The Rain

Ghazal - Kayhan Kalhor, Shujaat Husain Khan

Beautiful, mesmerizing, thrilling and profoundly musical ECM debut by the distinguished Indian-Iranian ensemble Ghazal. Since its formation in 1997 by Shujaat Husain Khan and Kayhan Kalhor, long recognized as master musicians in their homelands, Ghazal has stunned audiences around the world with its unique music, which is comprised of improvisations based on Indian and Persian traditional repertoire. Their communicative power is in full bloom on this live recording from Berne, Switzerland.

Featured Artists Recorded

May 2001, Radio Studio DRS, Zürich

Original Release Date


  • 1Fire
    (Kayhan Kalhor, Shujaat Husain Khan)
  • 2Dawn
    (Kayhan Kalhor, Shujaat Husain Khan)
  • 3Eternity
    (Kayhan Kalhor, Shujaat Husain Khan)
Songlines, Top of the world
Ghazal is the inspired fusion of Persian and Indian in the hands of Iranian kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor and sitar player Shujaat Kahn. ... Sandeep Das joins them on tabla. There's a real historical sense in this meeting of cultures as Hindustani music came under a strong Persian influence during the Mughal period and the traditions share several modes and tunings, which are explored in this recording. But you don't need to know any of this to enjoy the music - it's the artistry and personality of the players that make it so seductive. The contrasting textures of the sinewy kamancheh and sparkling jangle of the sitar, the echoing and developing of phrases between the two players, the moments of repose and meditation rising to spectacular pyrotechnics. And the fine, understated vocals from Shujaat Khan. The music on this disc is architectural like the filigree screen on the cover - rich in ornament and detail, but sustained by arch-like structures.
Simon Broughton, Songlines
This hypnotically beautiful marriage of Indian and Iranian classical music proceeds through impulsive echoes and flurries, the sitar's glistening jangle and the searing skitter of the spike fiddle rising as though through a vast cathedral-like space. ... While both musicians are adept in their traditions' complementary modes - ancient melodic structures - there is nothing dry or academic about the improvised music they make. Rather, it is superbly lyrical, full of fire and tenderness and highly accessible. Building quickly to the instrumental pyrotechnics that Westerners love, it leaves space for contemplation, employing non-Eastern musical ideas - the rhythmic imitation of rain and certain kinds of melodic repetition - in ways that will spark in the Western mind, but without a trace of gimmickry.
Mark Hudson, Daily Telegraph
Das Trio Ghazal verbindet die klassischen Musiktraditionen Persiens und Nordindiens. Die dreiteilige Suite The Rain, live 2001 in Bern vom Schweizer Radio DRS aufgenommen, ist dabei ein Glücksfall. Der Hörer erlebt die Hochkultur orientalischer Improvisation, eingefasst in die superb schön ausgeschmückte Klangwelt einer stets fortgetragenen Melodie. Ist die indische Musik auch im Westen bereits weit verbreitet und anerkannt, so wird hier erstmals eine Brücke zur weitgehend unbekannten persischen Musik gebaut. Der Teheraner Kayan Kalhor spielt eine Kamancheh, eine Violine, die ... vor dem Körper auf den Boden gestützt gestrichen und gezupft wird. Seine Studien in klassischer persischer Musik und westlicher Klassik vereinen sich in einer berührenden Ästhetik, im Klang einer alten, etwas raueren Barockvioline vergleichbar. ... Dicht an dicht reihen sich geistreich inspirierte Improvisationen im Dialog mit dem indischen Sitarspieler Shujaat Husain. ... Der Tablameister Sandeep Das ... wandelt grandios zwischen komplexen Metren, steigert das Tempo zu einem berstenden Kulminationspunkt, die den Hörer nur noch staunend zurücklässt. Lebendig wirbelnd. Kraftvoll suggestiv. Leuchtend farbig. - Betörend schön!
Matthias Weiller, Jazzpodium
The meeting of equals that is Ghazal has been developing for several years - unusual when so much cross-cultural work is based on single tours or guest appearances. ... While both lead musicians are at the top of their professions - the sitar-playing son of Vilayat Khan, Shujaat Husain Khan, and a star of the Persian fiddle, Kayhan Kalhor - they are free of the rigidity that can afflict inheritors of tradition, and have reached far into each other's worlds. For their latest album they offer three pieces recorded live in Bern, following a format of slow, free introduction and quicker section with tabla. It's the way one player's improvising sparks off the other's that gives Ghazal its excitement, quite distinct from duet styles within either tradition; the bias leans towards India, but Kalhor is so different from an Indian violinist, more on-the-note and revelling in virtuoso string-crossing like a Western concerto soloist, that he draws his colleague along unexpected paths.
Robert Maycock, BBC Music Magazine