Various Sufi

With translations of the poetry included in the liner notes, the nine tracks on this compilation cover Sufi Islamic traditions spanning North India, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Egypt and Iran in both classical and modern forms. There’s a 1960 recording of the kind of flute and percussion pieces used by the Maulawi Dervishes for "whirling” dances. The Sindh Music Ensemble’s "Way of Shah Abdul Latif” represents a raw, energetic folk style from the western Indo-Pakistan border. The prayer for forgiveness by Sheikh Mohamed Al Helbawy and the ilahis sung by the team of Tàhir Aydogdu and Timuçin Çevikoglu are initially reverent in tone, but slowly unfold their ecstatic nature as they move deeper into the poetry. Zohreh Jooya’s orchestral rendering of "My Soul” (a poem by Rumi) reflects her training in both Western and Afghani classical music and though its multi-instrumental innovations sound somewhat unorthodox, if not outright bourgeois, in contrast to the other tracks mentioned here, it’s far more sublime than the cut and paste mix done on the qawaali pieces by Shafqat Ali Khan and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The former makes a poor, but obviously commercial, attempt to incorporate saxophones and pianos into the arrangement, while the latter loops the chorus and invites the senile-sounding Sultan Khan (a great sarangi player recently known for his uneven contributions to the Asian massive scene) to mumble overtop. Such atrocities are minor on the whole, but for those looking for Nusrat’s best contemporaries, the live tracks by the Sabri Brothers and Abida Parveen (one of the few female qawaali singers) should more than suffice. (Arc)