I listened to Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan and they were beautiful. In fact, I listened to many musicians over the last few days, and enjoyed most.
Yet, when I watched and listened to Ustad Amjad Ali Khan – again – I realised what makes me fall in love with him every time, year after year, concert after concert.
I love that his climax in each raag does not border on noise. He takes you all the way up to a crescendo and then gently falls into the softest and most tender of notes. That makes him incomparable. He lets you fall so gently and beautifully that you smile and sometimes, even laugh. That kind of laughter is particularly beautiful because it’s like a child’s laugh of pure joy, not adult laughter that finds something humorous.
I love how he flies with his instrument, smiling as he plays – and, yes, I do love how he plays for an audience. He takes the audience with him on his journey, not playing only for connoisseurs who can appreciate ‘high’ art that the layman cannot. There is euphoria in the audience; the mood of the crowd (standing in what little space it can find) is one notch higher than for any other musician; the audience is hanging on to each note. Ah!
Above all, though, what I love about Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is that he never sacrifices music for virtuosity. His music makes me believe that something within me resonates along with him, that the whole universe is in harmony. His music, in short, is music. Not finger acrobatics.