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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

Razia Aziz

By Bruce Miller
Published June 6, 2008

Between Heaven And Earth: Songs Of Love And Devotion From India and Pakistan
ARC Music

On her latest effort, London-born vocalist and pianist Aziz backs away from the Hindustani music that has intrigued her for the last decade or so in order to devote her voice to the sufi ghazals and qalams she loved as a child. Teaming up with vocalist, composer and mentor Ustad Fida Hussain Khan—who has not only been writing music for 60 years, but is the undisputed master of the harmonium in the U.K.—Aziz moves deep into musical tradition and emerges with a disc of music so blissful that it seems to transcend the very medium used to produce it. Buoyed by sitar and tabla, the music literally floats as Aziz sings of a love so strong it can make the song’s protagonist dance uncontrollably or break down in painful, tear-filled mourning. The poetry of sufi masters such as Ahmed Faraz, Qateel Shifai and Mirza Ghalib finds new life atop Khan’s compositions and Aziz’s gorgeous readings. The title of the album may be Between Heaven And Earth, but the music here undoubtedly hovers closer to heaven.