Justin’s Album of the Week: Shahen-Shah by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 7.09.03 PMEvery week of this outdoor Mister Sunday season, the party begins with the airing of an entire album. This week Justin Carter selects. He’s chosen Shahen-Shah by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. This is what he has to say about it.

Last Friday I went to the Shinnecock Nation’s Pow Wow in Southampton, NY. There were representatives of tribes from all over North America dancing in absolutely beautiful traditional clothes, and accompanying them were a couple of groups of singers and drummers. The music was an entrancing polyrhythmic, polyphonic combination of singers and drummers. I’ve been dreaming about it since and trying to find recordings.

I haven’t yet found anything, but I’ve pulled out this album by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the master of Qawwali, a devotional Sufi music that’s most often heard in Muslim areas of Pakistan and India. One day, when I go back to school to get my doctorate in musicology, I’ll figure out the cultural and migrational connections between the Native American music I heard Friday and Qawwali, but for now, all I can say is that both are evocative and trance inducing, and both are stunningly beautiful. I can’t wait to play Nusrat for you on Sunday…

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