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World Music CD Reviews South Asia

AMJAD ALI KHAN

By Derek Beres
Published September 22, 2005

Moksha
Real World

Hindu philosophy teaches the cyclic (not linear) nature of time (samsara), and that there is a way to be liberated from it. Most popular in Western vocabulary is nirvana, a global hat tip to Buddha. One must remember Siddhartha was Indian, and there that freedom is moksha. Hence sarod (a wooden instrument with 25 strings producing both rhythm and a droning sound) master Amjad Ali Khan names his latest, implying the acoustic liberation one achieves through music. As with most Indian classical artists, music is religion to Ali Khan; thus his recorded works serve as living scriptures. Particularly particular, this elder sarodist goes to great lengths to ensure the cultural continuity of each song. He does, however, cut the ragas down to one-third of their original length, believing the repetition of traditional repertoire to be overkill. So when the tablas kick in on the seven-minute “Vignaraja,” gorgeously underlying his plectra-picking mastery, the only thing at the end is the word “more.”