Darbari Jazz Composed and arranged by Nafees Ahmad Engraved by Lee Redfield
Raga Darbari is a raga in the Kanada family, which is thought to have originated in Karnatik music and brought into North Indian music by Tansen, the legendary 16th-century composer in emperor Akbar’s court. This tradition is reflected in the name itself; Darbar is the Persian derived word in Hindi meaning “court.” As the most familiar raga in the Kanada family, it may sometimes also be called Shuddha Kanada or pure Kanada. It belongs to the Asavari thaat (S R g M P d n S – R n S d n P M P g M R S).
This song is in a simple sixteen beat cycle but the melody begins with a series of five note groupings that displaces the time in a very sophisticated manner that leaves the listener questioning the meter. The melody is set to a syncopated ostinato that suggests a rhythmic and harmonic influence of jazz or funk. It is presented in a way that allows for musicians trained in other music traditions to incorporate their own styles of improvisation.
Hamsandhvich Composed by Russell Pinkston and Stephen Slawek arranged and engraved by Russell Pinkston
“Hamsandhvich is a jazz/rock/fusion response to a melody written by Dr. Stephen Slawek, based on the Hamsadhvani raga. The name is tongue-in- cheek, of course, but my intent in writing this piece was entirely serious. I wanted to compose something for the Sangat ensemble that combined elements of the Western and South Asian musical traditions, borrowed from both classical and popular genres, utilized both acoustic and electronic instruments, and applied some Western techniques (modulation, counterpoint, and harmonization) to the Hamsadhvani raga. Although I wanted to incorporate some aspects of contemporary jazz and rock (electric bass, synthesizer keyboard, and electric guitar), I stopped short of adding a drum set, wanting instead to feature the tabla as the primary percussion instrument. The Hamsadhvani raga utilizes a pentatonic scale – essentially a major scale without the 4th or 6th scale degrees, and I decided to emphasize this scale at the beginning of the composition, but to gradually introduce and then begin to emphasize the missing scale degrees as the piece progressed. The composition is in D and the original 5 pitches (D, E, F#, A, and C#) are always present, but during the first (vocal) solo, there is a brief change to a G major 7 chord, which also introduces B and completes a D Major scale. The subsequent solos by flute, guitar, and saxophone are primarily in the key of F# natural minor, which retains the original 5 pitches, but adds G# and B. The bass during this section is actually playing a slightly modified version of the original tune by Dr. Slawek, which works quite well as a “walking jazz bass” line. The last section of the piece returns to the pitches of the D Major scale, but with B in the bass – essentially B natural minor. During this section, the voices and cello (and eventually flute) are playing a unison melody that first hints at, and then gets progressively closer and closer to the original tune. Beneath this, the bass eventually moves to G, and then E, before a final return to D, which brings back the original melody and the D Major pentatonic scale of the Hamsadhvani raga.”
Hansadhvani Composed by Stephen Slawek Arranged by Stephen Slawek and Sangat
“The piece was first conceived as the opening movement for a longer piece of music that was to have been co-written with my friend and colleague, Professor Russell Pinkston. As the goal for the NAPA-BSOM joint ensemble evolved, it became apparent that a broader set of musical interactions was desirable, so the extended composition of four movements was reduced to one pseudo movement based in a South Indian raga, Hansadhvani (often transliterated as Hamsadhvani, meaning the swan’s sound), a raga that has been adopted in Hindustani music. It is regarded as a bright and auspicious sounding raga that is often used to begin concerts of Karnataka music. My idea was to have a lively composition at a rapid pace that would begin in a traditional Indo-Pakistani form, played by the ensemble in strict unison, and then gradually morph into something more Western sounding with the addition of harmony and other devices of Western compositional practices. With that in mind, I provided Professor Pinkston with the basic theme from my creation and suggested that he use it as a point of departure. His piece and my piece could be linked together in sequence or be used as book-ends for a concert to provide a sense of unity, with his piece evoking the theme from the beginning piece of the concert.
Hansadhvani is a relatively simple raga with a pentatonic scale (1 – 2 – 3 – 5 – 7, taking D as tonic here). My composition is set to the common sixteen-beat tala, tin-tala. The composition is structured in the standard sthayi – antara structure common in Hindustani musical genres. There are several departures that extend ideas of the central theme, often incorporating tihai-s (thrice repeated motifs) as cadential figures to return to the basic composition. As a bit of an afterthought, I concluded the composition in Hansadhvani by shifting to another common raga, Yaman, and added a fast sargam (notes sung in solfege) following a rhythmic pattern of 5-5-6. Most of this composition came to my mind while I was walking my Yellow Lab, Max, on the Great Hills golf course that is near my house. Max is a fast walker, and this composition sounds best when played at an exhilarating tempo!”
Karachi to Austin Composed by Arsalan Pervaiz Arranged by Arsalan Pervaiz and Sangat Engraved by Lee Redfield
Karachi to Austin is a musical journey about a raga based musician becoming a jazz musician. The song starts with a groovy tabla taal/beat intended to give listeners a sense of traveling. The first introduced melody was composed in Karachi before traveling to Austin. The melody has a taste of uncertainty and anticipation as something exciting is going to happen. When I traveled to Austin I developed my understanding of jazz harmony and I added chord changes as well as a western rhythm section to represent the transformation I experienced during my travels.
Malkauns Tarana Composed by Nafees Ahmad Arranged by Sangat Engraved by Lee Redfield
This is a traditional raga-based composition set in Raag Malkauns in Purbi language set to rhythmic mode of drut (fast) teentaal (sixteen beats cycle). It has solo sections where instrumentalists improvise within the Raga. The bandish is an old composition by Masters of raga-based music. Nafees’s expertise in rhythmic interplay and melodic variations provide a fresh and interesting take on this composition.
Hay sugandar gao phool basant pherun
Phulay van sej bhichaun
Chunay chunay kaliyan (I will pick petals and flowers for you and make a beautiful place for us)
Me and Mike Composed by Nafees Ahmad and Brian Pardo Arranged and engraved by Brian Pardo
Me and Mike is a jazz composition by Ustad Nafees Khan for his friend Mike Del Ferro, who is a jazz pianist in Amsterdam.
Musica Senza Confini Composed by Nafees Ahmad and Chris Ozley Arranged and engraved by Chris Ozley
Musica Senza Confini in Italian language means “music without borders”. It is broadly based in Kalyan Thaat (lydian mode in Western music terms) with changes in melodic mode, meter and tempo in between sections.
Moon of the 15th Composed by Ahsan Shabbir, Waqas Gulab, and Franklin Piland Arranged and engraved by Franklin Piland
Moon of the 15th has a mystical feel. The basic melody is composed by Muhammad Ahsan Shabbir and rhythmic structure by Muhammad Waqas, beautifully arranged with solos and harmonisation by Franklin Piland. The title describes the rhythm of the basic melody in 15, while the melody conveys a mystical feeling, hence the name “Moon of the 15th”.
Rageshri Mix Composed by Nafees Ahmad Arranged by Naffees Ahmad and Sangat Engraved by Lee Redfield
Raag Raageshri is a late evening raag with a sweet romantic mood. The mix happens between sections where our talented musicians take solos over the chords. The rhythmic structure is interesting. Although it is in 4/4 time signature, the composition sets the melody in syncopated and staggered entrances which introduce new complicated patterns that challenge the listener.
Sangat Composed by Arsalan Pervaiz and Franklin Piland Arranged and engraved by Franklin Piland
“Sangat” is a tribute to all the lives we have lost since the beginning. Not solely human life but all animals, trees and other creatures lost due to war, violence, injustice and the extreme behaviors of human beings. The true solution to our problems is rhythm, dance, melody and harmony – the sharing of our most basic and honest emotions. “Sangat” attempts to evoke the complexity of our history of loss through simple orchestration and straightforward melody. The piece is equally a lament for the lost, an expression of anger and disgust at violence and war, and a hope that we may learn from the mistakes of our past to forge a brighter, more beautiful future. This work is especially dedicated to those lives lost in the 2016 Paris terrorist attacks.
Tum Composed by Ahsan Shabbir Arranged by Sangat Engraved by Lee Redfield Tum is an Urdu-language love song set to a contemporary reggae composition.
Text: Tum jaano ya naa jaano (believe it or not) Tum maano ya naa maano (believe it or not) Sach hai yayhee jo keh diyaa (The truth is what I’ve said) Jeevan meraa tum bin saza (my life without you is incomplete) Kehnay ko hein baatein kaye (There is so much untold) Kaisay kahun tum hee nahin (How should I say, as you’ve left) Aa jaao naa, (Please come back) Ke dil tum bin lagta nahin (my heart looks for you)
Tum meet ho (You are my companion) Tum sangeet ho (You are music) Tum Jeet ho (You are victory) Dharkan ka geet ho (You are the Song of my heart) Yaadon mein tum (You are in my memories) Sapnon ki dhun (melody of my dreams)
Khamoshyan tanhaiyan (Silence, loneliness) Aa jao naa tum ho kahan (My eyes search you) Kehnay ko hein baatein kaye (There is so much untold) Kaise kahun tum hee nahin (How should I say, you’ve left) Aa jao naa (Please come back) Ke dil tum bin lagta nahin (My heart looks for you)