Alam Khan performs a deeply contemplative Bhimpalasi in this concert. Born in California, Khan learned music in the guru-shishya tradition, growing up around his father and guru, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan absorbing a lifestyle where ‘sewa’ (service) towards music is pivotal.
He begins his concert with unassuming poise, telling the audience that he is thankful for his father’s patience and guidance in shaping him up. “Whatever you will enjoy is because of him and whatever you don’t is because of me and I am working on it,” he puts across humbly before picking up his sarod.
Khan plays a soulful alaap pulling out the essence of Bhimpalasi with crystal-clear ornamentations laden with subtle microtonal nuances. He builds up the raga with a gentle pace doling out deep, resonant phrases. He wraps up the first part with a jod and jhala in his refined technique and his melodic finesse, particularly in the improvisations in the middle octave is extraordinary.
Khan’s sparkling ‘laykari’ highlights the 16-beat cycle composition in the medium and faster tempos. Young Anubrata Chatterjee brings his best to the recital in beauty and anticipation with a consistent tempo, heightening the interaction by reproducing Khan’s myriad phrases acutely on the tabla.
The performance ends with two pieces, a dhun in Mishra Piloo in Rupak taal followed by a gat in Raag Piloo. The latter is an age-old composition that has been handed down to Khan by his grandfather, Baba Alauddin Khan. It encompasses the ornamentations typical of a ‘rebab’, the Afghan predecessor of the sarod.
Projecting all the elements of ‘tantrakari’ (instrumental nuances) that are central to this composition, Alam gives an excellent performance of this gat. A sublime sawal-jawab between the sarod and tabla concludes this part.
In the end, Khan shares an anecdote about his father Ustad Ali Akbar Khan as a teacher. “I am like a well – it is up to the thirsty to come to me and draw as much water as they want: I shall never run out of it,”Alam quotes to explain how dedicated a teacher his father and guru was throughout his life. “While he could have simply made money and fame only by performing, he chose to station himself and teach music and carry forth the legacy of my grandfather, Baba Alauddin Khan,” says Alam Khan.
In our treasured repertory of Director’s Cut concerts, this recital is a delight that will inspire you as a true example of hard work, dedication and sewa through music as the medium.
Alam Khan (sarod)
Anubrata Chatterjee (tabla)
Debipriya Das (tanpura)
Raag Bhimpalasi, Thaat: Kafi, Samay: 12pm-3pm
Raag Mishra Piloo, Thaat: Kafi, Samay: 12pm-3pm