Friday 9 January 2009

A Gift to Ustad Allah Rakha - 75th Birthday



Alla Rakha Quereshi, born April 29, 1919, at Ratangarh, near Jammu in India, is one of the leading accompanists and tabla soloists of Hindustani music. He is also vocalist, harmonium player and composer. He rose to fame through his work as Ravi Shankar's accompanist in the 1960s and 1970s when Shankar's music was finding a new, international audience. Since record-keeping at the time of his birth tended to be hit-and-miss affairs -- often little more than a season or in proximity to a holy day -- his birth date is approximate, borne out by the fact that he celebrated his 75th birthday in Bombay on January 15, 1994.

Quereshi's musical interests were fueled by the traveling theatrical entertainments that would pass through the Jammu region, and eventually, he ran away from home to Lahore in present-day Pakistan. There he lived with his uncle and eventually took formal tuition; fortunately, his skills were recognized early on. Unusually, he studied under Mian Kadur Bukhsh for tabla and under Ashiq Ali Khan for voice. He went to work with All India Radio (AIR) at its Delhi location in 1936 with the famous broadcaster Z.A. Bokhari. He worked in other locations for AIR before leaving the company in 1943 for the movie industry where he composed and performed music to meet the insatiable demand for cinematic entertainment. In time he moved on to classical music. He was especially known for his work with two of the subcontinent's finest sitarists, having worked with both Vilayat Khan and Ravi Shankar. Alla Rakha went on to record extensively with Ravi Shankar. He also made a mark as a world class percussionist with his early East-West collaboration with American jazz drummer Buddy Rich on Rich à la Rakha (World Pacific WPS 21453) and the solo Tabla! (WPS 21458).

He remains one of the supreme percussionists of Northern Indian music and like his sons, Zakir
Hussain and Fazal Quereshi, he has given birth to a new style of tabla playing which has elevated the role of tabla player from the relatively lowly accompanist to soloist. Many listeners expect the flamboyance and panache of their cross-rhythms and compare other players' styles unfavorably to that of Alla Rakha and his sons. It is a relatively recent trend, fast becoming the norm. Exciting musically and visually arresting, it has been carbon dated to the 1960s and the emergence of a new wave of soloists bringing new levels of stagecraft to the concert podium. -- Ken Hunt, All Music Guide


A performance celebrating the approximate 75 years of the tabla master, joining father and sons in an unique display of immaculate rhythmic techinique. Allah Rakha would expire six years later and this was one of his last recordings.

1. Matt Taal: Ustad Allah Rakha solo
Sarangi Lahra Raag Khamaj
2. Rupak Taal: Zakir Husain & Fazal Quraishi
Sarangi Lahra Raag Saraswati
3. Sawari Taal: Zakir Husain solo
Sarangi Lahra Raag Chamapakali
4. Ek Taal: Ustad Allah Rakha & Zakir Husain
Sarangi Lahra Raag Maru Bihag
5. Teen Taal: Ustad Allah Rakha, Zakir Husain & Fazal Quraishi
Sarangi Lahra Raag Dhani

Sarangi accompainment by Ustad Sultan Khan

Recorded & released in 1994 by T-Series India

link@320

13 comments:

cheeba said...

Many thanks, Bravo! Love them tabla albums!

Anyone who wants to hear the Buddy Rich collab mentioned in the review can do so here:

http://soundological.blogspot.com/2008/08/buddy-rich-alla-rakha-rich-la-rakha.html

bravo juju said...

Now that should be a very interesting listen! Thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! I love the playing of Fazal Qureshi even moreso than his more famous older brother, Zakir Hussain. Fazal really has a groove going and can get real 'funky' on the tabla unlike Zakir who has a more 'stodgy' classical style. Check out the album called 'Friends Across Borders' with Sultan Khan, Jonas Hellborg and Fazal Qureshi to see what i mean.

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I love the playing of Fazal Qureshi even moreso than his more famous older brother, Zakir Hussain.

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