Monday, April 12, 2010

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (voice, b.1948 - d.1997)

Everyone has their all time favorite musician or band. For me it's John Lennon, Thelonious Monk, Bob Marley and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Nusrat as you will hear and see, has one of the most distinctive voices in all of music.

He is revered by musicians from all genres as well as an inspiration to all his fans. The music which he performs is known as quwwali. Quwwali originated in Northern Pakistan over 500 years ago. It is consideration an ancient Sufi spiritual music that many listeners believe could transport them to a higher state of mind during the experience. While there are many South Asian performers who still perform Quwwali, its popularity in the Western world has been mainly due to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

While he has over 150 recordings--many of which are bootleg live recordings of extremely high sound quality--a number of studio recordings were released by Peter Gabriel's Real World label during the nineties. These recordings while great were sometimes washed out by slight overproduction, they are still worth buying or downloading as they are easier to digest for new listeners. I would recommend either Mustt Mustt or Devotional and Love Songs, both on the Real World label. Of the more traditional albums I would recommend downloading either The Final Studio Recordings (American Recordings) or The Best Of Khan (Oriental Star).

For jazz and reggae fans Nusrat can be an easy transition if you have listened to Bitches Brew or Agharta by Miles Davis, OM or Love Supreme by John Coltrane, and Exodus by Bob Marley. The same spiritual nature that these albums exude can be heard and felt in Nusrat's music. It's an acquired taste for sure but if you are willing to take the time and open your world fully you will find out why so many people, myself included find Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to be one of the most import voices of all time.

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