Making It Happen!

The Beauty of Khyal — A Recital of Night Ragas

I’m as happy with this recording as I’ve ever been. The recording session we did on August 16 of this year was wonderfully productive, and this CD represents the first installment of the raga performances Milind Pote, Chaitanya Kunte, and I laid down that night.

Please pitch in. You’ll love this music.

Dadar Concert, August 13, 2013

Ragas Purvi, Nayaki Kanada, Khamaj (Tappa-ang thumri), and a Sindhi lok-geet — all performed in what appeared to be the world’s largest shower stall. With Mukta Raste – tabla, and Ravindra Lomate – harmonium. Thanks to Nandu Dhaneshwar and Neela Bhagwat for arranging this program at Shivaji Park Nagarik Sangh.

Music videos are below the fold:

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Toronto Concert, July 20, 2013

Toronto, June 20, 2013. Ragas Kamod, Nayaki Kanada, Pahadi, Bhairavi. With Ravi Naimpally on tabla and Raya Bidaye on harmonium, performing under the auspices of Toronto’s Raga Mala society.

Music videos below the fold:

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V. R. Athavale

V.R. Athavale – born December 20, 1918. A khyaliya of Agra gharana, he learned with Pt. V.N. Patwardhan and Ustad Vilayat Hussein Khan, and was known as a teacher and author (a biography of Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar). These recordings are from an All India Radio broadcast.

Raga Dhanashri

Raga Lalit Pancham

Raga Bhupali Todi

Raga Bahaduri Todi

Raga Lachari Todi

Raga Hussaini Todi

Raga Samant Sarang

Pune Concert, August 20, 2011

This concert was arranged by Chaitanya Kunte, the extraordinary musicologist, composer and harmonium virtuoso.

It was a pleasant and unusual experience to have two melodic accompanists — Chaitanyaji on harmonium and Eeshan Devasthali (my Guruji’s grandson) on violin. Milind Pote provided the rock-solid and very sympathetic tabla sangat.


Shyam Kalyan
Puriya Dhanashri
Tilak Kamod

Here’s the concert, embedded as a single playlist:

Nasik Concert, August 19, 2011

Finally getting around to uploading and embedding the concerts from last summer’s trip to India. Here is the concert from Nasik embedded as a single playlist, leading off with Puriya Kalyan, and including Mian ki Malhar, Kafi tappa, Tilak Kamod, Khamaj, Pahadi and Bhairavi.

I greatly enjoyed this evening. Nitin Ware’s accompaniment was extremely solid, and Dyaneshwar Sonawane gave very supportive sangat on harmonium.

Note the cascade of inaccuracies in the news clipping. I began studying khyal in 1977, went to India first in 1985. I never studied with Nana Joshi, who was my Guru’s first teacher. Etc., etc., etc.

I’m grateful to Asmita Sevekare and her father for arranging this program. With luck I’ll go back there again next year.

This review is remarkable for its near-complete inaccuracy!

More Early Mallikarjun Mansur To Delight Your Ears

Three more gems from Buwa’s Gwalior period, for your enjoyment:

“Karnataka Kafi”


Raga Puriya


Raga Brindabani Sarang

Faiyaaz Khan: Aftaab-e-Mausiqi

Raga Darbari Kanada


Ustad Faiyaz Khan is so far the best known exponent of Agra Gharana in Hindustani classical music. He was the master khayal vocalist of his time. Born at Sikandara near Agra in 1886 (contested as 1888, 1889)[1], he was the son of Shabr Hussain, who died three months before his birth. He was brought up by his maternal grandfather, Ghulam Abbas (1825?-1934), who taught him music, up to the age of 25. He was also a student of Ustad Mehboob Khan Darspiya, his father-in-law and was a for short time a disciple of Ustad Jagadguru Mallick of Calcutta who had the famous sarodiya Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan and the renowned sitarist Ustad Enayet Khan in his tutelege.

An extraordinary performance of Raga Desh.


The vocalist and historian Susheela Misra writes:

Faiyaz Khan’s musical lineage goes back to Tansen himself. His family is traced back to Alakhdas, Malukdas and then to Haji Sujan Khan (son of Alakhdas who became a Muslim.) Genius, musical ancestary, and training combined to give us this wonderful artist-one of the most reputed and respected exponents of Hindustani classical music in recent times. He had the exceptional good fortune of receiving his talim in Dhrupad singing from his grand father, Ghulam Abbas Khan; and in Dhamar from his grand uncle, Ustad Kallan Khan, both of whom were leading musicians of the rangila gharana in the second half of the last century. Kallan Khan was the younger brother of Ghulam Abbas Khan and, therefore, the grand-uncle of Faiyaz Khan Sahib. Ghulam Abbas Khan was his maternal grandfather, and Rangeela Ramzan Khan his paternal great grandfather. Faiyaz Khan’s uncle, Fida Hussain was a court musician in Tonk (Rajputana). Faiyaz was born at Sikandra near Agra in 1880 and he died in Baroda on 5th November 1950. As his father Safdar Hussain died very early, his grandfather adopted him and brought him up as his own son. Ghulam Abbas Khan, the son of the great Ghagge Khuda Bux and an intimate friend of Bairam Khan, not only imparted to the boy the authentic taleem of his gharana, but also took the promising young Faiyaz on a “pilgrimage of music”, visiting all the important centres of music, listening to great contemporary musicians, and bringing him practical experience in concert singing. By the time he was 18, Faiyaz Khan had become such a “polished” artist that he began to give recitals in places like Bombay, Calcutta and Gwalior. Once at Bombay, 24 year-old Faiyaz got a chance to hear the great Miyanjan Khan, a pupil of the great Fateh Ali Khan of Patiala. Immediately after him, Faiyaz was asked to sing. At first he copied Miyanjan Khan’s Multani in the latter’s style and then he demonstrated in his own style-both in such a masterly way that Miyanjan Khan embraced the young singer and exclaimed in genuine appreciation: “Tum hi ustad ho” (you are a true descendant of the masters of the art.) It was an age of gentlemen-musicians. Link


The canonical chiz in Raga Chhayanat, Jhanana jhanana.


While people used to admire his flawless diction in Urdu, Hindi, etc, they used to be amazed at his graceful and fine pronunciation of Braj-Bhasha in which a large number of Khayals, Dhamars, etc, are couched. This was because Faiyaz Khan spent his early years in the Braj-Bhasha areas like Mathura, Agra, Atrauli, etc. His father-in-law, Mahboob Khan of Atrauli, was none other than the reputed composer Daras Piya whose khayals in ragas like. Jog, Anandi, etc, are still so popular. Another relation–Suras Piya- was a wellknown composer who lived a recluse’s life in Mathura.

The song Man Mohan Brij ko Rasiya (in Paraj) which Faiyaz Khan has made famous, is a sample of Saras Piya’s compositions. Faiyaz Khan himself composed many songs under the penname Prem Piya.

In his youthful “halcyon days” Faiyaz Khan sat in the company of great artists like Moizzuddin, Bhaiya Ganapatrao and Malkajan. That was how he had imbibed the romantic Thumri style and could render Dadras and Ghazals so imaginatively. Many a time I have witnessed Faiyaz Khan rendering the Bhairavi Thumri “Babul Mora” and drawing tears out of the listeners’ eyes. Faiyaz Khan used to say that Malkajan’s Bhairavi-Thumris were peerless. And Malka even in her obscure later years never missed the Ustad’s concerts in Calcutta. Unlike some highbrow musicians, Faiyaz Khan never looked down on light classical types of songs. He used to say:- “It is not a child’s play to sing a Thumri or a Ghazal. The essence is the bol-but one has to be very imaginative and original.” Even into a simple Dadra he could pour a lot of genuine emotion. Link


Another “Payal baaje” bandish, this time the classic in Nat Bihag.


Ramkali: Un sanga laagi ankhiyan. His layakari is very enjoyable.

Ustad Faiyaz Khan would render a full scale ‘Nom-Tom’ alap and follow it up with khayal compositions, thus blending dhrupad and khayal and giving his gayaki more flexibility. His bol-banawo, bant, layakari, and his inimitable style of reaching the sam are unmatched even today. He was a great composer himself, his pen name being #145;Prempiya’. His compositions in raga Jaijaiwanti, Jog etc. are treasured by Agra singers to this day. In fact, Faiyaz Khan’s Agra gayaki became so famous that most of his students and followers would actually copy him to the very last detail, imitating even his voice.


Baju band khul khul jaaye in Raga Bhairavi. One of the pivotal renderings of a timeless classic. Enjoy his layakari and occasional tappa-ang taans in the laggi section.

Another Bhairavi, Banao batiyaan. This wonderful dadra performance is packed with emotion. Note his heartfelt pukaras as he approaches the top Shadja; nobody can evoke emotion like this anymore, alas. Also notice his inclusion of vernacular, “speechy” utterances like “Aare haan” (“Oh, yeah!”) in the course of his rendering, rather like a contemporary bluesman.

Mallikarjunbua Before Jaipur-Atrauli Training

Here are some more of the 78 prm discs from Mallikarjun Mansur’s early period, when he was still singing Gwalior gayaki. These recordings are utterly delightful.

Gaud Malhar:




Singing Is Nothing But Joy: An Appreciation of Mallikarjun Mansur

The first time I heard the music of Pandit Mallikarjun Mansur was in 1978, very early in my study of Hindustani music. I’d taken a survey course on Indian music at the Harvard Extension, and the professor gave me an assortment of vocal music that included Mansur’s rendition of a beautiful rainy-season raga, Gaud Malhar.

It was strikingly different from the other music on the tape. More than any of the other singers represented, this vocalist really seemed to be enjoying himself. There was a rhythmic playfulness that spoke to my jazz-loving self, integrated with the serene aesthetic flow that characterizes Hindustani music. His voice was a high, slightly raspy tenor; his range was relatively narrow; his breath control preternatural.

I asked other people about Mansur. This was the late 1970s, and most of the people I knew in the Indian music community had never heard of him; as it turns out, he had not been performing widely for decades and had only recently returned to the notice of the concertgoing public in India. Over the next few years I gradually acquired tape recordings of his LP records, whetting my appetite for more of this remarkable singer’s remarkable music. Nobody I knew on the Indian tape-trading network had any concert recordings, and the Internets hadn’t been invented yet.

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