Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan,
Sufi Qawwalis
(ARC, 2002)

If you've heard Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948-1997) at all, it was probably on a film score. Although he recorded more than 80 albums, most of us remember him as the ethereal voice on the soundtrack of Dead Man Walking. He also contributed to Natural Born Killers and The Last Temptation of Christ.

This release of four Sufi qawwalis, was recorded live in London in 1989 with Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan (vocals, harmonium), Dildar Khan (tabla) and Asad Ali Khan, Ghulam Fareed, Rahmat Ali, Khalid Mehmood, and Ilyas Hussain (chorus). The extensive liner notes contain a biography of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a short explanation of qawwali and Sufi music, and descriptions of the four tracks.

Nusrat was famous in the Indian subcontinent as one of the greatest singers of qawwali, a form of Sufi devotional music. Sufism, a mystical form of Islam, is devoted to the love of God and the attainment of enlightenment through personal devotion. Music serves to bring both the performer and the listener closer to God, as it touches the heart.

The qawwali form, the liner notes tell us, was developed at the end of the 13th century by the poet and composer Hazrat Amir Khusrau. The first track on this disk, titled "Love Song," is one of Khusrau's compositions.

Two of the compositions are sung in old Hindi, one in Farsi (Persian) and one in Punjabi. The singing style is different from anything most westerners are familiar with, but if you listen with an open heart, you'll find it very moving.

- Rambles
written by Janice Snapp
published 22 November 2003

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