Music Review: ‘Maestro Studio Sessions’ Reinvents Traditional Gems
Maestros Studio Sessions is a coming together of stellar artists including Shubha Mudgal, Kaushiki Chakrabarty, Ustad Rashid Khan, Hariharan and Shafqat Amanat Ali, to give us a unique interpretation of some of the best classics of an era gone by, when music was inspired by feelings and not trends.
Arranged marvellously, Yaad Piya Ki Aaye has Hariharan crooning in his signature ghazal style, sprinkled with contemporary shades of a classic thumri. The composition is beautiful. It cannot sound breezy without losing its character because of a sense of painful pause that the lyrics give you. Kudos to the composers for retaining the character yet giving a contemporary brush to this evergreen composition.
Immortalised by thumri queen Shobha Gurtu, Rangi Sari Chunaria brings Rekha Bhardwaj to the fore. This arrangement is a winner and Rekha sounds earthy and beautiful. Honestly, I would have liked a bit more ‘tease’ here, but that’s me just being greedy.
Ustad Rashid Khan
Ka Karoon Sajni is an age old composition that has gone through the vocal chords of some of the best known (and at times unknown) singers from the subcontinent. The arrangement in this version is not exactly quiet but doesn’t do a bad job at showcasing Ustad Rashid Khan sahab’s vocal prowess. The guitar play is quite likeable and it accompanies Khan sahab loyally, giving the track a breezy vibe that’s perfect for lazy afternoons and lounging.
Kaushiki Chakraborty’s rendition of Tori Tirchhi Najariya Ke Baan is delicate and sensual. Just before the end, it picks up speed and diminishes the emotion built up thus far a little bit. Something that could have been done away with I feel.
Shubha Mudgal starts Ab Ke Sawan Ghar Aaja with a couplet from the magnificent Habib Jalib and it really fills you up with longing and pain. The ever so haunting sarangi underlines the mood even further. But somehow the manner in which the title lines seem to have been accommodated in the arrangement doesn’t work. Although the song picks up towards the end and manages to become a heart-warming melody again.
Shafqat Amanat Ali
In Laagi Re Tose Lagi, possibly the most aggressively arranged song of the album, Shafqat Amanat Ali doesn’t experiment much. Keeping him company are wild guitars and rich percussions. Towards the end though, you wish the song was longer.
With a ghazal-esque harmonium arresting your senses right from the opening of Woh Jo Hum Mein Tum Mein Qaraar Tha, Shilpa Rao reimagines the soulful melody beautifully. The composers have deliberately kept the arrangement light and that has given Rao more room for improvisation. Like always, she doesn’t disappoint.
Baton Baton Mein Beet Gayee Raat is the most endearing and delicate track of the album. Suha Khan’s fabulous interpretation of this timeless classic will have you swaying in no time. The peppy second half doesn’t disrupt the mood, thanks to the song’s inherent playfulness.
These days, when music factories are churning out tracks wherein melody and emotions sleep on different sides of the bed, this album is a welcome reminder of the potential that lies within these traditional gems. It’s delightful to see such respectful names from the world of music coming together. Maestro’s Studio Sessions leaves me with something bittersweet, just like the lover of Ab Ke Sawan Ghar Aaja wishing for her beloved’s return, and singing to it.
Maestro’s Studio Sessions gets 4 out of 5 Quints from me.
(Rohit Mehrotra is a music listener who is continuously looking for a good song. Language, genre, artist no bar.)