India is a country of a great variety of cultures both in traditional customs and in music. There are two major systems in Indian classical music: North Indian classical music (Hindustani Sangeet) and South Indian classical music (Carnatic Sangeet). There have been many families dedicated to Indian classical music for many generations. The Sabri family is one of the few families who have served North classical music for the last eight generations.
The Sabri family come from important gharana (school of music), the Moradabad Gharana. This gharana brought forth many great musicians and vocalists such as Ustad Chhajju Khan, Ustad Nazeer Khan, Ustad Aman Khan, Ustad Ahmed Jan Thirakwa Khan, Ustad Maseet Khan, Ustad Keramtaullah Khan and Ustad Sabri Khan....
The Sabri Family are known for their virtuosity in playing a very important and difficult musical instrument, the sarangi. Ustad Sabri Khan has played a major role in introducing the sarangi to the world through his successful world tours accompanied on table by his eldest son Sarvar Sabri. He introduced the world’s first sarangi suo with his son Kamal, the world’s first live ‘three generations of sarangi playing’ (Ustadji, Kamal and Suhail) and the world’s first sarangi ensemble, consisting of five sarangis. His achievements have been highly praised by the listening public as well as critics, musicians and scholars around the world.
This is the first actual recording of “The Sabri Family” with three generations of sarangi players plus table from one family, all coming together to create a soulful musical experience for their listeners.
Ustad Sabri Khan
The sarangi maestro Ustad Sabri Khan counts among the most renowned musicians in India. He is descended from lines of distinguished musicians on both sides of his family. By virtue of belonging to the Sainia Gharana, he can trace hs musical tradition back to Mian Tansen, the great vocalist at the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar.
Ustadji was initiated into sarangi playing by his grandfather, Ustad haji Mohammad Khan and later continued his training under his father Ustad Chaju Khan, both accomplished sarangi maestros of their time. In addition to this rigorous training he learned some important and rare techniques for playing this ancient and difficult instrument from his uncle Usatd Laddan Khan of Rampur. Ustadji has toured extensively, sharing his age-old art with audience across the world, winning respect, admiration and accolades wherever he performed. The credit for introducing the sarangi to American and European audiences goes to him. He has played a duet with violin maestro Yehudi Menuhin and was invited to the University of Washington, Seattle, as a visiting professor.
In appreciation of his contribution to the classical music of India, Ustadji has received numerous honours and awards including the prestigious Padma Shree Award. Also, the president of India conferred the Padmabhushan Award (one of the highest civilian awards in India) on him.
Sarvar Sabri, an internationally renowned table player, is the eldest son of Ustad Sabri Khan. He is a composer and a leading classical dance accompanist. He has worked with many kathak dancers in Britain from the stars of the traditional genre such as Pratap Pawar, to younger, contemporary dancers, including Akram Khan. Since settling in the UK in 1989, Sabri has been in great demand to perform as a soloist, accompanist to Indian classical dance, instrumental and vocal music as well as a fusion musician, pioneering Indo Jazz. Sarvar earned a degree in commerce and one in music from universities in India.
By the late 1970s, Sarvar had begun to travel throughout India accompanying his father on tours. His talent was obvious and he was soon asked to perform in his own right. Several world tours followed, where he provided musical accompaniment to leading kathak dancers, including Pandit Durga Lal and Rajendra Gangani. He toured Europe and North America in 1982 with a group of classical musicians and visited England for the first time later that year. He established connections with UK South Asia classical dance and music circuits which led to numerous opportunities as a classical dance accompanist.
If the tradition of Sarangi playing has to continue it has to be passed on the next generation. Ustad Sabri Khan’s son Kamal is carrying on this legacy of the Sainia Gharana with devotion and determination. Kamal has made his mark on the international musical forum and has participated in several international festivals including the “Art of the Bow” Festival in Geneva, Switzerland in November 2001; the World Music Festival in Lahore, Pakistan; BBC and millennium concerts at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham, UK. While honing his skills in the traditional style of music, he also adapted to a changing musical skills at the BBC, at Radio Pakistan, Switzerland, Italy, Barbados and the Finnish Broadcasting Company. He has worked with veterans such as Ustad Zakir Hussain, Ustad fateh Ali Khan, Hossam Ramzy, Ricky Niles from Barbados and Jukka Tolonen and performed with Jan Garbarek before the king of Norway. Kamal has recorded his genre of music for famous bands like Massive Attack, One Giant Leap as well as Hollywood films. He is also a composer and wrote scores for documentary films, theatre and dance. Kamal continues to explore the vast realm of the music world yet retaining the purity of Indian Classical music.
Suhail Yusuf Khan
Suhail Yusuf Khan, a devoted sarangi player has been hailed as a “child Prodigy”. He is the grandson of the sarangi legend Ustad Sabri Khan and the nephew of the young sarangi genius Ustad Kamal Sabri. Suhail represents the eighth generation of sarangi players carrying forward his family’s tradition. Apart from pure Indian classical music Suhail is also involved in compasing jingles an backgrounds scores for documentaries. He has composed music for the famous children’s programme “The Small World” on DD Bharti (Indian TV). He has just released a ‘lounge’album with Tatva Kundalini (produced by Nupur Audio). He has toured extensively throughout India and abroad to perform at various festivals and concerts, visiting countries like France, England, Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Nepal etc. in 2003 Suhail was the youngest musicians to represent India at the world famous Milapfest (Britain’s premier South Asian Arts Festival) held on Manchester. He has worked with great personalities such as Shubha Mudgal and Talvin Singh, famous British DJ and innovative table player. He also had the opportunity to play with the great guitar player Steve Vai and has had the privilege of accompanying the world-renowned classical singer, Shrimati Girja Devi.
Five beautiful ragas presented by the famous, award-winning Sabri Family - three generations of Sarangi maestros: Ustad Sabri Khan (Sarangi), Kamal Sabri (Sarangi), Suhail Yusuf Khan (Sarangi), Sarvar Sabri (Tabla).
1. Raag Megh
Ustad Sabri Khan (Sarangi), Kamal Sabri (Sarangi), Suhail Yusuf Khan (Sarangi), Sarvar Sabri (Tabla)
This is a seasonal raga, sung or played during monsoon time. It is played in the evening. Raag Megh has a romantic mood and welcomes the rain with joy.
2. Raag Mian Ki Malhar
Kamal Sabri (Sarangi), Suhail Yusuf Khan (Sarangi), Sarvar Sabri (Tabla)
This raga was composed by the great vocalist Mian Tansen. It is an evening raga and also a seasonal raga, to be sung and played during monsoon season.
3. Tabla Solo – Shikhar Taal (17 beats)
Sarvar Sabri (Tabla), Kamal Sabri (Sarangi – Raga Vrindavani Sarang)
An unusual time cycle.
4. Raag Adana
Kamal Sabri (Sarangi), Suhail Yusuf Khan (Sarangi), Sarvar Sabri (Tabla)
Raag Adana is a night raga. Kamal and Suhail play a very old composition in this raga.
5. Raag Pancham
Ustad Sabri Khan (Sarangi), Sarvar Sabri (Tabla)
A rarely heard raga played or sung in the morning.