Friday, 12 August 2016

Ragni Recordings - An amazing CD collection from Pakistan, published by Zaheer Alam Kidvai. Now available also outside of Pakistan

Last year I discovered Zaheer Alam Kidvai's amazing blog Ragni Recordings, where he presents the 60 CDs he made up to now. The recordings cover basicly three domains: old style Qawwali of the Qawwal Bachon Ka Gharana (Delhi Gharana), classical Raga music and recitations of Urdu poetry. Just about a week ago three new releases were published, amongst them two sets of CDs by the great Agra Gharana singer Asad Ali Khan, of whom only very few recordings were available up to now (see below). Zaheer made his releases now available to music lovers outside of Pakistan on Dropbox as downloads in wave format for a very reasonable price. For more details refer to his blog: Ragni Recordings.
As the CDs were only for sale in Pakistan and quite a number of them I found extremely interesting, I tried to figure out a way to get them. I knew already that shipping things from Pakistan is almost impossible.
So I asked Musab who runs the wonderful blog Tangled Up In Blue, mainly on older Qawwali, if he could help me in any way getting these CDs. I was very touched that he responded immediatly very warmly and told me that a Pakistani living in Vienna was about to visit Pakistan and that he would ask him if he would be so kind to bring the CDs back to Austria and then ship them to me from there. That man also responded very warmly to this request and so after a couple of weeks I had these fantastic CDs (and DVDs) in my hands. This man from Vienna - I found out a little later - was no other than Asifmanu, the one behind the fantastic blog Qaul devoted also to older Qawwali and older Raga music from Pakistan.
Since then I was reguarly in contact with Zaheer Alam Kidvai, reminding him to inform me about future releases. As he is a very busy man it took about a year that the next three relaeses came out: two CD sets by the great Agra singer Asad Ali Khan and a double CD by Munawar Ali Khan.
Ustad Asad Ali Khan was one of the foremost and most outstanding students of Ustad Faiyaz Khan. After partition he went to Pakistan. As far as I know there exists only one commercial recording by him, which we posted a while ago here. The recordings published now by Zaheer Alam Kidvai are from two Mehfils. Very very beautiful old style music.
Ustad Munawar Ali Khan is the well-known son of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. We posted on our blog three LPs by him here. This new release is also a Mehfil recording.
All these new releases have an amazingly good sound quality though the recordings are Mehfil (private concert) recordings and were done over 40 years ago.

Among the older CDs especially interesting are the 7 volumes by "Manzoor Ahmed Niazi aur Hamnava", here called Badi Party (Badi means - I guess - greater, older, like in Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, the older or greater Ghulam Ali.) The troupe consisted of four major Qawwals: Manzoor Niazi, Munshi Raziuddin, Bahauddin and Iftikhar Ahmad. All these members formed later (in the 1970s) their own ensembles and were the torchbearers of the original Qawwali of the Qawwal Bachon Ka Gharana (Delhi Gharana). The first three became very famous amongst connoisseurs. Today's most outstanding Qawwali ensemble of this old, extremely interesting tradition is the one by Farid Ayaz and his brother Abu Mohammad, the sons of the great Munshi Raziuddin. You find here CDs (and DVDs) by all these artists.

Zaheer just gave me some details on the new releases:
"1. All recordings older than 1970 were on a Sandberg Recorder
All Recordings after 1971 were on a Revox A77 10” Recorder
Most recordings after 2007 were on a Zoom Digital Recorder
Just a few recordings after 2007 were also done on the old Revox.
I prefer the Revox to listen to my recordings and have never felt that CDs match the Analog quality.
Transferring 78s (and most LPs) to CD is Ok, since many of them don’t have the Analog quality and in many cases are scratched etc.
2. The AAK 1 is May 1970
3. The AAK 2 is June 1971
4. More of AAK coming soon.
5. Munawwar’s Karachi Mahfils will all be 1975 (yes there are more)
He came here for a month and asked me to record him and took a copy of each performance. I have the originals."

Addition in October 2018:

All the great classical music and Qawwali CDs from Ragni Recordings are now available for lossless download on Qobuz:
Only the ones with light classical music and poetry recitation are not available. This makes it now much easier to obtain them.


RensMan said...

Hi Tawfiq, how can we get some of these recordings? Especially the Asad Ali Khan recordings?

Tawfiq said...

Go to the website by clicking on the link (in red) and there click then on the cover of the CDs and a window will open with the email to contact. This works up to now only for the three new CD sets.

Luqman said...

Never did I think I would actually get to hear more of Asad Ali Khansahab. Ever since I heard his singing in the gharanon ki gaiki set I have been entranced. Two full length recordings came out of Farhat Said Khansahabs collection, a Ramkali and a Nat Bihag, and even that felt unbelievable. Thank you very much for informing us all about this Tawfiq-ji, may Allah reward you for this service.

Jagdish Parikh said...

Please post the website link .I am unable to find. Thanks. Jagdish

Tawfiq said...

The words in red are all links. Just click on them.