Sarod, the 25-stringed North Indian classical instrument rich in resonances, plays well with others, but is best savored solo. Master player Alam Khan knows this, having studied at his father Ustad Ali Akbar Khan’s knee and taking up his style and lineage. On Immersion, he unfurls the instrument’s stirring beauty via several ragas, a tribute to his family’s accumulated knowledge and his own carefully honed artistic sense.
Khan is a respected teacher and collaborator, a torchbearer of the Maihar gharana (musical family or clan) which was created by his grandfather Acharya Baba Allauddin Khan. Khan absorbed these facets by training since childhood with his father, who brought the instrument and greater awareness of Indian classical music in general to American audiences in the ’60s. “My father was a legend and his style was unique. What he passed on to me was a deep sense of that style, the feeling, touch, tone, all those kinds of things. Once I learned to emulate what he wanted me to play, I learned the reasons behind why I’m playing that. My father has passed on, but I want to continue his aesthetic and approach.”
Part of that approach adheres to the essence of the raga and its connection to a particular time of day and mood. “Every raga was created for a certain time of day. When you play or listen to the ragas at the correct time, the full potential and wonder comes out,” he notes. “The traditional system of ragas and time is very important to my family and me.” Khan recorded Immersion as he would have performed live. He is accompanied by the traditional combination of Tabla (Indranil Mallick) and Tanpura (Khan’s student Benjamin Araki).