Punjab Folk musician Jasdev Yamla Jatt passed away in Ludhiana on Saturday. He was 60 and was the son of ‘Tumbi’ legend Ustaad Late Lal Chand Yamla Jatt. Jasdev is credited with not only keeping the legacy of his father (who had passed away in 1991) of playing ‘tumbi’, a traditional folk music instrument of Punjab, alive but also making it popular in modern Punjabi music industry by exploring this folk instrument in new ways. The ‘Jatt Yamla’ family of Ludhiana is known for preserving dying art of playing ‘tumbi’ in Punjabi folk music. After Partition, the family had shifted from Lyallpur in Pakistan to Ludhiana. The family currently lives in Jawahar Nagar area of Ludhiana.
Suresh Yamla Jatt, nephew and shagird (student) of Jasdev Yamla Jatt, speaking to The Indian Express said, “More than my uncle, Jasdev Yamla Jatt was my guru. He taught me how to play tumbi and keep tradition of our family alive. Since childhood, he had learnt to play tumbi from my grandfather. Since past 2-3 days, he was feeling unwell. He was a heart patient. On Friday, he was feeling uneasy and vomited blood. We took him to Guru Teg Bahadur Charitable Hospital but he was declared dead on arrival.”
He added that his uncle had given his last performance at a fair few days back. “Despite all difficulties that he faced after death of his father Ustaad Lal Chand Yamla Jatt, he did not leave playing tumbi and continued to pursue this dying folk music instrument. His soul lied in playing tumbi and he continued to experiment new tunes and songs even when he would be unwell,” said Suresh Yamla Jatt.
“It is because of his efforts that tumbi is again becoming popular and now being used by modern Punjabi singers in their songs,” he added. “We just want that government of Punjab should not let this tradition die and keep this heritage of Punjab alive by promoting tumbi artists. My uncle trained many of his students,” he said.
Ninder Singh Ghugianvi, who conducted research on Lal Chand Yamla Jatt and is author of five books on tumbi legend, said, “Jasdev’s real contribution to tumbi music of Punjab is that he took it ahead from where his father left. He explored instrument in a way no one else did has done till now. He created new tunes using all seven sur on tumbi which is not easy. Apart from live performances, he was regular performer for All India Radio (AIR) and TV.”
The most popular and notable works of Jasdev Yamla Jatt include his album ‘Challa’ and songs- ‘Majjhan Chaar Da Jagat Da Valli’ and ‘Satguru Nanak Aaja’. Dr Surjit Patar, noted Punjabi poet and chairman Punjab Arts Counil, said that tumbi has lost it’s another maestro and Punjab will always be indebted to this family for keeping tumbi alive. “Seeing the difficulties that are faced by folk artists, it was very easy for Jasdev to leave this art after his father died. But he did not give up. He not only kept legacy of his father alive but took it to new heights. When we talk about tumbi, it is synonymous to Yamla Jatt family in Punjab. He proved to be a true shishya of his father by keeping his legacy and tumbi of Punjab alive. His father’s love for tumbi can be gauged from the fact that he even sang about story of tumbi in his songs,” said Patar.
Jasdev Yamla Jatt is survived by wife Sarabjit Kaur, son Rupesh Yamla and daughter Jinky Rani. Kaur is also a folk music artist and plays instrument ‘chimta’ and the couple recorded several songs together. However, his nephews- Suresh Yamla and Vijay Yamla- are the only ones who play tumbi in family now. Punjab tourism and cultural affairs minister Navjot Singh Sidhu in a condolence message said that contribution of this family in clean and quality folk singing can never be forgotten.