The Qobuz Ideal Discography
On November 6th, 1985 the aptly-named Pakistani singer, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (which translates to “the king of the opening/path towards success”), took place in the studio 103 of the Maison de la Radio in Paris with his nine musicians (harmonium, tablas, choir) led by brother Farrukh. They had come to record four mystical chants in front of an audience for Radio France’s label, Ocora, which managed to release these recordings on cassette tapes for the first concert just two days later at the Théâtre de la Ville.
For Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, 1985 was a decisive year, as his immense talent exploded onto the European scene. The previous summer, he had, upon Peter Gabriel’s invitation, made headlines during the Womad Festival. France had already welcomed him four years earlier for the low-key Festival des arts traditionnels in Rennes, but this time, thanks to the rumours of his triumph in England and laudatory articles following a concert given just a few days before in Lille, he was awaited like a messiah.
The Pakistani realised the full potential of singing in Qawwali, an art he started practicing from a very young age in his family ensemble, which he later conducted to turn it into the most esteemed formation in Pakistan. The recording started, as always in Qawwali, with a praise to God. In the poem Hamd, the declamation sung with great passion is punctuated by chorists repeating the verse “Ya Hayou-Ya Qayyoum” (O Living! O Unchanging!) throughout the half an hour required for its unfolding. It is followed by Naat, a praise to the prophet that provides a taste of the singer’s staggering surges. Another praise of the same duration (16 minutes), Manaqib Ali, is addressed to the son-in-law of the prophet Ali, considered to be the first Sufi and Qawwals’ most esteemed saint. It’s an emotional moment that starts slowly with a nostalgic melody and, little by little, follows a rising and flaming path, to finish with a voluptuous and tender landing. The last chant is also a praise, Manaqib Khawaja Mueenuddin Chishti, addressed to Mueenuddin, Master of Masters, the most important Sufi saint in this branch of Islam that expresses divine love through music, dance and poetry. This historic recording, attesting of the rise of one of the leading figures in Asian music, constitutes a strong foundation to discover and enjoy – regardless of the listener’s beliefs − the incredible strength that has driven his career. © Benjamin MiNiMuM / Qobuz