Tuesday, April 9, 2013

...On Manzoor Niazi Sb's Passing

It seems the only thing that can awaken - at least momentarily - this long slumbering blog from its stupor is the passing of one of the Great Ones; the Touchstones that support the spiritual/cultural/psychological/whateverelse-ical framework of my life. In the past I've had to write - briefly or at length, depending on my state of mind at that time- about my thoughts on the passing of Iqbal Bano, Mehdi Hassan, Jagjit Singh, Shammi Kapoor etc, and one one rare occasion, of my grandfather. It's like the only time my thoughts crystallize into a coherent whole is when another one of my Touchstones crumbles and I have to frantically try and balance myself , my Self , on the precious few that remain.

Ustad Manzoor Ahmed Khan Niazi has passed away today. He was 98. He was, both age-wise and stature-wise the senior-most Qawwal in the Indo-Pak Subcontinent. He had one of the most instantly recognizable and absolutely, mellifluously endearing voices in all of Qawwali. He was the leader of the most phenomenally gifted, albeit short-lived Qawwali group of the last century, a Supergroup which included his cousins Munshi Raziuddin Khan. Ustad Bahauddin Khan and Iftekhar Ahmed Nizami, and whose surviving recordings seem to date from a time and place that's almost too phenomenally wonderful that merely listening to them sometimes feels like an act of desecration. His last recordings, from when he was 90 years old, still carried the same verve, the same 'taazgi' as his recordings from the '60s
 
His was the voice that first sang Maulana Jami's "Naseema" and Nawab Hilm's "Yaad Hai Kuch Bhi Hamaari Kanhaiyya" to me, and even today I can scarcely appreciate these two canonical Qawwali kalaams in any other Qawwal's voice. With Niazi Sb's passing closes the chapter of the Golden Age of Pakistani Qawwali. He was a predecessor of, and later a contemporary of Nusrat, The Sabri Brothers, Aziz Mian Qawwal, Bakhshi Salamat Qawwal, Aziz Ahmed Warsi, Jafar Hussayn Khan Badayuni and ALL the Qawwals of the latter three quarters of the twentieth century. He survived them all well into the twenty-first century before finally returning to his Maker

I hope that Manzoor Niazi Sb's legacy - in the form of the Qawwal Bacchon Ka Gharana, of which he was the senior-most doyen - flourishes and thrives, and keeps on serving, nurturing and promoting the art of Qawwali that its three stalwarts; Qawwal Bahauddin Khan Sb, Munshi Raziuddin Khan Sb and Manzioor Ahmed Niazi Sb served so nobly. His son Abdullah Manzoor Niazi Qawwal has inherited his father's unbelievably melodious voice and is among the foremost Qawwals of the subcontinent today. I'm sure that Abdullah Niazi Sb, along with Farid Ayaz & Abu Muhammad, Qawwals Najmuddin Saifuddin And Brothers, Subhan Ahmed Nizami Qawwal and the third generation of the Qawwal Bacchay will carry on the wonderful and unbroken 700 year old tradition that their ancestors learnt from Hz Amir Khusrau (RA).

I shall now spend the rest of the day listening to Manzoor Niazi Sb's version of Naseema and praying for his departed soul; and I'd request the readers to do the same.

N.B.  A selection of Niazi Sb's recordings can be found here. 

1 comment:

  1. I did the same , praying for the departed soul and listening to mere banne ki baat na poochho a video where he is sitting and singing at the ripe age of more than 80years . He will continue living in our minds , I had known him for more than half a century . Besides his soft and unique voice , he was also gifted with good manners , a real gentleman !May he rest in peace .Ameen

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