In the ambit of Indian vocal music, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1902-1968) is universally recognized as an artists who has restored verve and vigour to the singing tradition of North India and who many years after his death continues to be cited as a key reference point. Raised in the Patiala gharana (“school”) his singing was in many ways a culmination of this style, characterised by a search for purity the articulation of each note and by atmospheres that swayed towards the romantic and sentimental. A natural crowd pleaser, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, managed to give a popular twist to his improvisations and emotionally charge the ragas he interpreted, without renouncing the canons of classicism. His vocal abilities have become the stuff of legend, such as the astounding three octave vocal range over which he was able to stretch his embellishments.
This CD presents two highly interesting ragas both dedicated to Krishna. In the first, Raga Behag, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan performs in the khayal style, a semi-classical genre considered less formal and elaborate than the dhrupad (the sacred classical genre par excellence). In the second, the whole range of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan’s interpretative powers are displayed in the thumri genre which is just as accessible as the khayal, and equally adept in focusing on the passing feeling of the moment, the sentiment that issues from the act of improving and embellishing on traditional forms. On closer listening these two ragas show how Bade Ghulam Ali Khan’s mastery resides above all in the way he downplays the technical and virtuoso aspects of singing in the attempt to wring from the material a more pure and genuine emotional expression. Considering that the thumri is a genre based on lyrics looking at romantic love from a female perspective, it’s curious how well Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (despite his imposing physique and bushy moustache aside) managed over the course of his career to render to perfection the thoughts and feelings of besotted young women.
The spontaneity with which he tackles these two ragas, accompanied by the second voice of his son Munawar Ali Khan, is testament to a purity and intensity of which only the greatest innovators are capable.
BADE GHULAM ALI Khan - vocal from Felmay Shop
1. Raga Behag - Khayal - Vilambit in Ektaal - 28.16 2. Mishra Behag - Thumri - Tri Taal - 15.29
Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan vocal Munawar Ali Khan seconda vocal Mohammad Ahmed Baney sarangi Late Ghulam AHmed tabla Nizammuddin Khan tabla