Sunday, June 14, 2009


Bindi, The Colonel and I went to see qawwali singer Faiz Ali Faiz and his party tonight at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

It was the best show of the year.

And they're playing again Thursday at 6:30 at the famous Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. For free!

Faiz Ali Faiz and his party -- two harmonium players, two tablas players and three backup singers-cum-clappers -- were mesmerizing and mind-blowing. The music made the crown chakra tingle.

The last is because qawwali is Sufi devotional vocal music, wherein the singers go into a tracelike state as they sing the praises of God (anyone remember Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan? The first time heard him I was, like, what IS this, and ran out to get it). Sufism is a mystical movement within Islam that seeks to find divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God. Often listeners, and even artists themselves, are transported to a state of wajad, a trance-like state where they feel at one with God, generally considered to be the height of spiritual ecstasy in Sufism, and the ultimate goal of the practice. So the concert was like a type of bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion) - which has the same goal.

The vocal range is not to be believed, and they get so engrossed it seems like they'll lose control. The harmonium and tablas players are some of the best in the world, and flew along right with them. If you've not seen someone jam out on a harmonium, you've been missing out.

It is so rare and wonderful to see so many world-class musicians making pure devotional music - and to see so many men (with great hair) literally singing their hearts out.

The audience couldn't help but get swept up in it too, clapping and singing along and raising one hand just before each chorus.

There were a couple of standing ovations, too.

For the record, Faiz is a seventh generation sufi singer from Pakistan, and this was his first trip to the US.

Thursday's free concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a rare opportunity to see him and his party in one of the most impressive and acoustically perfect outdoor music venues in the country.

And it's free. Free. FREE!

See you there!

1 comment:

  1. This Cat is awesome! I watched the clip 3 times Love it!!!