East meets west: Fusion of sax, tabla and sitar enthrals audience

The quartet is in Pakistan on an embassy-arranged tour from September 15-28.

Obaid Abbasi September 26, 2011


The PNCA auditorium was packed as a New York-based jazz group performed with Pakistani musicians to promote cultural exchanges between Pakistan and the United States.

Ari Roland, Zaid Nasser, Chris Byars, and Keith Gregory Balla came on stage to a warm welcome from the young music lovers of the twin cities, diplomats and embassy officials.

Roland hit the most memorable notes of the night, playing his guitar to gentle perfection. He took the audience on a tour through the “golden age” of jazz, which is a fusion of western and African music conceived in the southern states of the USA by African Americans. The music style is made distinct by its heavy use of saxophones and other wind instruments.

Among the many soulful instrumentals that the quartet performed, a cover of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” was one of the highlights.

Four other songs were presented using a volley of soothing eastern musical instruments with a powerful saxophone line and pow wow drums, a Native American percussion instrument.

“I am sure that concerts like this will reduce the ongoing tension between Pakistan and the US,” said Jalil Khan, a music lover.

Similarly, the Pakistani musicians also performed and presented a number of songs, with “Pyar Nahin Hai Sur Se Jisko” getting a loud round of applause.

Aamir Hussain, Mohammad Ajmal and Mohammad Salman performed using a sitar, tabla and dhol, setting up a fusion performance, which energised the crowd with the performance of one of Sufi rockers Junoon’s signatures, Jazba-e-Junoon, which brought the capacity crowd to their feet.

US Embassy Charge de Affairs Richard Hogland described the event as a “good part of diplomacy” because “jazz is a form of music that America has contributed to the fusion of interests and people for a very long time.”

According to the US embassy, the quartet is in Pakistan on an embassy-arranged tour from September 15-28. They have already performed in Karachi, and Lahore, and now in the capital.

In Islamabad, the quartet will collaborate with the Pakistani band Fuzon to create a US-Pakistani friendship song that will be showcased at a live show in Islamabad next week.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th,  2011.


aahmed | 9 years ago | Reply

It was an amazing performance, and the one in karachi. Can you help me find a place to download it?

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