|Yousuf Ali Khan|
There is a four-day ‘World Jazz Festival’ at Wilton’s Music Hall, which started yesterday Thursday November 21st and runs until Sunday 24th. It features musicians from the Grand Union Orchestra.
Composer/Director Tony Haynes writes:
It’s always invidious to select one musician to characterise an enterprise that involves a couple of dozen, but in this case – in spite of the presence of such jazz luminaries as Chris Biscoe, Louise Elliott, Claude Deppa and Kevin Robinson – I’d like to pay tribute to Yousuf Ali Khan.
Yousuf has been a member of the Grand Union Orchestra almost since the beginning. He is a fantastic tabla player whose expertise far transcends the classical North Indian tradition of which he is a master. He comes from a long line of Bengali master musicians, including Ali Akhbar Khan, but has lived in Britain since the age of 18.
There are many fine tabla players in the UK these days, but few with Yousuf’s capacity to work sensitively and creatively with musicians from other traditions, and above all to improvise and experiment. His influence on all Grand Union’s work, and my own compositions, has been profound. Not only a charismatic performer, he is also an inspired teacher and workshop leader, crucial to all our participatory and education projects.
For the Wilton’s series, I have put together an 8-piece ‘house band’ joined on successive nights by other Grand Union musicians, beginning with an open jam session (21st), followed by a global dance music night (22nd), an evening featuring six extraordinary singers (23rd) and a ‘big band’ programme to finish (24th), with the soloists listed above.