Mustafa Ali Jat – Umer Aandhi Maarvi

Tradition of Bheth came a very long way to enable usto listen to it embodied in person of Mustafa Ali Jat. Bheth was originally the music of Jat Muslims, who brought it from Iran via Pakistan to Kutch region in India. Jat Muslims were maldhari (cattle herders) and their main occupation besides breeding was processing milk and trading its products. Mustafa Ali Jatand his groups are continuing that tradition, but it is the rare style of music they mastered, that makes them exceptional. Theyperform during weddings, funerals and festivals in Gujarat and Bheth compositions are sung autonomously or combinedwithother types of music characteristic for Kutch region.

The inspiration of Mustafa lies in ‘Shah Jo Risalo’ — a XVIII-century Sufipoetry compilation, which has been passed orally in many communities as an ‘ocean’ of themes by presenting 36 basic stories or moods conveying mystical ideas, symbols and beautiful love stories.The main accompanying instrument of Bheth –Surnado — is the last instrument of this kind in India. Its base is made from only one piece of wood shaped precisely in curves. Its top is crafted intricately, and for strings hair from a horse’s tailis used. Surando is said to be very demanding to master and Osman Jat, a truck driver by profession, may be the last one of its instrumentalists. The trickof playing Surando lies in the ability to play the same melody to create continuous milieu for the vocals. Others instruments used are Ghada (earthern pot used previously to attract deers) and Ghunghroos (ankle bells).

Mustafa’s longing, sonorous, but powerful voice combined with successive playing of the same melody on Surando creates the atmosphere of intimate spiritual experience.Innocent and true spiritof Mustafa expressed ancient philosophical talesmakes the performance delicate yet touching deepest strings of the soul.

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