Ali Ahmed Hussain Khan & Monilal Nag | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ali Ahmed Hussain Khan & Monilal Nag 

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ALI AHMED HUSSAIN KHAN & MONILAL NAG

This concert offers a rare treat, a pairing of the sitar--the best-known Indian instrument in the West, thanks to Ravi Shankar and the Beatles--with the sheh'nai, a hard-to-find, oboelike double reed that produces a piercing, fluttering drone. Sitarist Monilal Nag is a master of Hindustani music (the austere classical style of northern India) and a student of the Vishnupur school, which is based on the subtle, highly restrained dhrupad singing of the north; his hushed improvisations are undeniably beautiful. I haven't been able to track down any recordings by Ali Ahmed Hussain Khan, which testifies to the obscurity of the sheh'nai even in Indian circles. Its best-known exponent, Bismillah Khan, almost single-handedly elevated the instrument from ritual use (most prominently in weddings) to classical status, but it's still not terribly common. Most sheh'nai performances feature a second sheh'nai playing a steady drone, but this performance will substitute tamboura. The tabla player is Subhen Chatterjee. Saturday, 6:30 PM, Oak Park Arts Center, 200 N. Oak Park, Oak Park; 630-415-2620. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photos.

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