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     Volume 6 Issue 43 | November 9, 2007 |

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Surviving on Music

Elita Karim

Sazed Ul Alam

Hardly 5 or 6 years of age, Sazed Ul Alam was awestruck by Ray Charles's music he heard on an LP that his father had brought back home from a foreign trip. "I would listen to it every single day and try to play it on my harmonium," he smiles. Clearly, Sazed was drawn towards music right from childhood. From a very young age, he would try to teach himself music by grasping on to any kind of music he would listen to and try to reproduce it on his harmonium as best as he could.

In his teens, Sazed and his friends formed the band Souls, one of most popular names in the music scene today, whose compositions and numbers are still sung by youngsters and the elderly alike, even after so many years. "It was in the early 70's when we got together with Souls in Chittagong," he says. "Souls is a part of me. It started from my bedroom! The best thing about the band was that we were there for everyone, starting from the rich to the poor. We would play for everybody."

Sazed's thirst for learning music and discovering newer dimensions led him to move from one country to another. "At one point, Souls got extremely busy doing shows," he adds. "I could not find any time to actually learn music or experiment with more elements. That's when I decided to take a vacation to Denmark. In fact I wasn't sure if I was going to stay there for good. So I told my friends here that I would be coming back. But eventually, I stayed back." Sazed spent 21 years of his life there before moving to Spain.

Sazed has studied Indian classical music under Acharya Sri Pandit Bimolendu Mukherjee, Ustad Jamal Uddin Bhartiya, Roshan Jamal, Ashit Banerjee, Raj Bhan Singh and Badri Maharaj. He has also worked with western musicians including Nacho Cano, Giovanni Hidalgo, Willian Cepeda, Amores, Omar Sosa and many others. Sazed has had the honour of performing for the King of Sweden and legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.

It was in the early 80's when Sazed heard a record by Nikhil Banerjee, the maestro sitar player. He was so moved by the melody that he wanted to learn the instrument. Coincidentally enough, being the active organiser that he was since childhood, Sazed organised a few concerts in Denmark showcasing various sitar players, which further led him to study the instrument closely. "I was always interested in instruments," he explains. "Thank fully enough, I always had lots of friends who were always very supportive. I would learn and play the guitar, drums and the keys by myself." Finally, he learnt the sitar and has been doing shows in many places for years.

Very recently, the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) organised a solo sitar evening where Sazed played different ragas and dhuns. Tapan Sarkar accompanied Sazed on the tabla. He enthralled the crowd with his fusion mixes, Tagore compositions and ended the evening with a dhun of his own. "The response was amazing!" exclaims Sazed.

Sazed Ul Alam's quest for discovering new elements in music continues even now. To date, he has experimented with Brazilian, Arabic and even African music. He has gone all around the world meeting musicians, working on demos and exchanging ideas. In spite of all the worldliness, Sazed seems to feel right at home when he comes back to his homeland and performs for his people.


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