Amjad Ali Khan is one of the undisputed masters of the music world. For many, he takes on a celestial avatar when he is playing the Sarod. Born to Sarod icon Ustad Haafiz Ali khan, he gave his first performance at the age of six. Over the course of his career, he has delivered his music in a flexible instrument line that is vocal in its expressiveness. He has reinvented the technique of Sarod playing which today is distinct in its nomenclature. He has won numerous accolades including a Grammy nomination, the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum and has performed at venues world over like the Carnegie Hall and the Royal Albert Hall. His sons, Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan, are also very talented and celebrated Sarod players.Today, they are considered as one of the finest Sarod players and have obtained a very special place for themselves among music enthusiasts across the world. They are an inspiration for the younger generation of musicians.

Music OMH Reviews Dakhabrakha at WOMAD

Ukrainian quartet Dakhabrakha provide yet another WOMAD moment with their enchanting, theatrical show that is given extra poignancy given recent events in their home country. Oddly beguiling, occasionally deliberately atonal, their incredible vocal harmonies collide with furious drumming. Their music takes on an electronic shape, the tent becomes a church – the crowd push to rave. Ukranian raps and accordians deliver a crescendo that stuns WOMAD to a moment of rare silence.

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Of West African heritage and based in Paris, Debademba feature the powerful voice and riveting stage presence of Mohamed Diaby, and the remarkable bluesy fingerwork of veteran guitarist, Abdoulaye Traore. They start off as a very stylish, contemporary Malian roots band with some jazzy overtones and great impassioned ballads before, half-way through the set, exploding into rock’n’roll riffs, with Diaby channelling Howling Wolf and Robert Plant in an utterly compelling and highly danceable affray.

Some parts of Amjad Ali Khan’s performance immediately afterwards were similarly meditative, while other sections were fast and furious as the master sarod player jousted with his two sons over propulsive percussion.

Then came the most compelling hour of the whole festival. Three women in white dresses and tall furry stovepipe hats sitting in a row, one playing cello and other two on percussion. To their right, a balding nondescript man in an embroidered jacket with a concertina and hand-drum. This was DakhaBrakha from the Ukraine, a one-time visitor to our own, late, lamented Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures. The women sing, their voices wild, free and magnificent; the cello sets up a riff like heavy metal, and the percussion marches like a shamanic army. The big crowd in the tent is utterly bewitched. Suddenly, the percussion stops and the male figure plays a gentle tune on the melodeon and then accompanies it with the sweetest falsetto voice. This beautiful piece continues until the percussion and cello crash back in and he roars and growls like a demented being over the top of it until it all quietens again and he is back to a sweet falsetto. Extraordinary, surprising and inspired. The show ends with a huge roar of approval and a mass waving of Ukrainian flags.

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The Guardian Reviews Dakhabrakha at WOMAD

This was a classic Womad, and the most unexpectedly successful, emotional performance came from a band featuring three women in furry stovepipe hats. DakhaBrakha are from Ukraine and matched edgy, eerie harmony vocals with concertina, cello and percussion work, in an exhilarating set that seemed to sum up their country’s chaos and hope. They veered from moody and atmospheric passages to a furious, exuberant percussive finale in which they waved Ukrainian flags, looking bemused at the delighted reaction they had caused.

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