Born in 1989, Suhail Yuisuf Khan is the grandson of my first teacher Ustad Sabri Khan. I first met him in Birmingham, UK in 1999. He was on tour with his grandfather and his uncle Kamal Sabri, both of whom he learned from throughout his childhood. According to Suhailji, he was crazy about sarangi as a child and was burning with desire to learn the instrument, but Sabri Khan discouraged him—telling him what a difficult instrument it is and how much more important his education was—he'd be able to get a good job. But his uncle Kamal Sabri took pity on him and taught him. Kamal was a strict and severe task-master. As Suhail's playing improved, Sabri Khan took an interest and began to teach him, initiating him as a ganda bandh shagaird.

So Suhail grew up crazy about sarangi, but unlike most sarangi players who came before him, he grew up in an affluant neighborhood of South Delhi. He had the benefits of an English education and plenty of association with peers from educated backgrounds—a far cry from the world of hereditary mirasi musicians. He learned to appreciate diverse forms of music—rock and jazz etc. By his late teens he was playing sarangi and singing in the pioneer fusion band Advaita (see for instance their wonderful Durga on Youtube. He has gone on to several successful fusion projects, a tour of the UK and Germany, performing at the Glastonbury festival. The combination of musical excellence and a very affable personality opens door after door for him. But his classical sarangi playing remains pure and impressive. He has learned a wonderful understanding of nuance and ornamentation from Sabri Khan—and a sensitivity to the refinements of rag which far surpasses most sarangi players of his generation.

Our first offering is from a sitting in Birminham in 1999 when Suhail was 10. He tells me now that he was very nervous at the time, playing in front of his illustrious grandfather. He played a rudimenrtary alap in Yaman, followed by a bandish and tans. Then he sang a lovely and famous bandish in Vasant, the rag of Springtime—which begins with a colourful list of flowers.

 

 

Now we have some videos from Suhailji's visit to my place in July 2015. The first is an informal demonstartion of two beautiful tappas:

More to come!