Posts Tagged ‘Faiz Ali Faiz’

Songlines Essential 10: Sufi Albums

Posted on October 26th, 2016 in Features, Recent posts by .

Sufi music, like that of Turkey’s whirling dervishes, occurs all across the Islamic world. Simon Broughton chooses the standout recordings, going for the more traditional and spiritual examples

Al Kindi EnsembleAl Kindi Ensemble
Aleppian Sufi Trance (Le Chant du Monde, 2003)
With singer Sheikh Habboush, the late Julien Weiss and his Al Kindi Ensemble pay a superb tribute to the amazing Sufi lodges of Aleppo. The Syrian city was a centre of Sufism from the 13th century and this two-CD digipack includes pictures and information about the different brotherhoods and lodges. Sadly they’re probably all gone now. Reviewed in #23.



Kudi Erguner EnsembleKudsi Erguner Ensemble
Ferahfeza Mevleví Ayíní (Imaj Muzik, 2001)
There are a lot of recordings of Mevlevi music, but this is one of the more historically informed. It features ney (reed flute) player Kudsi Erguner and his ensemble playing music for the sema ceremony commissioned by Sultan Mahmud II from composer Ismail Dede in 1839. There are excellent instrumentalists in the group.



Faiz Ali FaizFaiz Ali Faiz
L’Amour de Toi me Fait Danser (Accords Croisés, 2004)
Faiz Ali Faiz is probably the leading figure in qawwali music today, the most famous Sufi style in Pakistan and India. The music with solo voices and backing singers driven by tabla drums, breaks over you in waves. This well-produced album, with pictures and texts, takes its title from Punjabi poet Bulleh Shah. Reviewed in #27.



Nusrat Fateh Ali KhanNusrat Fateh Ali Khan
King of Sufi Qawwali (Manteca/Union Square, 2006)
There are countless recordings of Nusrat, who died in 1997, from superb concert performances on Ocora and Navras to fusion successes like Mustt Mustt on Real World. This double CD, compiled by Songlines contributor Jameela Siddiqi, includes his most representative repertoire opening with ‘Allah Hoo’ and concluding with ‘Dam Mast Qalander’ as his concerts often did. Reviewed in #40.



Ali Akbar MoradiAli Akbar Moradi
Mystical Odes and Secular Music (Inédit, 2001)
Unlike qawwali, the sacred tanbur music of Kurdistan is little known. The tanbur is a long-necked lute and is considered sacred among the devotees. Moradi is the living master of the tradition and accompanied on daf and tombak (drums) he plays and sings exquisite mystical songs. A gem of a disc.





Abida ParveenAbida Parveen
Ishq (Accords Croisés, 2005)
Abida Parveen, from Pakistan, is a living superstar of Sufi music and a rare woman performer in the Sufi world. She sings solo kafi songs, rather than qawwali. She’s always best seen live and untamed, but as that is a rare opportunity this well-produced disc with Bijan Chemirani on daf (drum) and Henri Tournier on bansuri (flute) is the next best thing. Reviewed in #31.



Sheikh Yasin Al-TuhamiSheikh Yasin Al-Tuhami
The Magic of the Sufi Inshad (Long Distance, 1998)
Given how widespread Sufi music is in Egypt – particularly at moulid (saints day) festivals – it’s surprising there are so few internationally available recordings. This features Egypt’s most celebrated inshad (Sufi singer) in two incredibly intense performances on two CDs. Sheikh Yasin AlTuhami is accompanied here by fiddle, ney (flute), oud, qanun and percussion.



Gnawa Home SongsVarious Artists
Gnawa Home Songs (Accords Croisés, 2006)
There are many Sufi brotherhoods in Morocco, each with their own music – the Aissawa with long trumpets and drums are the most spectacular. But the most celebrated are the Gnawa, and these recordings of some of the great masters are superb. A high-quality disc with deep gimbri (three-stringed bass) playing and soulful songs. Reviewed in #45.



SufiSongsVarious Artists
Sufi Soul (Network Medien, 1997)
This is the best available compilation of Sufi music from across the Islamic world. In a two-disc digipack, Sufi Soul includes 21 selections from Senegal to Afghanistan covering all the main genres and more. There are standout tracks from Kurdish singer Ostad Elahi as well as Mevlevi music, the Sabri Brothers and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.



Troubadours of AllahVarious Artists
Troubadours of Allah (Wergo, 1999)
This splendidly titled double album, compiled by Peter Pannke, features the incredible diversity of Sufi music in Pakistan. There are a couple of qawwali tracks, but mostly it’s solo singers and groups of fakirs playing the music you hear at shrines across the country. There’s a superb booklet with information and pictures too.

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Faiz Ali Faiz: A Beginner’s Guide

Posted on December 8th, 2015 in Features, Recent posts by .

faiz ali faiz

The leading voice in Sufi devotional music, known as qawwali, is breaking new ground with his various live collaborations and projects. Simon Broughton reports

Faiz Ali Faiz sings like a force of nature. He launches his powerful vocals heavenwards with a wave of his hands or throwing his arms aloft. Qawwali, the form of Islamic music he sings, has a 700-year history and it’s become the most popular style of Sufi music because of its unstoppable melodic and rhythmic force. Alongside the lead vocal, qawwali groups have two or three more vocalists whose voices thrillingly overlap and intertwine. The ecstatic vocal melodies are backed by harmonium, clapping and drums.

Faiz is one of the masters of the form. He’s a regular singer at the shrine of Data Ganj Bakhsh in Lahore and at festivals around the world. But he’s also been involved in some of the most interesting qawwali fusions with flamenco and gospel music.

Born in Lahore in 1962, Faiz is the ninth generation of qawwali musicians in his family. He learned first from his father and then Abdul Rahim Faridi became his qawwali teacher and Ghulam Shabir Khan and Ghulam Jafar Khan were his gurus for Indian classical music. He formed his own qawwali group in 1978. Faiz sings in Punjabi, Urdu and Persian, the language of Amir Khusrau (1253-1325), the creator of qawwali. He’s performed at the Nizamuddin shrine in Delhi, where Khusrau is buried and also in Hindu temples in Indian Punjab.

There’s one name that dominates the qawwali music scene, of course, and that is the late, great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948-1997). Faiz first saw him in 1983 at a shrine near Nusrat’s home town of Faisalabad, where they were both invited to perform. Although Faiz had his own teachers, it was Nusrat who lit his fire: “My initial influence was from Nusrat,” says Faiz. “His singing empowered me and I sing under his inspiration. I try to follow the traditional Punjabi style of qawwali, which is the Nusrat style.”

Faiz’s first international trip was to South Africa in 1992 where he stayed six months and sang at several of the country’s Sufi shrines. Since teaming up with the French record company Accords Croisés in 1999 he’s made several recordings and toured extensively. He recorded for the Bollywood film Kartoos (Cartridge) in 1999, where his voice was used alongside that of Nusrat. But, unlike Nusrat in this respect, he prefers to stick to the traditional qawwali form.

Though, this hasn’t stopped him taking part in some exhilarating fusions and collaborations, notably the Qawwali Flamenco project, which premiered in Barcelona in 2003. Faiz’s qawwali party joined singers Miguel Poveda and Duquende and guitarist Chicuelo in a spectacular juxtaposition and combination of the two forms. “It was difficult at first,” admits Faiz, “but I like to be challenged. The flamenco singing style sounds similar to Rajasthani music and there are lots of similar rhythmic patterns. And Chicuelo, particularly, got our music.”

A couple of years later he embarked on a different collaboration, Qawwali Gospel, with New Orleans-based Craig Adams with the Voices of New Orleans. Here the musical styles were very different, but the aim of the songs was identical – to praise the Lord. As Derek Beres wrote in The Huffington Post after their Brooklyn performance: “In meaning, they could not be more similar: devotional music in homage to the divine. And in this Allah and Jesus meet and dance.”

In 2009, there came yet another collaboration, this time with the maverick French guitarist and lover of Gypsy music, Titi Robin. They’d first met in 2006 and both been struck by each other’s music and this time it was a meeting of musicians rather than genres. The result was Jaadu: Magic featuring compositions by Robin and arrangements of qawwali pieces. A sublime example showing that while Faiz Ali Faiz, as one of the greatest living qawwali musicians, stays true to the tradition, he can also take the music into new realms.


new-qawwaki-voiceThe New Qawwali Voice

(World Village, 2002)

Faiz’s very impressive debut disc. He doesn’t try to show off a little bit of everything, but sticks to a traditional sequence of four songs, some nearly 20 minutes long that really convey the powerful ebb and flow of qawwali. And he’s not afraid to do the Nusrat staple ‘Allah Hoo’. 


your-love-makes-me-danceYour Love Makes Me Dance

(Accords Croisés, 2004)

The album takes its title from a famous lyric by the Punjabi Sufi poet Bulleh Shah, which is one of the five songs included in this ‘homage to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.’ He ends with a variant of Nusrat’s favourite closing piece ‘Mast Qalandar’. A live concert recording from Lille.



Qawwali Flamenco

(Accords Croisés, 2006)

This is a pretty impressive package of two CDs plus a DVD of the performance at the Fes Festival of Sacred Music. Alongside Faiz’s group it features Duquende, Miguel Poveda and Chicuelo. They perform several numbers separately, but four are performed together. 


Jaadu-MagicJaadu: Magic

(Accords Croisés, 2009)

A unique disc on which Titi Robin (on guitar and buzuq) creates new compositions and makes memorable arrangements for a small instrumental group and the qawwali party. A Top of the World review in #65.

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Now listen to this… Junun, The Gloaming and Tigran Hamasyan

Posted on November 23rd, 2015 in Features, Recent posts by .

Songlines Playlist

Here at Songlines HQ we’re always on the lookout for the most exciting music from around the world. Check out our playlist of the latest tracks that we’ve been listening to.


The Gloaming – ‘The Sailor’s Bonnet’
A live performance of ‘The Sailor’s Bonnet’ by The Gloaming from their 2013 debut album – in eager anticipation of their new album due out in February.


Shye Ben Tzur & Jonny Greenwood – ‘Dil Ki Bahar’
Qawwali singer Shye Ben Tzur first teamed up with Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood for the 2014 Alchemy Festival at London’s Southbank. It was an incredible show and this partnership is what inspired the excellent album with The Rajasthan Express, Junun.


Tigran Hamasyan – ‘Entertain Me’
Tigran’s stunning recording with the Yerevan State Chamber Choir on Luys i Luso, which rightly deserves its place on our Best Albums of 2015 list, caused me to revisit Mockroot from earlier in the year.


Tiken Jah Fakoly feat Ken Boothe – ‘Is it Because I’m Black’
‘Is it Because I’m Black?’ is the first track on Tiken Jah Fakoly’s newest album Racines, released in September. The song features Jamaican vocalist Ken Boothe, who originally sang it on his own album in 1974.


Sain Zahoor and Faiz Ali Faiz
These two performances were held at the Barbican in September. Captivating music by two great artists.

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Celtic Connections 2012

Posted on January 20th, 2012 in Recent posts by .

Scotland’s annual folk, roots, indie and world music festival kicked off in Glasgow yesterday. Over 2,100 musicians are visiting 20 venues across the city for the 300 concerts, ceilidhs, art exhibitions, workshops and free events. As well as a traditional music revival, there’ll be the Senegalese supergroup Orchestra Baobab, Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Toure, Fado star Ana Moura and Faiz Ali Faiz from Pakistan.

The workshop programme means that festival-goers can have a go at almost any instrument they like, whether it’s the accordion, fiddle, ukulele, djembe or Irish pipes. You can even take your baby along to a Gaelic lullaby workshop if you like. If you’re a bit more advanced and would like to explore arrangement ideas and techniques that form traditional music, there’ll be a Traditional Strings Weekend Masterclass at the Fiddle Village, starting Jan 28.

The festival lasts until February 5 and will host some of our favourite artists. Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops will show off their recently expanded African-American string-band at the O2 ABC Glasgow tonight, and will be joined onstage by the Punch Brothers.

To get some kora action, head down to St Andrew’s in the Square on 26 Jan, where Senegalese griot singer and kora player Solo Cissokho will reunite with young Irish fiddle trio Fidel. Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara will also team up with the Michael McGoldrick Quartet to forge yet even more links between African and Celtic music for this event.

To kick off February, Isla St Clair has been added to the line-up for The Singing Land at the Old Fruitmarket on the 1st. She’s won several awards during her career, as well as being voted Best Female Folk Singer by the NME. Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Toure will be supported by Bwani Junction at The Arches on Feburary 5, who’ll be using a bit of reggae, Afro-beat and indie-pop in their music as usual. On the same night, Floating Palace will be at O2 ABC Glasgow, which will bring together KT Tunstall, Martin and Eliza Carthy and Howe Gelb for a musical collaboration.

There’s so much to choose from! Let us know which acts you’re looking forward to.

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