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05/08/2015
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USTAD DILDAR HUSSAIN KHAN & ABRAR HUSSAIN SUR SANGEET (Kanaga System Krush KSKCD015)

Thus far Kanaga System Krush has been a publisher, almost exclusively, of music from Mali. For their 15th release they move to Pakistan for a rousing set of traditional Sufi qawwali music. While Nusrat opened our ears to this magical sound it has a centuries-old tradition and is still a vital and growing part of Sufi devotional rituals. In fact, Dildar Hussain was tabla accompanist for Nusrat for over three decades, and has now formed his own Qawwali party with three of his sons. There is a second tabla player, Israr Hussain, in addition to harmonium and handclaps accompanying the singers. The lead singer is Abrar Hussain but the tabla playing is equally to the fore as there is an amazing bass thrum going on thanks to the older "Jori style" of drum which the father plays. Son Israr also gets to solo on tablas on half the tracks. Most of the songs are traditional poems or scripture but some new lyrics have been added; "Ali Moula" who married the daughter of the prophet, was called the Lion of God, so singing his praise invokes strength. Other new material is created when it is composed for a movie soundtrack and becomes a hit (Dildar backed Nusrat on several successful soundtracks, including "Last Temptation of Christ," "Dead Man Walking" and "Bandit Queen."). Now that there is cinematic d├ętente between India and Pakistan, some Bollywood films with hit soundtracks, which have been known in Pakistan for decades are actually getting shown on the big screen for the first time. Dildar Khan comes from a musical family and by 15 had started accompanying the young Nusrat who was already making an impression. He was able to study with Ravi Shankhar's famous accompanist, Alla Rakha, another of the Khan family. Thus he added Indian classic riffs to his Punjabi style. The groove is rock-solid, the singing spiritually uplifting.