The idea of Jugalbandi (duet) perhaps was born out of the curiosity of both the artist and listeners to see how a certain star or style fares in relation to another. The modern day jugalbandi is a ‘duel with a difference‘ in that it is a highly positive and creative exercise, born of the great degree of mutual respect between the players. The object is primarily to create synergy of sound in a celebration of the solidity of structure in Indian classical music which enables two perfect strangers to come together before an audience and make music together on the spot. For the listener however, it cannot be denied that the spirit of competition between titans is of great attraction. Perhaps, it is this which makes jugalbandi the most popular concert format in comtemporary times.
Sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan had a minor, but distinguished, presence as a jugalbandi artist. During the 1950’s he did several memorable concerts with the sarod maestro, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, whom he admired immensely. During the 1960s, he released two LPs of duets with his brother, Ustad Imrat Khan, on the surbahar. Thereafter, the sitar-surbahar duet of the brothers was also featured sporadically on the concert circuit. Starting from the 1980s, Vilayat Khan occasionally performed duets with his son, Shujaat Khan, on the surbahar.
Raga Khamaj – Alap : (Download)
By far the most durable, and also successful, partnership Ustad Vilayat Khan enjoyed was with the Shehnai maestro, Ustad Bismillah Khan. It was a reflection of their mutual affection and respect, as much as their parity in stature and compatibility as musicians. Their concerts were always sold out, and their recordings are prized collector’s items.
Raga Khamaj – Gat in Keharva Tal Part 1 : (Download)
Raga Khamaj – Gat in Keharva Tal Part 2 : (Download)
Raga Khamaj – Gat in Keharva Tal Part 3 : (Download)
Notice the excellent rapport between the two maestros, and the ecstasic and electrifying built-up towards the end. Ustad Vilayat Khan also sings in the above compositions. Accompanying them on the tabla is Sabir Khan.