Monday, 1 August 2016

Latafat Hussain Khan (1920-1986) - A Gem of Agra Gharana - LP published in India in 1976

In the past we posted already recordings by the great Ustad Faiyaz Khan here and here and by his most importent disciple Ustad Sharafat Hussain Khan hereherehere and here.
Recently Meera Music, India, published 7 CDs by Ustad Faiyaz Khan. These outstanding CDs can be obtained from: 

Here we post a LP by another of the great masters of Agra Gharana: Latafat Hussain Khan.

"Ustad Latafat Hussain Khan belonged to the tradition of Khandani musicians, who held aloft and carried forward the torch of musical learning and excellence. Both as a performer and as teacher he had the unmistakable mark of a gharanadar musician. Deeply religious, self effacing and unassuming by nature, he was always willing to give – qualities that were very clearly reflected in his music and in his approach to the performance and teaching of music.
Born on December 12, 1920, Latafat Hussain Khan was the youngest son of Altaf Hussain Khan of the Agra gharana. He was initiated into the rigours of music by Tasadduq Hussain Khan. Then followed an extended training period under his eldest brother Ustad Khadim Hussain Khan in Bombay. Sometime in the early forties, he went to Baroda to stay with his uncle, Ustad Faiyyaz Khan and receive rigorous taleem. He also took advanced taleem from his gharana elder, Vilayet Hussain Khan.  Latafat was musically a successor to Ustad Faiyyaz Khan. He was particularly known for his powerful voice, his crisp nom-tom alaps, and his effervescent delivery. With his masculine voice, dhrupad based alap, he was in the mainstream of the Agra gharana. In voice production, he was close to Ustad Faiyyaz Khan – a deep penetrating voice with tremendous control on swar and shrutis, a voice that deliberately created broken nuances while singing the rangila phrases made famous by his ustad. His alap was rich and his raga portrayal was sublime. Latafat Khan composed hundreds of bandishes under the pen name of "Premdas".  
Like most exponents of the Agra style, Latafat Khan was a scholar musician, ever true to the ancient tenets of classicism and very concerned with what was "correct" and "pure" and very disdainful of compromises made all too often by younger musicians who sometimes sacrificed authenticity for easy popularity. At the same time, like many others of his famed gharana, he gave great importance to the entertainment value of classical music. This was achieved by the judicious use of "layakari", the choice of colourful bandishes and the clever utilization of tans.
Latafat Khan was honoured by Sur Singar Samsad in Bombay and was also the recipient of a host of other awards. In 1978, Latafat Khan joined the Sangeet Research Academy of the I. T. C. at Calcutta as a Guru and trained several pupils. Even though his health was giving him trouble and his voice was losing its grit and quality possibly due to his asthmatic trouble, he was a greatly revered and respected musician. Those who came into contact with him will never forget the warmth of his nature. ITC Sangeet Research Academy raised Latafat Hussain to the national level again through concert appearances in all parts of India.
Latafat Hussain died in Kolkata on December 11, 1986."

Another beautiful LP - the only other one published - can be found here.


Richard said...

Thanks for this, Tawfiq. You have such superb taste in music! Each post (at least for the Hindustani music) seems like the perfect companion to the previous one. I'm glad I can experience this unfolding commentary/narrative in real time each week!

Late last year I purchased those 7 CDs of Ustad Faiyaz Khan directly from India and they are of highest musical standard, even if (unavoidably) the source material cannot always be the highest audio quality. In fact I purchased about 40 Meera CDs in an effort to reduce my per-CD shipping cost, and they offer many many rarities unobtainable elsewhere. Those who are interested in such treasures should definitely contact! You won't have to purchase 40 Cds to get a great deal on shipping!

For several months recently whenever I would plug my iPhone into the USB port of my car, the phone would start playing (automatically, without effort from me) an LP transfer of Ustad Latafat Hussain Khan. I believe I obtained it from bolingo69's wonderful blog.

It wasn't the first audio file in terms of artist, album, genre, or track number or name, and I never did figure out why the phone would start out -- every time -- with that LP playing automatically. Maybe the phone knew something! I started to look forward to hearing him when I would start my engine on the way to and from work. Then I began seeking out his music on YouTube and found a fairly large series of amateur recordings of house concerts and public concerts. Anyone enjoying this post should definitely look there as well, although this LP will have much better recording quality.

So Ustad Latafat Hussain Khan has a special place in my heart. His vocal delivery is utterly dignified yet always expressive.

There is a large company in India that does not seem to know what to do with its great musical treasures. I am certain there are hundreds (or possibly thousands) of hours of unreleased music which is probably physically deteriorating. Recently this company began offering downloads of certain artists' work at 1 rupee per track. That is the sort of value this company places on works of staggering genius. That company will probably never spend the time and money needed to release definitive versions of the LPs you are offering here on the blog. Your work here is more than just sharing. You are helping to preserve the evidence of endangered musical cultures from North India, Central Asia, and the Middle East / North Africa.

Thanks for the effort you put in here. I know from experience that operating a music blog on a regular basis is difficult and at times frustrating -- much more than most of your readers would imagine.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I've been trying to find this LP for a long time! This is wonderful. Thank you for all the work you do in bringing this music to your audience. It's very much appreciate.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this great share!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Tawfiq,

You are god's gift to music! :) What a wonderful vintage collection you have on your site!

I have a request - I was looking for Trichy Sankaran's (the legendary mridangam maestro for over 60 years) performances and I couldn't find any. TS performed at the Sheraz music festival in Iran in 1968 accompanying Veena Doraiswamy Iyengar and would love to see a photo, audio, or video of the same.

If you can upload any other rare ones featuring him, that will be wonderful as well.

Thank you for the great work!!!

Tawfiq said...

Thank you. Unfortunately I have none. If you put his name into Google you will find a good number of recordings, especially from YouTube. On there are two programs by him.

Rory said...

Thanks a lot, that's great!