Ustad Khan represents an unbroken lineage of 7 generations of sitar and surbahar players. His father is the legendary Ustad Imrat Khan, a surbahar maestro and his uncle is none other than Ustad Vilayat Khan. He performs a raga that is regarded as the king of all melodies in Indian classical music – Raag Darbari Kanada. He begins with a very interesting technique, tapping the sympathetic strings with his left hand’s fingers to produce the first few phrases of the raga. Ustad Khan believes in individuality and makes sure that he comes up with such surprises in almost every concert of his. He ends his recital with a mellow dhun in Raag Bhairavi, leaving behind a lingering taste of the mellifluous raga in the minds of the listeners.
Hussain exposes his brilliant mastery over the tabla with a seamless and compatible accompaniment, applying impromptu addendums at just the right moments throughout the recital.
History is important to the Sadler’s Wells theatre as much as it is to Darbar. CEO and Creative Director Alistair Spalding of the Sadler’s Wells reveals that every evening since the year 1683, the theatre has come alive with live performances at 7:30 pm. During present times, the theatre’s policies have gone one step ahead to make such performances available to the younger generation from all economic backgrounds by reaching out to schools. The theatre has almost always had sold-out performances since the past 300 years.
Ustad Khan hails from the illustrious Etawah (‘Imdadkhani’) gharana alongside greats such as Shahid Parvez, Vilayat Khan, and Imrat Khan (his father and main teacher). His ancestors gave shape to the modern sitar, customising the design and mastering gayaki ang (singing style). He grew up immersed into music, skipping school to practice and staying up all night to analyse concerts he had seen that evening. He credits his grandmother Inayat Khan with playing a pivotal role in his training too. He has since taken his sitar into jazz, flamenco, and Gregorian chant, and worked with greats such as Philip Glass, Evelyn Glennie, and John McLaughlin as well as continual classical touring. Younger listeners may have unwittingly heard him already - in 2009 he played sitar on Weezer’s Love is the Answer.
Hussain is one of Europe’s finest tabla players. First studying under his father, the vocalist Mumtaz Hussain, he went on learn from various gurus - Faiyaz Khan from the Delhi gharana, and Shaukat Hussain Khan and Allah Rakha from the Punjab gharana. He has developed an eclectic and versatile style, leading the fusion group Indus as well as accompanying touring classical artists. He is also active as a tabla teacher across the North of England.
Ustad Nishat Khan (sitar)
Shahbaz Hussain (tabla)
Emmanuel Masongsong (tanpura)
Raag Darbari Kanada