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     Volume 6 Issue 36 | September 14, 2007 |

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A Charitable Soiree

Hana Shams Ahmed
Photos: Arif Hafiz

Ornob performing at the concert.

On the evening of September 6 the Heritage restaurant wore a festive look. With a colourful shamiana on top and rows of smartly covered white table-tops the stage was all set for what promised to be a beautiful marriage of music between the not-so-likeliest of duos. It was about six months ago that the two met and since then there has been no looking back. And at the Heritage they proved that this collaboration was aesthetically heavenly to the ears.

The master of fusion Ornob's folk numbers with the addition of some western spice from the saxophone of Andrew Morris (of Bluenote fame) were the key ingredients that attracted many of Dhaka's who's who at the 'East meets West' show; But all the glamour did not take away from the cause that had brought them all together for the show music yes, but the funds raised from the ticket sales all went to the shelter home for survivors of various kinds of abuses to be built by BNWLA in Gazipur.

With this thought the capacity crowd at the Heritage welcomed the two along with Sahana, Elita and Armeen on back vocals, Buno (of Bangla fame) on bass, Jibon on drums, and Nazrul on the dhol. Sahana is of course Ornob's other half and the talent from 'Banglar opar' who has given to us with Ornob's help a one-of-its-kind, fusion Rabindra Sangeet album, which has been much appreciated by music lovers but has been received rather coldly by purists. Elita is the melodious lead vocalist of the band Raaga and Armeen is the lead vocalist of her band Armeen and the Grasshoppers.

Andrew Morris on the saxophone.

The show started off with 'Tui Gaan Ga' from Bangla's first album Kingkortobbobimur, which is where Ornob's career in music took off from. This happy-go-lucky song starts off with upbeat lyrics translated as “Sing to yourself all you can and make the air around you happy”. 'Hok Kolorob' came next to everyone's delight the cover song is from Ornob's second solo album that came as a turning point of sorts for the music industry. Ornob came down next with the timeless Bhatiali number 'Dorodi', a girl regretfully saying to her beloved, “if I had known your boat was broken, I would not have gotten onto it”, the boat here used as a metaphor for life. The fourth song was a mystery for the crowd. 'Amai Dhore Rakho' was a glimpse into Ornob's unreleased number. Next came the foot tapping number 'Bakshe Bakshe' from his second album. Another very popular classic folk song 'Nao Chairade' made its way into the repertoire next. Songs about boats and the sea seemed to have made an impression on this jazz and folk duo. Next came 'Tomar Jonno', again from Ornob's second album, followed by 'Mon Tore' from Bangla's first album. The last song before the break was 'Okale Brishti', a fun song about a sudden burst of rain on a summer's day and all the outlandish desires that were instilled into the writer as a result.

The group started off with 'Tor Jonno' from Ornob's second album after the break much to the delight of the by now well-fed audience at the Heritage. 'Marer Shagor', a patriotic number came next, after which Gourov, the vocalist of the band Ajob took to the stage. With a deep baritone and a passion for classic folk songs, Gourov is said to have travelled extensively through Bangladesh to learn about Lalon and his unique creations. With the khamokh (a traditional instrument) in hand Gourov sang 'Amar Chatokh Pakhi', a classic Lalon song. Ornob continued next with a famous classic number 'Eije Duniya' about God and the meaning of life. Coming back to his second album Ornob next sang 'Bhalobasha Tarpor', a beautiful love song, that might be a tad leaning away from his folk numbers, but a beautiful piece nevertheless.

A mesmerising number from Ornob singing, Andrew on the saxophone, Buno on bass and Elita, Sahana and Armeen on back vocals.

Suddenly there seemed to be an uncharacteristic buzzing noise going around. Before anyone could come out with the aerosol sprays it became obvious that the sound was coming from the voices of Sahana, Elita and Armeen introducing the song 'Mosha'. Ornob next sang a Rabindra sangeet 'Majhe Majhe' with a little twist of course with Andrew's saxophone and Ornob's fusion touches. The group declared the end of the show with 'Shay Je Boshe Achey', another very popular number from Ornob's second album but the crowd wanted more, so they got on again and played 'Hariye Giyechi', a song from Ornob's first album and written by Sahana. The show ended with another timeless classic 'Har Kala', a love song about Radha who is saying to Krishna, how she blackened her bones for his love.

The 'East meets West' show was sponsored by Warid Telecom and is one of the many efforts by Andrew Morris to raise funds for the BNWLA shelter home. Andrew first became interested in the organisation after reading about Madhabi Majhi in this magazine, a home worker who was pushed off by her employer off the rooftop of their apartment in Dhanmondi along with another home worker Moni Mala. All of the proceeds from his shows, including the ones with his band Bluenote are generously handed over to the building of this shelter home, which now is in a small shared building in Agargaon and houses victims of various forms of abuse. The Executive Director of BNWLA, Salma Ali is very appreciative of Andrew's endeavours. “Because of the everyday business it is very difficult for us to make time or have the opportunity to arrange such fund-raising events,” says Ali, “there are many well-off people in our society. If they came forward with their helping hands then it would make Andrew's work much easier.”

“The commitment and sympathy that Andrew has shown for the hostel is our biggest achievement,” says Ali, “if everyone who came to the show to enjoy the music was a little more aware about what the victims at the hostel are going through and feel the sense of responsibility they have we are very hopeful that they will be encouraged to come forward.”


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