Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Giving us Hope: Ustad Umeed Ali Khan

Ustad Umeed Ali Khan

Umeed Ali Khan was a giant of Hindustani classical music and I introduce him with a heart-felt tribute from one of his relations.

Ustad Umeed Ali Khan 1910-79 is one of the best musicians Punjab has ever produced. Born in the area of Amritsar, young Umeed Ali Khan was groomed by his late father Ustad Pyare Khan who was a court musician of Bhuman Shah, a Sikh maharaja. Ustad Umeed Ali Khan’s ancestors can be traced back to Ustad Baba Bannay Khan saab who was a student of Ustad Haddu & Hassu Khan (Gwalior gharana) who spread khyal singing in Punjab and also pioneered the Punjabi khyal bandish.

Umeed Ali Khan was a typical Punjabi who used to wrestle in his happy days. In those time musicians were expected to do these kind of exercises to maintain themselves, topping them with rich diet and hours of hours of practice. There was a time when he had a duel with Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, where Ustad Abdul Waheed Khan (Kirana gharana) was there as a judge. He sang the raag Saazgiri and afterwards Ustad Abdul Waheed Khan voted young Umeed as the best performance by saying that "Woh larka maar gaya baazi," (That boy killed that one!) Young Umeed was very happy with this comment, coming as it did from a grand legend.

He is also notorious for the duel with Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan (the teacher of Malika-e-Ghazal Farida Khanum, Malika Zahida Praveen and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan) singing Lalit and Sham Kalyan. Khan Saab went to India on a few occasions where he met my dada (grandfather) Ustad Amir Khan and became best brother-like friends for ever. Khan Saab travelled to the UK where he has 2 disciples: the late Roshan Masih and Naeem Salaria (the teacher of Najma Akhtar). According to Naeem saabKhansaab’s favourite singer was Lata Mangeshkar and liked singing filmi songs of hers. You don’t see or hear many classical artists who sing filmi songs. Out of all raags that he rendered, Khan saab’s favourite was Kafi Kanada and is the first person who popularized this very raag with the Punjabi bandish "ley jaande nahi je naal". Just to name a few of Khan saab ‘s famous students in Pakistan: Fateh Ali Khan Hyderbadi, and Hamid Ali khan who are his nephews who reside in Karachi.

At the age of mid 60 Khan saab’s hearing was gone and he came to the UK for treatment but did not suceed according to Naeem Salaria who stayed at his residence for a year and took care of his needs. Sadly in 1979 he passed away at the age of 69. May Khan saab soul rest in eternal peace in God’s realm.

On this recording we have three fantastic renditions in Punjabi ang by the Ustad, including his favorite raga Kafi Kannada. All of them give the spirit the Hope for which Khansaab was named (umeed). The drut on the third selection is simply jaw droppingly good and worth the ticket at the door.






            Track Listing:
            01 Kafi Kannada [Lay Janda Nain Jay Naal]
            02 Emen [Kaise Kaise Ka
            03 Wohi Rang Ranaya


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would like to share this piece about Ustad Umeed Ali Khan on a FB page I run called "What The Raags Told Me". May I?

ajnabi said...

Sure

Anonymous said...

I do not find a link to download this. Please provide a link

Thanks & Regards,
Subhasis

Nathan Rabe said...

Subashis,
done! Enjoy.