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Whats cookin in the studio...

March 20, 2009

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Gupreet Channa playing the tabla— file photo.

Clichéd as it may sound; music really does bring people together. It`s a language that transcends cultural differences and geographic boundaries.

In an attempt to bridge boundaries between the pop and classical genre, Rohail Hyatt launched Coke Studio last year which featured performances by pop acts such as Ali Azmat, Ali Zafar and Strings with folk/classical acts such as Hussain Baksh Gulloo, Saieen Tufail and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. It also featured performances by Mauj, Sajid and Zeeshan and Saba and Selina, which are aired on TV and are also available for download.

This time round it seems as if I have a big brotherly sort of role and I don`t know why that is so but I am enjoying it thoroughly,` says Rohail Hyatt about working with the artistes featured in season two, `I`m very proud and honoured to be working with all the team members as they are an amazing bunch and are nothing short of family to me.`

Rakae Jamil, who is featured on sitar in the second installment, is of the opinion that `regional and provincial music is something that mass audiences in Pakistan are familiar with, and will respond to emotionally.`

Having learnt under the tutelage of Ashraf Shareef Khan, Ikhlaq Hussain and Shujaat Hussain Khan from Delhi, Rakae has been at the sitar for the past eight years.

A musicology graduate from NCA, he also teaches at the Aitchison College and at the Sanjan Nagar Institute. He`s a published writer on music and his previous performances include those at the All Pakistan Music Conference in 2006 and at the World Performing Arts Festival in 2007.

A major addition to this season is that of Gupreet Channa, a tabla player who`s flying in all the way from Canada. He initially started out playing kirtan (hymns) at the Guruwardas and has learnt the Punjabi Gharana style by Ustaad Parshothan Singh.

He`s been playing the tabla for the past 26 years and his playing has evolved to encompass a more fusion feel to it. Gupreet Channa has also performed and recorded with foreign artists such as Nelly Furtado, Wyclef Jean, Jorane and Kiran Ahluwalla.

To Gupreet, his participation is to `bridge barriers, celebrate, diversity, and bring out something greater than the sum of all its parts is one that is close to my heart, and to have the opportunity to be a part of a project that furthers that mandate is excellent. As a musician, to have the opportunity to meet, learn and create with other musicians is what the journey is all about.`

Other musicians featured on the set include Gul Muhammad on sarangi currently working with the band Taal Karisma on their debut album. He has previously performed with the likes of Salamat Ali Khan Sahib, Roshan Ali Khan and Ghulam Abbas Ali Khan. He has also worked in the studio with Faisal Rafi and Shallum Xavier.

Playing the Iranian Rubab is Sadiq Sameer from Peshawar, who not only has over a decade worth of rubab playing under his belt but also teaches at two schools based in the NWFP. He has previously done live shows on PTV and Radio Pakistan, has performed and worked in the studio with the likes of Zahoor Khan, Rahim Shah, Jalal Sarhadi and the late Gul Khan and Ustad Sher Afghan.

Season one of the aforementioned project— v isualised and spearheaded by Rohail Hyatt brought together for the first time in Pakistan prominent members of the pop industry in collaboration with some of those from the folk and classical genres.

We saw Strings, Ali Zafar and Ali Azmat create music with the likes of Ustaad Hussain Baksh Gulloo, Saieen Tufail and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan along with newer acts in the pop industry (Mauj, Sajid and Zeeshan, Saba and Selina) showing off their skills. As expressed by those involved in working in season one of the aforementioned project, they ended up forming lasting bonds and not surprisingly so.