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Reflection by Ustad Rashid Khan
( Sense; Rs. 295)

R ashid Khan's “Reflection” is a classic in more than one sense. He renders the unusual creation Jogkauns, considered a masterpiece of the 20th Century. John Ball, the sleeve notes writer of this album, traces it back to Jagannathbua Purohit Gunidas in the 1940s, and eminent musicologist Rajan P. Parrikar on the Rajan Parrikar Music Archive, narrates an interesting story about the origin of the raga, taking it back to the same source. “The raga was conceived in the late 1940s by Jagannathbuwa Purohit ‘Gunidas'. It made a splash on the concert platform in 1951, when Kumar Gandharva signed on as an active protagonist. Gunidas originally referred to his inspiration as simply ‘Kaunshi', but a subsequent discussion with B.R. Deodhar led him to re-baptise it ‘Jogkauns,' given its harmonious blend of Jog with the Kauns-anga. Gunidas' key insight was to base his melody in Malkauns but with a twist — he advanced shuddha nishad, and assigned a cameo to komal nishad. Modern rasikas will say that the melody is based in Chandrakauns, but recall that in those days what we now refer to as Chandrakauns was a novelty.” However, B. Subba Rao in his exhaustive and scholarly compilation “Raganidhi” says it is a combination of Jog and Malkauns, and curiously there is no mention of Jagannathbuwa.

This recording of a live concert from the Saptak festival in Ahmedabad opens with a deeply contemplative alaap, replete with the most subtle, but brief andolans. He dips into each note of this shadava-shadava raga, and launches into the vilambit khayal ‘Sugara Bara Paaya', as if it were an extension of his free-wheeling alaap. The meditative pauses, the gamaks and meends make for the exquisite landscape of Rashid Khan's Jogkauns.

Murad Ali on sarangi plumbs the depths of this relatively modern raga, yet so ancient in its temperament. It almost seems as if his notes bridge many time zones. Throughout the rendition, the tivra gandhar and tivra madhyama are present more as suggestions; their presence is tantalisingly brief — before you exclaim in delight, it lingers as a memory.

The cascading swara clusters heighten the mood of the raga. Mehmood Dhaulpuri on harmonium works wonders at this juncture. The three inspire each other, feeding off each other's imagination. The bandish in teental is beautiful in ‘Peera Parayi Nahin'. Gopal Krishna carves unique patterns with his paltas, but falters in one or two instances.

Rashid Khan — as musicologists and musicians have hailed him — remains one of the most outstanding musicians of our times. One cannot help remembering poet Da.Ra. Bendre's line ‘Aanu Taanada Tananana' — music is when you become the song itself. Rashid Khan becomes the raga.

DEEPA GANESH

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