. 'Chup' is this sweet, folksy song that packs a jazzy punch because of the use of the trumpet, played by Hildegunn. It has very simple lyrics... yet the song is very endearing. [Video Link].
2. 'Chup' is followed by 'Rona Chhor Diya' which packs a far stronger punch - the girls sound infinitely more passionate, the music is fiery as is the chorus 'maine rona chhor diya' (tr: I've stopped crying). Take a note of the lyrics 'paani barsa / yeh dil tarsa / par jab beeta thoda arsa / maine rona chhor diya' (tr: it rained / my heart pined / but after a while / I stopped crying) and 'ab to bas mai hi khabar hoon / gardish main hoon / rahguzar hoon / toofaan hoon main / tera darr hoon' (tr: now, I'm the news / I'm revolving / I walk the path / I'm a force of nature / I am your fear) - 'Rona Chhor Diya' could very well become the darker, twisted Pakistani version of post-breakup anthems like, Destiny's Child's 'Survivor', Gloria Gaynor's 'I will survive' and Meredith Brooks' 'B**ch'. [Video link].
3. The next track 'Kabhi Na Kabhi' has darker undertones - it evokes images of old black and white films and would be perfect for a hindi film soundtrack. A poignant track, carried through by the vocals and the smooth and sultry trumpet provided by Øiseth. [Video link - performed live].
4. 'Kahaan' is fairly forgettable and it highlights the only issue I have with the album; that listening to it from start to finish makes it feel slightly monotonous. Whereas, if you listen to the songs individually they're all great listening. Perhaps the CD would make for a better hear if the track listing was done in a better way.
5. 'Chal Diye' has an absolutely beautiful guitar arrangement - kudos to Shallum, Kamran, Haniya and Mekaal, and the song's vocals have more of a classical flavour as opposed to the earlier tracks. A slow acoustic ballad that soothes the listener into the lyrics. [Video Link].
6. 'Ahaan' is another track to keep an ear out for - this alternative pop song will be a big hit if Zeb and Haniya opt to make a video for it. [Video Link - this is an amazing track with animation].
7. 'Seh Na Sakay' is another song with an old-world feel to it, like 'Kabhi Na Kabhi' which features early on in the album.
8. 'Aitebar' is an instant classic and here the vocals suddenly sound so much more grown up - even seductive. The song's been complemented by a fantastic video directed by Saqib Malik, who has showcased the concept fantastically through dance. The video, shot in a gorgeous haveli, shows a couple dancing to symbolize their relationship, until the girl closes the door (literally!) on it. The basic concept is a woman who's ended the relationship and she's symbolically closing the door of the house... where she spent time with her partner, husband, we don't know, that's been left open.
And as she goes through each room she relives a part of her relationship that coincides with what Zeb and Haniya are singing about, the emotion they're trying to express. So sometimes it's anger, sometimes it's hatefulness, nostalgia, freedom, some sort of tension...
Zeb and Haniya look gorgeous as they stand on the sidelines and sing this song in the video. The line 'raat thee teri to ab din hai mera' (tr: if the night was yours, the day is mine) jumps out - and the song finishes off with mélange of guitar and drums, proving how much better live drums sound on an album. [Video Link].
9. 'Ban Kay Touri Jogan' features Zeb on vocals and is probably the most fast-paced song on the album. Zeb holds her own in the face of lyrics that one would usually hear from classical music singers, and it is perhaps the most befitting end to this album. It starts slow but picks up a very fusion-like sound, showcasing the singer's tutelage of classical music.
'Zeb and Haniya' is the music I want to listen to on a holiday, weekend or on a Sunday morning/afternoon. Great vocals; not so mellow that I wander back into bed, but not so aggressive that I'm further traumatized... the first few hours I'm up after hearing them, that is. I'm sure you'll second my opinion/views. Their music draws on a number of different traditions - folk, the blues, jazz, rock, swing (!), ghazals, qawwali, Hindustani classical music, and Turkish and Lebanese music.
In their grandmother's house in Kohat in the North-West Frontier Province, recall Zeb and Haniya, there were always "lots of harmoniums and tablas lying around." Their uncles, "all big strapping Pathan men," sang "beautifully." And their grandmother too wrote and sang in three languages - Pashto, Urdu and Punjabi.
"We are not fighting our culture to make music. When Pathan families get together, there's lots of fun, lots of food, lots of meat, and lots of music. That has been fading away from our experience and other people's perception of Pathan culture. It is something we want to reclaim," said Zeb.
Their songs bring a spectrum of style, instrumentation and influence. Some tracks ring with the cheeriness of pop while others capture the evocative richness of Pashto and Farsi folk traditions. Their sound is not confined to one genre, and has been described as alternative, art folk, ethnic blues and World Music. Their influences are many, including pioneering pop and folk from Pakistan, 60s and 70s folk guitar-based music from the US and UK, classical South Asian music, classic jazz, delta blues.
The artists skim across decades, genres and borders to produce a truly innovative sound. Their songs seamlessly mix blues grooves and jazzy rhythms into complex melodies grounded in local traditions. Finally, we have a sound that touches the brilliant kaleidoscope of language, history, art and culture that is South-Asia... or rather this region. The band draws upon a diverse set of influences including Suzanne Vega, Turkish singer Barış Manço, and jazz and blues singers like Muddy Waters. They have been touted as the successors to the iconic Pakistani pop singer Nazia Hassan, a singer who achieved worldwide fame in the 1980s. Remember the song "Aap Jaisa Koi" from the Feroz Khan-Vinod Khanna-Zeenat Aman starrer (1980) hindi film Qurbani? Remember the voice behind the super-hit song "Boom Boom"... ?? Here is the video of yet another of her popular songs - "Disco Deewane". Sadly, Nazia passed away on August 13, 2000 in London due to lung cancer... at the age of 35.
In an outstanding display of chivalry, it was some of the top male musicians in the industry (in Pakistan) who held the door open for Zeb and Haniya: Mekaal Hasan, Shallum Xavier, Louis 'Gumby' Pinto, Omran Shafique, Hamza Jafri, Sameer Ahmed and Sikander Mufti (from Co-Ven), are just some of the musicians. Fulfilling the duty of brass instruments here is Hildegen Øiseth, an established Norwegian Jazz musician. His trumpets serenade the songs and their lyrics, and quite frankly if you remove his contribution to the album, it would sound incomplete and unfinished. These gents did everything from contributing music to help on production details on this album, and one wonders if there was a case of "too many cooks spoiling the broth" here. Thankfully, under the careful eye (and ear) of Mekaal Hasan, everything is in proportion.
Let me end this post with the great 13th-century Persian poet and sufi mystic Rumi. His poems elegantly and consistently touch our inner being and inspire us to go beyond our limitations towards the Divine. Enlightened souls such as Rumi belong to the entire world... as do all great genius', masterpieces and works of (true) art. When it comes to spiritual manifestations... elements such as nationalities, language, gender, time and space do not apply. Rumi was a global citizen, a lover of all of God's creation. A note for those who overlook his message and want to 'claim' Rumi as their own (country, nationality, language, etc) - they've missed the point completely. The sufi poet's message of love still reverberates years after his death (LINK).
You can read some of Rumi's 'Poems of Passion' (translated into English) - HERE.
1. Rumi's poetry: 'Say I Am You' (a Sufi poem) - LINK. I've been seeking the One for a while now, it's hard, but it's worth it. At moments I feel the Divine within every fiber of my being, taking me over completely. For the rest of my life I wish to know only Him, but I still have so much seeking to do.
2. Rumi's Poem, Iranian Music and Divine Dance - LINK. This video is on the theme of divine love, unity, oneness and the similarity of nations/faiths. God is separate from nothing and nothing is separate from God. We are all ONE. Nothing else matters. God loves everyone.
The music is from the album titled "Gift Of Love Vol.1". The Artist is Deepak Chopra. The track name is "Agony And Ecstasy Of Divine Discontent". The poem is by Rumi, recited by Madonna (not sure if she is the right person to recite it, though). The singer and the Music are Iranian.
Enjoy... and have a great weekend!
Note: Some info gathered, courtesy Wikipedia and instep.
There is some disappointment in seeing how Pakistani record labels market their bands. If one were to visit Zeb and Haniya's website, they get a much closer feel to the group's music than the one depicted on their album. The picture on the back of the album, for example, is a much more relaxed and truer image of the two women than the one on the front - juxtaposed in darkness and with big, bold, manly letters. Clearly the record label needs to let their bands be true to themselves. But a book can't be judged by its cover and a band (in this case) not by its album cover. Zeb and Haniya are all set to be heard out loud and clear, across the radio, on the telly and on your music players. They will be anything but 'chup' from now on...
K.S. Chitra is also known as the 'Nightingale of South India'. I think she is simply amazing!
Rumi's poetry: 'Say I Am You' (Sufi poem): The credits do appear at the end of this video, but it is by the composer, Eleni Karaindrou, and is the theme music called "Eternity and a Day" from the movie, Aggelopoulos.
The cover of the album "Ustad & The Divas". Quite appropriate for this post, right... ?!! Pic courtesy: link.