A Different ‘Philo Sufi’

Azaan Khan,grandson of Ustad Vilayat Khan,breaks the family tradition of playing the sitar to bring out a contemporary Sufi album.

Written by Suanshu Khurana | Published:April 2, 2012 3:46 am

Azaan Khan,grandson of Ustad Vilayat Khan,breaks the family tradition of playing the sitar to bring out a contemporary Sufi album.

For somebody who is the grandson of sitar legend Ustad Vilayat Khan,and is associated with the rich musical lineage of the famous Imdadkhani gharana that boasts of geniuses such as Ustad Enayet Khan and Grammy-nominated Shujaat Khan,23-year old Azaan Khan developed the penchant for harnessing sweet tones early in life. “Our house throbbed with enchanting melodies and the amplified strains of sitar,and getting influenced was not difficult. I grew up listening to my father singing certain bandishes to teach his students,so music just became an integral element of my life,” says Azaan,who did not learn the family instrument that has had a ubiquitous presence in several generations of his illustrious family.

“I was always more inclined towards western music. Playing the piano,strumming guitars and writing simple poetry inspired from old bandishes and Sufi poetry by Amir Khusrau and Rumi was an important part of me,” says Azaan,who released his contemporary Sufi music album,titled Philo Sufi (Sa Re Ga Ma,Rs 295),in the Capital on Friday.

It was during an apprenticeship under music directors Salim and Sulaiman at their newly set up studio,Blue,in the posh lanes of Mumbai’s Juhu,that Azaan’s songs were heard by the artiste and repertoire managers of Sa Re Ga Ma,who immediately put him into a studio,to record eight tracks for the album. “An album that is not sitar-based does sound like a break from the tradition. But I was never pressurised by my father or anybody in the family to play the instrument. The tradition of the family is to make good music. So I am doing that. I am only expressing myself differently,” says Azaan,adding that his father,Shujaat,loves the music.

The album opens with Akhiyan mori tarse,a track with Hindi lyrics but a contemporary sound with bass,synth and some simple percussion. This is followed by a more traditional version of the same song that features his father. Most other tracks in the album,which have been sung by Azaan,are an interesting combination of dubstep,drum,bass and contemporary jazz.

“I think I am more of a composer and would eventually like to compose for Bollywood,” says Azaan,who learnt western classical music at AR Rahman’s KM Conservatory in Chennai. The musician has also formed a band and will start an India tour next month

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