_By Ushah Kazi
So this has been an interesting week. After an eighteen-month saga the story of the American election transformed from The Lord of the Rings finale into the darkest Game of Thrones episode (a White Walker revenge if ever there was one.)
And I can’t lie, the world is not okay with this. And as Pakistan is part of the world, we can’t be okay with it either. This week we also bid farewell to legendary poet and musician Leonard Cohen, and since music has been known to remedy many an aching heart, let’s end this week with five (live) musical gems.
1. Articulating nostalgia; ‘Yaad itna bhi koi na aye’ by Sajjad Ali
In this age of all that is auto tuned, we often need a legend to show us how it’s really done. Enter Sajjad Ali. Early this week, the maestro was feeling a tad nostalgic about the legendary composer Madan Mohan. So he picks up his cellphone and belts out a perfect rendition of a beloved song. The extent of this one’s candidness is incredible; there is no preparation because when you have a vocal range like this, all you really need a camera and an audience.
2. For the purest kind of longing; ‘Zahid ne Mera Hasil e Iman’ by Natasha Baig
Let me preface this by saying that it is absolutely criminal that this vibrant young lady does not have a larger following, and when you do listen to her execution of this beautiful classic you’ll understand why. Few have the vocal prowess to pick up something performed by Abida Parveen, and not many could have done what Natasha did here. A wonderful talent, and I can’t wait to see what else she can do.
3. Understated perfection; ‘Rasm e Ulfat’ by Arooj aftab
Pakistan’s love for all things loud and garish is no secret. Whether it is a particularly kitschy ‘item number’ flaunting around our cinema screens, or the myriad of politicians blaring through speaker phones on our street corners, we don’t do subtle. It’s a shame really, because when an artist does embrace elegant restraint it let’s their talent speak. This precisely is Arooj Aftab’s charm. As a lover of understated music, I fell in love with her when she performed for the Berklee College of Music.
This little treasure is from her latest live show in New York. Keeping the mood adequately dark, with a solo harpist as her orchestra, she lets her originality shine.
4. The thing about Jazz; Saima Zakir and her guitar
Speaking of originals. It is difficult not to like a young lady from Karachi who loves her guitar. Add to this her affection for illustration, collecting toys, and football and the reasons behind her being on this list become clearer. I don’t think there is anyone who can compare. Which is a good thing, there’s always room in the industry and the world for all things ‘one of a kind’.
5. Remembering the first time; ‘Pehla Nasha’ by Sinnan Fazwani
This song is famously light, vibrant and articulates first-love jitters perfectly. So, a cover has to be decidedly easygoing. Which is why I couldn’t think of anyone more suited to covering it. Sinnan has dabbled in music for a long time, and anyone who has given his page even a passing glance will know that he likes keeping things uncomplicated. In case you forgot what the butterflies felt like, let him remind you.