Vol. 5 Num 699 Thu. May 18, 2006  

Musical tribute to a living legend -- Shah Abdul Karim

THE 90-year old 'Baul' Shah Abdul Karim has written and composed about 1500 songs. Six books of his songs -- Aftab Sangeet, Gano Sangeet, Kalnir Dheu, Dholmela, Bhatir Chithi and Kalnir Kooley -- have been published. Bangla Academy has translated 10 of his songs in English and he has been honoured with the prestigious national award -- Ekushey Padok in 2001.

Shah Abdul Karim's songs such as Maya lagaisey, Ami koolhara kolonkini and Gari choley na have attained popularity among music fans of this generation. Quite a few contemporary artistes and musicians have shot to fame rendering Abdul Karim's songs -- often re-arranged or remixed. His songs, following the trend of Sufism, stand out for their extraordinary metaphors, message of secularism and depiction of divine love in simple words; a reason why his music has a mass appeal.

As a tribute to the living legend, Sound Machine has released an album titled Jibonto Kingbodonti: Baul Shah Abdul Karim. The mixed album features renditions of Abdul Karim's familiar songs by celebrated as well as emerging artistes -- Bangla, Momotaz, Dalchhut, Maqsud, Dilruba Khan, Shandipon, Ajob, Oojaan, The London Underground and others.

The opening song Agey ki shundor din kataitham, re-arranged and performed by Oojaan gives the album a lukewarm start. This well-known song, addressing the once thriving harmony among Muslims and Hindus in the rural areas, is not slow paced but Oojan's rendition lacks the exuberance manifested in Abdul Karim's songs.

The next song, Ami tomar kaul-er gari however, sweeps one away. The song, re-arranged by Bappa Mazumdar and rendered by Momotaz, follows the genre of Dehotatwa, a sect of Murshidee. Much has been said about Momotaz and her "questionable" songs that have fetched her mass popularity but her performance in this song should be enough to demonstrate that given opportunities, she can work wonders. Her not so stereotypically melodious, yet powerful voice questions the divine will in the song.

Pradeep Kumar and The London Underground deliver a very appealing and hum-able version of Kano piritee barailarey bondhu. Pradeep's skillful vocals epitomise the eternal yearning for the beloved. The fusion number aptly uses several sounds effects and alaap.

Bangla performs Shokhi kunjo shajao. Anusheh's inimitable style and flawless rendition is nothing new to the listeners; only one predicament -- the number sounds more like the songs Bangla usually performs and less like a Shah Abdul Karim song.

Manush hoye talaash korley, re-arranged and rendered by Ajob highlights spirituality. Ajob uses the serene style of Lalon songs, which makes the song interesting and easy to the ear.

Dilruba Khan renders Ailaye na. The tune of the song sounds somewhat similar to another number in the album -- Bashonto batashey, rendered by Shandipon. Dilruba's breathy vocals and emotive expressions make her version memorable.

The album has 12 tracks in total and can be a treat for music aficionados of all cults. Different artistes, groups and musicians add their unique touch to the collection. Kudos to Sound Machine for putting together a quality production. Proceeds from the sales of the album will go to Shah Abdul Karim, who is suffering from age-related ailments.

Cover jacket of the album