Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Zoe and Idris Rahman in concert

Zoe & Idris Rahman in concert
Idris and Zoe Rahman are talented musicians from the UK. Acclaimed with various titles in the contemporary jazz scene of Europe, they came to Dhaka, recited stories of Bangladesh through their music and left the crowd mesmerised. Writes Faizul Khan Tanim.

Photos by Andrew Biraj

Zoe was playing as if her fingers were moving like butterflies and the flute of Idris sounded like the powerful wind. Anyone who went to see Idris and Zoe Rahman in concert on March 24 and 25 came out besotted by the beauty and dexterity of their performance. The show was organized by the British Council Dhaka at the Shaheed Zia Auditorium of the National Museum in Dhaka.

Their set comprised of musical scores of popular Bangla modern and Tagore songs like Cholona ghure ashi, Abar hobe toh dekha, Purano shei din-er kotha, Muchey jawa dinguli and more. The tunes were frequently merry but occasionally melancholy, incorporating an interesting fusion and striking a love-struck balance between the East and West. Their cousin Palas Khan sang on the first day, while renowned singer and composer Ornob performed with the Rahman duo on the second and last day of their performance.

Zoe was described in The UK Observer newspaper as ‘one of the finest young pianists in Europe’ while Idris is the tenor saxophonist of the band Soothsayers and, both of them firmly established themselves as bright stars in the contemporary jazz scene. Idris Rahman also co-writes and produces the band’s material.

British Council Dhaka was pleased to present Zoe & Idris Rahman in concert on 24 & 25 March 2007 at 7pm at Shaheed Zia Auditorium, National Museum, Shahbag, Dhaka 1000. Zoe’s most recent album, 'Melting Pot', has been short-listed for the 2006 Nationwide Mercury Prize and was voted 'Jazz Album of the Year' at the 2006 Parliamentary Jazz Awards. The album has been hailed as ‘one of the most distinctive piano trio albums’ (Jazzwise magazine), a ‘fantastic new album’ (Courtney Pine, BBC Radio 2), and ‘in every way, an impressive sequel to her debut’ (Jazz Review). Born in Chichester, UK, Zoe studied music at Oxford University and jazz performance at Berklee College of Music, Boston, where she had lessons with the inspirational pianist JoAnne Brackeen. While in America, she formed her own trio featuring bassist Joshua Davis and the renowned drummer Bob Moses. Idris Rahman, tenor saxophonist is at the heart of the band, Soothsayers. Alongside co-leader Robin Hopcraft, trumpeter, Idris Rahman co-writes and produces the bands material. Their music offers a fusion of neo Afro beat and dub - a cultural blend created by movement of people, music with vision and a message. Apart from the tenor saxophone, Idris plays clarinet, bass clarinet and the flute.

*This article was first published in Glitz Magazine of The Daily New Age March 29' 2007

Cricket & BANGLADESH - The AD that stole our heart

3, 2, 1, Action We, Cricket and Bangladesh
Grameen Phone’s new musical advertisement creating emotional waves
by Faizul Khan Tanim

Bangladesh has been depicted on Television commercials in different ways over the years, but has any one managed to send a shiver of patriotism down your spine? I am not a huge fan of Cricket but this particular advertisement gave me goose-bumps.
This ad has become so popular that, discussions regarding it in online forums could be found plenty and, even a low graphic quality of it is put on You Tube, the fastest growing video streaming site.

Although, like others, this ad aims at human expressions to cash in on the sentiment of the consumers, there is no denying that it carries a spirit of achievement.

The 150 seconds ad titled ‘We, Cricket and Bangladesh’, the concept and script of the advertisement for Grameen Phone (GP) was developed by the creative agency Cogito Marketing Solutions. Amitabh Reza directed, camera operator was L Apu Rozario and Half Stop Down is the production house.

Creative Director of the agency, Razeeb H Chowdhury said, ‘we made a proposal to GP to develop this advertisement and our goal was to make such an impact so that the people from all walks of life can sing and affectionately hum this musical ad.’

‘This TV commercial’s purpose is to let everyone know about its three focused areas: Cricket is everywhere, the hope of doing well and, how this game may unite the whole nation,’ Razeeb added.

It starts with rural Bangladesh, children with eager expressions and the making of a pennant of pride and victory – a cricket bat. Cricket, cricket, cricket. It’s everywhere - metropolitan rooftops, lazy classrooms, within an uptight teacher, car lit city field, in vivid imagination and computer games, in urban romanticism, in a village kid trying to find fun in water and in a random flirting during a street game.

The visualisation was excellent and, nearly, most viewers commented that: if our national team boys can jump for a ball that, the village kid does from a boat, then cricket will soon become an inspirational sport uniting the people.

The jingle has been crafted to hum! The lyric is extremely catchy with a melodic tune.
As soon as the tune and jingle voices the phrase Lal Shobuj er…Potaka, you immediately feel a greater part of your heart crying aloud – Bangladesh.

The music director was Fuad Ibne Rubbi, lead singer was Milon Mahmud and singers Mila, Ishtiaque and Shamrat gave side vocals.
The final part apparently touched every one as it shows how this game unites the whole nation irrespective of class, creed, religion and gender. With prayers offered in mosques, temples, monasteries and churches and in the hearts of millions of Bangladeshis, the least that our team can do is PLAY A GOOD GAME!

*This article was first published in Glitz Magazine of The Daily New Age March 29 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Love to be the ‘Power-slave’

Legendary metal band Iron Maiden took the stage in Bangalore and Aced High. Faizul Khan Tanim and company took the flight of the Icarus, avoided the prowler, had a brush with Charlotte the harlot and, came back home with the phantom of the opera following them
Phots by: Gibran Tanwir and AFP

Close your eyes for a moment! Imagine the memorable words - Woe to thee Oh Earth and Sea, for the devil sends the beast with wrath because he knows the time is short. Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number its number is six hundred and sixty six. Now, try to see in your mind’s eye - Bruce Dickinson chanting those words ‘Live’ in front of you. Yes! A journey began, as we were high on a monstrous pill called Iron Maiden, for they rocked our world and captivated with their music, rock stunts and 20 tonnes of exclusive stage equipments. Better believe it!

It was a Maiden voyage for few of us from Bangladesh who travelled a distance of approximately 1800 kilometres to Bangalore to experience the band’s gig. Now, every journey has its uncertainties, excitement and the feeling of accomplishment after hardship and, that is what precisely makes it an adventure which, otherwise, would have become just-an-ordinary-story.

Our story had its twist when all of a sudden we became almost sure that watching Maiden would only be part of a fiction for us. However, the phrase ‘if there is a will, there is a way’ surely did amazing justice. We finally booked flight tickets from Kolkata to Bangalore. As we boarded the aircraft and was sure to watch the legends, everything seemed beautiful - even the air hostess seen through the bubbles of a drink stronger than a soft drink.
On the bright sunny concert day of March 17, reaching the majestic venue – the Palace Grounds Bangalore, we could see a huge snaky queues of fans all dressed in black Iron Maiden t-shirts, rugged jeans and bandanas because it was all about metal! Nearly 25,000 crowds thronged the venue with flags, banners and hands up high sporting the ‘rock’ emblem.

After a massive wait, the gates to the ground were finally open. Everyone rushed to be in the front row, for no one wanted to miss cheering for dear Eddie.

Campus Rock Idols competition winners, band FTN opened the show. Something really went bad with the sound mixing and although the band had a good vocalist, their music was not. The crowd screamed ‘get down’. A huge disappointment for an opening band for Iron Maiden.

Parikrama, another Indian rock band was next and oh Boy! They were amazing! With a powerful set of their own songs featuring exclusive violin and harmonica playing with the usual instruments, they gave a brilliant performance. The vocalist of Parikrama was a funny bald guy and his statements were purely revelatory. Their performance surely made us wonder why bands like them are not coming to Bangladesh to perform instead of the below standard performers from other South Asian countries.

The band left the crowd craving for more ballistic stuffs and the next band was surely an upset. It was Lauren Harris, the daughter of Iron Maiden’s bassist Steve Harris. She was chic, had great rock actions on stage, looked like a bomb but could not detonate. Let me rephrase, she might be the daughter of Harris but nowhere creative as her dad.

If darkness is the essence of Iron Maiden then WOAH! The lights were turned off and suddenly, Iron Maiden erupted with a blast. Thousand watts of lights shone on the band in front of the hugest backdrop of their latest album cover – A Matter of Life and Death. Relevant to mention, Iron Maiden's latest album reached number two in the Indian album charts after debuting at number four and that is why after seventeen years they decided to play a great gig in India.

The stage was smoking white while the arena became fogged of dust as head bangers moshed, rocked, cheered and hummed every lyric with power and aggression. The first numbers were from the latest album and they crashed everyone with nothing less than CD quality sound. These Colours Don't Run, Brighter Than a Thousand Suns were complete blast offs. They performed Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg, For the Greater Good of God and more with such performance that it metaphorically set everyone ablaze. Bruce Dickinson jumped, gave an energetic performance and proved that even being around the age of 50, Eddie (Bruce Dickinson) and the band can still kick some ass.

They performed some hugely anticipated classic numbers with flair. The stage rocked and the audiences moshed to Wrathchild, Trooper, Fear of the Dark, Runt to the Hills, Number of the Beast, 2 Minutes to Midnight and Hallowed Be Thy Name.

Eddie then suddenly presented the spectacular Tank Prop. A huge tank was raised on the stage and Bruce on top of it sang his heart out.

We also met several other Bangladeshis in the concert. It was a band of Blood Brothers set free in the land of demons and beasts as we enjoyed the show until the end. Eddie promised to come back again in South Asia and we were also thrilled to get the news that the Bangladeshi cricket team gave a fantastic performance in the World Cup. It was a win-win situation as some of us wearing the Bangladeshi cricket jerseys and holding our Flag up high marched through the streets of Bangalore cheering and singing Aces High. Most Indians came and congratulated on the Bangladesh team’s performance.
*This article is first published EXCLUSIVELY in The Daily NEW AGE's Glitz Magazine March 22'2007

Friday, March 9, 2007

A coral dream-house - a spontaneous trip to St. Martins Island, Bangladesh

A coral dream-house
Faizul Khan Tanim
takes a spontaneous trip to St. Martins Island and returns besotted by its beauty
photos by Md Nazrul Islam & Md Asif Ali

If you crave for a little bit of adventure, an impulsive trip that does not call for passport and visas, then touring Saint Martins Island might just be it. It is a small coral island in the northeast part of the Bay of Bengal, about nine to ten kilometres south of the tip of the Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf peninsula.
From what I have heard about the island in the past, a lot has changed. Now, there are hotels, towers (reception of cell phones absolutely clear), restaurants brimming with tourists, chit-chatter and the clattering noise of forks and spoons- in a nutshell, it is not at all a deserted place anymore. The white and grey sand dune, looking stunning under a bright sunshine, and plenty of breezes, still, however, preserves its natural feel.
The most thrilling part, though, is that there is no electricity, making every night a glorious experience. The stars become words, moon becomes the tune, and the atmosphere plays the composition.
Travelling in a group of five, we started our 510 km from Dhaka, unable to make any kind of bookings from the capital. From Chittagong we took the S Alam bus to Teknaf and from there, having missed the regular ferries, we resorted to the traditional seafarer, a trawler.
It takes almost two and half, to three hours to reach the island and the trawler ride can get bumpy at times.
The blue-green water at times looks like waves of emerald. Big boats, sea birds flying over, and hills around the coast while crossing the Naf River – it was a spellbinding initial 2 hours. As the trawler moved in to the sea, the waves started brewing up some bouncy fun. While most people put up brave front exclaiming ‘Whoaaa!’ at the most, I could see a few faces turn completely pale.
Reaching the island was a huge relief for those weak-hearted, but not for long. We soon discovered that all the rooms of all the hotels in the island were occupied, and thus we were left with no other option but to take a ten-man hotel tent costing Taka 1500 per day, just beside the shore.
It was lunch time. Arriving at the port we walked through a strip of basic restaurants along a cemented t-junction. The pomfret fish fry, shutki bhorta (mashed dry fish) with hot rice and pulses, onions, green chilli and sipping green coconut water – it was an amazing feast.
Walking by the beach in the island during the evening or playing beach volleyball can be very pleasant, while the nights can become extremely dreamy. One has to experience it to know how darkness can be beautiful – look up to find the stars glittering like never before or listen to folk tunes or the self-composed music of Abdur Rashid, who sits beside the beach tea stalls and sings his heart out. It is one of the catchiest entertainments of the island after dawn.
In the two-day trip, we were lucky to find the kite flying festival (ghuri utshob). The whole beachside sky was filled with beautiful kites. Tania Bulbul, a member of the Chobir Haat group from Dhaka said it was more a spur-of-the-moment decision than a planned event to arrange the Ghuri Utshob by members of Chobir Haat two years back. ‘This is the third year we came to this island for the occasion,’ she says. ‘We fly kites of different shapes, sizes and colours, and sketch them beforehand to make them aerodynamic.’
Furthermore, an interesting 30 minutes trawler journey was to this another island called Chhera Dweep. The island is definitely not torn as the name suggests and it is the one place to see the coral reefs and blue/green water and gigantic waves – an amazing scenic beauty.
In the beginning, we were sceptical of being inside a tent and by the end of it, however, we realised how wrong we were. There are outstanding nights once you step out of the tent - full of breeze, sea roar, the moon and glitzy stars and almost no mosquitoes. The experience, is simply beyond words. Listening to Kishore Kumar’s Sagar Kinare or Shagor er Oi Prantorey by Souls can add to the absolute exciting atmosphere of visiting the majestic waves of Bangladesh.

STEP 1 You can take any luxury coach service from Dhaka to Cox’s Bazar. It will cost you between Tk. 500 to Tk. 700.

STEP 2 You need to use local services like hiring a microbus or a minibus which will cost you around Tk. 70 to Tk 100 till the Steamer Ghat.

STEP 3 Book the big steamers which starts early morning costing Tk. 200 onwards or book a trawler (Tk. 3,000 onwards) anytime before 2:00 pm. Arrival at St. Martin’s Island from Teknaf takes around 2.5 hours in average and checking in at your hotel at St. Martin’s before dawn is important.

STEP 4 Hotels at St. Martins costs from Tk. 700 up to Tk. 1500 per room (2 person) each day and a Tent for accommodation of 10 individuals costs Tk. 1500.

See sunrise and sunset and photograph them
See Turtle Hatchery near Shimana Periye Resort
Scuba Dive in the clear waters. The Oceanic Scuba Dive Center is near the Naval Base
Walk the island by the side of the beach. Green coconut is sold at small intervals

* Food is relatively expensive
** Take lotions and sunscreen
#* This article was first published in The Daily New Age, Trends magazine Tuesday March 06'2007

Casting Tagore in a new light - Sahana Bajpaie releases her debut album

Casting Tagore in a new light - Sahana Bajpaie releases her debut album

By Faizul Khan Tanim

‘I am not originally a singer…I just sing because I love music’, said Sahana, at the launch of her début album, ‘Notun kore pabo boley’ earlier this week at the Bengal Gallery in Dhanmondi. Perhaps it was such humility that stirred the audience to listen even more avidly to her musical soirée. Her voice was pure magnetism and she blew away the audience with her live set of songs, mainly from the new album. When asked about the title of the album, she explained that it was because she sang ‘contemporary renditions of old classic songs, always discovering more and more layers to the songs as [she] worked’. Prof Firdous Azim of BRAC University, who hosted the inauguration ceremony, recalled emotionally how Sahana used to hum while wandering along the corridors of the English department and how magical it was to see the transformation from that casual singing to this beautiful album. Through her use of a variety of instruments including the guitar and esraaj, we have the impression that we, too, are rediscovering the words of Tagore. Sahana harbours a life-long love of Rabindranath Tagore. She has been singing his songs since childhood under the tutelage of her father who was a scholar of Tagore’s literature and music and she later went on to train at Santiniketan, in Indian classical singing and the songs of Tagore, under Swastika Mukherjee, Bijoy Sinha, and Chitra Roy. As a student she regularly took part in theatre and dance productions of works by Tagore. Speaking to the predominantly young members of the audience, the conclusion seemed unanimous: Sahana’s album will definitely encourage us to go back to our roots.

Boka Manushta is back with a BANG!

Boka Manushta is back with a BANG!

Sumon of Aurthohin is now a slim and happy man, healthier than ever. And, recently, he came back after a long break to release his 4th solo studio album – Boka Manushta -collaborating with 35 well-known artistes. Writes Faizul Khan Tanim

If you love listening to music in an ambience where words bask in a pool of tunes and compositions make each song brew like a cup of rich, frothy, creamy and delightful coffee mocha, then, this album could be your treat. Go ahead! Relax on your couch and hit the play button.
The album cover is different and can be funny at first sight – reminding us that Sumon lost a lot of weight.
To me, it’s more like a musical journal playing stories from different phases of his real life (trust the lyrics). The collaborating artists poured their vivid voices, exhilarating guitar riffs, solos, bass, keys and drum work. The result? A rich collection of songs with a long shelf life!
It took me several days to love the whole album but a few blew me away instantly. I mean, just check out the Gaanwala intro. Brilliant? A definite understatement!
As soon as the first verse comes: Ami gaanwala, gaan e gaan e din katai…it’s a stroll down memory lane, it’s nostalgic and you might just get addicted as the guitar playing by Chintu is soulful and Sumon’s vocal - vivacious.
Listen to Ghum ashena which is already a massive hit. A very fruity romantic song and both the vocalists – Sumon and Anila complemented each other with expressive singing. The song’s composition is good and easy to hum which gives a great ‘kick.’
As you cruise, Jhor kicks-off with a punchy riff and powerful drum beats. I could not stop head banging to the words – Khulbe badhon, dekhbo tokhon…ke shikar, ke shikari. Fuad did an amazing job producing this heavier track and proving his compositional skills. Sumon’s son Ahnaf sings the tranquil part in the middle of this war-song as if passing a peace message. Mukhta tuley amar dikey dakho ektibar, tomar shathey gaichi ami tomar shei gaan. Aynae takiye jokhon amar mukhta dekhi, thakey shethai akhonoje tomar protichhobi.
I always admired Shampa Reza for she has the sexiest voice of all. The duet Ke with Sumon therefore becomes a moving ballad with humble keyboards and flute.
The most interesting fact about the next song is that it generates affectionate expressions and sounds from girls. And, the reason? Sumon’s toddler girl Aurora sings a lullaby as the first verse. She sings it beautifully. Sumon also passes a significant message to his daughter through Ghumparani gaan – a beautiful reminiscence of the great classic Aye Khuku Aye.
Oops! Tahsan did it again! Yes, Protigga became a massive hit because of the appealing duet voices, the guitar pluck-in intro and the overall composition.
‘Why isn’t the world a perfect place? Why does everything around you looks like decoys and when can we get peace?’ asks Sumon as he, along with four vocalists and nine guitarists gives us a smashing hit Phoolgulo shob galo kothai? It needs to be mentioned that, everyone played with fantastic skills and sang with brilliant aggression. Every part fell in to spot…even Tanvyr’s thrash metal voice, Shifa’s death metal riffs up to Chintu’s very creative Latino style acoustic guitar outro solo.
Shesh probably brings an end to Sumon’s journal part one. The ending of a music video for this song can comfortably depict a smirk relaying: This is not the end, it’s a beginning!

*This article was first published in Glitz magazine of Daily New Age March 08 Thursday '07