Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ustad Sultan Khan

One of the world's Music Masters, Ustad Sultan Khan, passed away a couple of days ago. He was a Sarangi player and an incredible vocalist. His voice really sang out. I had the great fortune to work with him with the band Tabla Beat Science, a group formed by Bill Laswell, Zakir Hussein and Karsh Kale in the late '90's. Sultan Khan contributed beautiful soaring melodies balancing out the rhythmic intensity of TBS and adding to it a whole new dimension. The power of this music seemed to authorize transcendence of all planetary limitations and mundane concerns. At least that's how I heard it most of the time.

Sultan Khan's contribution to the music of the world was put well in a bollywood obituary:

His demise has marked the end of an era. The ‘Sarangi’ will no longer produce the same tune. The sufi probably will not sound as mystical as it sounded when Ustad sang. The soulful voice will never be heard again. But, Ustad will remain singing forever in our hearts. The songs he gave us, will forever be treasured.

Sultan Khan was always a pleasure and very easy work with. He was relaxed and unassuming but knew exactly how he wanted to sound including the type and amount of reverb he wanted on his voice. One of the greats!


  1. WOW! I remember Tabla Beat Science very well: it was incredible psychedelic music!

    I saw Laswell and Zakir at UCLA around 1999; not sure if Ustad Sultan Khan was there; there were a lot of people on stage.

    I did not know Ustad Sultan Khan had died. May he RIP.

  2. I remember playing UCLA around 2002. Sultan Khan wasn't on that tour. He was replaced by 3 Classical Indian singers if I remember correctly- one reason there were so many onstage.