The Sufi side to Chand Tara
KARACHI: Passionate music can only create magic. And if the passion entails profound admiration for the philosophy of self-negation espoused by the subcontinent’s Sufis, an element of mystique enshrouds the magic. A newly-formed band called Chand Tara Orchestra performance thrilled music buffs at a concert titled ‘Building Bridges through Music’ organised by the US Consulate-General Karachi at the PACC auditorium on Monday.
The young and talented Natasha Ejaz was the first performer of the day. Her soothing voice has already earned her a decent fan-following in the city. Her first song ‘Today is the Place’ immediately endeared her to the audience as they cheered for her heartily. She kept commenting on the tiny mishaps that often take place during a gig but never lost her focus. Her first Urdu number of the evening, ‘Jahan’, which was about butterflies, was a special piece.
Natasha Ejaz told her fans that though she liked to write angry songs she was not averse to the idea of coming up with ‘happy’ tracks that made her sing ‘Love is a Bird’. Then came the philosophically inclined ‘The Right Way to Fall’ followed by a catchy Urdu number ‘Hum Bhaage’. When she completed her stint within the slotted 30 minutes young members of the audience felt she cold have stayed longer on stage.
However, the concert was taken to a totally different realm as soon as the Chand Tara Orchestra played their first note. Their version of ‘Alif Allah’ was quite different, in a creative way, from what the famous Sufi kalam has been presented as over the years. The vocalist of the band, Sherry Raza, has a powerful voice and uses it well. Still, it was the pulsating drum rolls, the cool bass riffs and the pitch-perfect guitar solos that shaped the overall feel of the track.The band raised the bar with Shah Husain’s ‘Sahib Teri Bandi’ made famous by the erstwhile Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It consolidated Chand Tara’s reputation in no time because their innovative touches to the old tune were wholeheartedly greeted by music lovers.
The band rounded off the show with Bulleh Shah’s verses set to music by the band. It was called ‘Haq Hoo’. Bass guitarist Babar Sheikh began the track by reading out the English translation of the kalaam. It was a fitting finale to the concert as Sherry hit the higher notes with great facility and the drummer Sikander Mufti, not to mention percussionist Rizwan and lead guitarist Omran Sheikh, matched the vocals note for note. The somewhat hallucinogenic effect of the composition entranced the audience.
Earlier a small group of journalists met with the visiting delegation of US artists from the New England Foundation for the Arts. Sarah Long Holland briefed the media about the initiative called Centre Stage, which was to do with bringing contemporary performing artists from abroad to the US. She also mentioned Pakistani artists’ recent visit to her country. Deirdre Valente spoke on the deep engagement beyond the performance aspect. Robert Richter mentioned the warmth and friendliness that he felt through such exchanges while Brian Jose touched on his experience of working with artists from different parts of the world.