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Artist:Shabaz featuring Riffat Sultana & Sukhawat Ali Khan


  • Genres: World 

 “The message is peace and freedom.
If you say it nicely with music, people will get it.”

Comprised of a brother-sister singing duo Sukhawat Ali Khan and Riffat Sultana with producer/guitarist Richard Michos, this innovativegroup is based in the Bay Area but has a sound straight out of the Sub-Continent. Both siblings were trained in Indian Classical, and Qawaali, which is a traditional Pakistani singing style. Their voices complement each other perfectly, at times becoming indistinguishable. This makes perfect sense when one considers that the two singers have been studying and singing together since childhood. Music runs in the family; their legendary father, was one of the people to introduce Indian Classical music to the world in the '60s. However, the latest generation seeks to not only introduce the world to thier traditional music, but also to combine the music with Western styles such as hip-hop and rock. They succeed due to two major factors: location and production. Michos understands the music and he worked wonders on the first album, Taswi, and then proceeded to outdo himself with Zindagi. Both albums were successful with East Indian expats and Left Coast underground scenesters. Shabaz performs all over the world at festivals and concerts. However, San Francisco is still their home and when they are not touring, it's not unusual to see them up on-stage at the Great American music Hall or another mid-sized venue. The band is known for delivering a studio-quality performance on-stage, thanks in large part to the showmanship of frontman Ali Khan and the expert leadership of Michos. No matter how many instruments are on-stage or how many sweaty enthusiasts in the audience, Shabaz manages to make a show seem entertaining and intimate at the same time. ~ L. Katz, All Music Guide





Shabaz isn't so much one band as two -- or one band with two different names. Vocalists Sukhawat Ali Khan and his sister Riffat Salamat joined with multi-instrumentalist and producer Richard Michos in 1997. Michos has been studying Indian music and ragas with Khan and his father, the famed Indian classical singer Ustad Salamat Ali Khan (a man who at one time had taught the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and had a formidable reputation in his own right). Michos and Sukhawat Ali Khan began working together acoustically under the name the Ali Khan Band. However, a band is exactly what they weren't. That didn't happen until a DJ, Cheb i Sabbah, asked them to open for him in a show in their native San Francisco at the Fillmore. For that they needed to go electric, and did, a turning point from which they've never looked back. Over the next couple of years the trio refined their sound, until releasing their 1998 debut, Taswir, on the local City of Lights label. Michos brought the studio expertise, and his rock guitar background, to a disc that blended dancefloor-programmed beats and samples with rock music and vocals that ranged from Indian classical to qawwali to some that moved beyond easy classification, adding rapping, pedal steel guitar, and even a didgeridu to the mix. The album was successful, rising on world music charts, and the band opened for such major stars as King Sunny Ade and Femi Kuti. Two years later came Zindagi, which followed its predecessor into the charts, but more adventurous, adding bhangra and hip-hop to the burgeoning list of styles that worked with Indian classical music -- the band would also sometimes take one of Khan Sr.'s classical pieces and put it to a fur-beat with a groove. However, in 2001 they changed labels, signing with Mondo Melodia, and decided to change their name to avoid confusion with other Ali Khans out there, most specifically the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It was a dangerous move, having built up a reputation under one moniker, to drop it and start afresh, but they were willing to try. In August 2001 they released their eponymous "new" debut, which featured a pair of tracks, "Raga" and "Queenie's Jam," which were recorded in May of the year, when they were invited by labelhead Miles Copeland to take part in a recording week at Chateau Marat in France with a number of other artists, including American musician/producer Narada Michael Walden, British electronica duo Zohar, and Egyptian singer

Hakim. ~ Chris  Nickson, All Music Guide



Shabaz has performed at numerous venues worldwide including 

 Montreal Jazz Festival- We Are The Future (Rome)-The Fillmore San Francisco-Toronto Jazz-Temple bar Los Angeles-Grand Performances Los Angeles-Beloved Festival Oregon-Paris France Outdoors Fest-Chicago Festival of Colors-San Diego Street Scene-Dhamaal Club 6 SF-Eugene Oregon-Saskatoon Music Festival-World Music Festival Lahore-Getty Museum Los Angeles-UC Santa Barbara Multicultural Theatre-UCLA-High Sierra Music Festival-Harbin Hot Springs-Chicago Folk Music School-Kennedy Center Washington DC-US Tour for Imran Khan Cancer Foundation Lahore Pakistan-Lincoln Center outdoor series-Central Park Summer Stage-Health& Harmony Festival Santa Rosa CA.-Levitt Pavilion Pasedena-Slims SF-Detroit Arab museum-De young museum SF


::: SHABAZ :::
an incredibly rich synthesis of Qawwali, jazz fusion, rap, and Bhangra
featuring 2 of the most powerful voices in Qawwali today, Riffat Sultana Ali Khan
and her brother Sukhawat w/ the extraordinary instrumentalist Richard Michos and ensemble


  Formerly the Ali Khan Band, Shabaz are actually part of an eleven-generation continuum: the brother and sister duo at the heart of the band are the children of the great classical singer Salamat Ali Khan, and their lineage reportedly extends back to court singers for Akbar the Great. Sukhawat and Riffat joined with Riffat's husband Richard Michos, a guitarist and producer, to use their classical training in new settings. The resulting fusion of jazz, Hindustani classical, rock and electronica has caught the ears of luminaries like DJ Cheb I Sabbah, among others.

  Sarah Bardeen 

This group recorded previously with the name Ali Khan, putting out two CDs for the small City of Tribes label, both of which are excellent. Here they continue their odyssey, this time infusing their native Indian and Pakistani songs with a more substantial dose of studio and dancefloor rhythms than on the prior two releases.  Most of the material is written by the group, but there is one traditional Pakistani song which is given a modern treatment. The group makeup is Pakistani and American. On this album, they are joined by musicians outside the band who include (among others) Narada Michael Walden (keyboards), the well-known Indian violinist Ramesh Mishra, and even the Latin percussionist Candido on two tracks. As was true on the last two albums, Richard Michos and John Steiner supply the keyboard work, and the vocals are performed by the supple voices of Sukhawat Ali Khan and Riffat Sultana.  An excellent worldbeat album--vibrant, infectious, soothing, and seductive.