In the true cadence of the Etawah gharana, Khan plays a resounding Aliya Bilawal in which he lends an impressive depth of his own, exploring the sweetness of the raga as much as he exposes the underlying dignity of Bilawal. Khan has a non-chalant, sure-shot way of delivering the central phrases of Aliya Bilawal with tonal balance and absolute command over laykaari (rhythmic improvisation of melodic notes). Swapan Chaudhari (tabla) takes control of his plot with mastery and elegance.
Shujaat Khan hails from the illustrious Etawah (‘Imdadkhani’) gharana alongside greats such as Imdad Khan, Imrat Khan, and Shahid Parvez. His famous father Vilayat was a highly demanding teacher: “after strumming the strings of the sitar for several exhausting hours of overnight practice that would make my fingers bleed, he felt that I wasn’t good enough. When I performed, there was always the burden of matching the sky-high expectations”. Despite learning his father’s musical style in impressive depth, their personal bond became strained and he left home to establish a career of his own. It was far from easy but he eventually forged his own name, taking his family’s innovations in gayaki ang (singing style) even further by singing in unison with his instrument.
Swapan Chaudhari is a living legend of the tabla. Chaudhari’s extraordinary talent was recognized by his first guru Santosh Krishna Biswas and thereafter the great Ali Akbar Khan. By the age of ten he was accompanying the latter to the Ali Akbar Khan College of Music in California, helping with lesson demonstrations. But he did not turn to tabla full-time yet, completing an economics degree and almost pursuing further study at Harvard. But Hindustani music’s inescapable call beckoned, and he commenced a masters’ degree in it before launching into a stellar career, quickly turning the heads of senior artists and soon becoming the Ali Akbar Khan College of Music’s first director of percussion. He has accompanied several generations of top musicians in Indian classical music.
Shujaat Khan (sitar)
Swapan Chaudhuri (tabla)
Raag Aliya Bilawal