Thursday, June 14, 2007

Maq's Back with Bauliana

At the very first impression, it looked like a mere Books & VCD launching program in the afternoon at the Russian Cultural Centre Auditorium on the 4th of June. But gradually it became evident that even such a program could turn out to be quite a cultural show, concentrating on musical exuberance, art, literature, handicrafts and fashion.

The flavor of the main event was never subdued anyway, rather the events that followed added something extra-ordinary to it unlike other arrangement of the same genre. Reasons were pretty much obvious.

First of all, concerned audience and media people gathered with an interest to learn more about the first ever book by Maqsoodul Haque, the ex Feed Back vocalist and founder of the band named Dhaka.

Secondly, they experienced a different sort of musical recitation by poet Shams Monower whose poetical work was formally released along with Maq's first publication Bauliana, Worshipping the Great God in Man.

There was band music, a makeshift stall exhibiting different souvenir items, artwork, designer wear, ornaments, books and CDs produced by the creative Media house Ink Mark. Ink Mark dress and accessories were donned by some models who carried out a mini ramp, in between musical performance. The audience were entertained with some refreshments.

But it was Maq and his band Dhaka who stole the show in the end. The program began with an introduction on the books, VCDs to be released, on the activities of Ink Mark.

Mr. Nurul Kabir, Editor of the Daily New Age was cordially asked to get on the stage to uncover the Books and VCDs. Musical videos titled, `Topoddhoni' by Shams featuring his off-the-trend sort of recital (a bit like Mark Knopfler stuff) and the `Best of Ink Mark` composed by promising artists and musicians discovered by the media house, were launched alongside.

Mr. Nurul Kabir, Maqsoodul Haque and Shams Monower spoke at the occasion to express their feelings.

The cultural part began with a video presentation of different tracks from the released two musical video. The presentation featured Avilash, Nahid and Shams Monower; followed by a power point presentation on Ink Mark. Then was the crunch part, live performance. The Ink-Mark artiste rendered a number of songs, followed by a colorful mini fashion show as the models exhibited exclusive designer wears and ornaments.
As Shams came on the stage and performed his stuff audience appreciated him with applause, though Shams could hardly be clearly heard as his instrumentalists played with him. Then it was all Maqsoodul Haque till the end for an exciting 30-minute stand. Starting with Rashik Aamar Mon Bandhia Pinjor Banaichey in his own stylized mode he rendered Aaj Tomar Chithi, Dhonnobad Hey Valobasha and other popular numbers. The audience waited nearly two hours for Maq'd performance and they went mad as the virtuoso rendered 6 songs stole the show.

While the program ran, there was a makeshift stall exhibiting along with the newly released books and VCD for sale and display. Organizer of the program specially thanked Cool Exposure for their support in arranging the event successfully.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ink Mark launches 2 books

Ink Mark, a publishing house, on Monday launched two books and two music videos at the Russian Cultural Centre in the city.

The books are Bauliana, a collection of essays in English on Baul music by musician Maqsoodul Haque, and Sadhoker Rangathala, a collection of Bangla poems by Shams Monower.

The New Age editor, Nurul Kabir, uncovered the books and the music videos, titled Topoddhoni and Best of Ink Mark.

‘Maqsoodul and Shams are two talents in their respective fields. Their works attract me and I take pleasure in presenting the two creative talents before the people,’ Nurul Kabir told the function, adding, ‘I have found expressions of honest feelings and thinking in the poems of Shams. His choice of words and the command over Bengali have convinced me that he really has a devotion to his vocation as a poet.’ The books are priced at Tk 100 each and the videos at Tk 50.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fifteen essential albums according to Maqsoodul Haque

Former Feedback vocalist Maqsoodul Haque (Mac) who trailblazed Dhaka’s music scene since the late seventies tells Faizul Khan Tanim about the 15 essential albums that makes him the perfect Big Mac of today

‘Fifteen essential albums!’ exclaimed Mac. However, he continued with a giggle, ‘this could be an interesting interview. I can finally let people know of the songs I grew up with.’ ‘Bob Marley was a new and significant phenomenon back then. The late 1960’s and early 1970’s belonged to rock music and I was hooked to Deep Purple, AC/DC, Jeff Beck, The Who and more. Then suddenly, came this weird but beautiful music called Reggae from Jamaica and, there stood Bob Marley. Bob and his band, The Wailers from the Caribbean went to the UK and got the biggest and best sound system called “Rolling Stone” to record LIVE and on location. What stood out most about this man was that he instantly touched me with the intensity of his lyrics. Bands recording from the first world nation were only singing about their life and culture but here was this man whose songs and lyrics were about the third world, and one I belonged to and that gave me an emotional connection to his numbers. Therefore, amongst his albums Rastaman Vibration, Exodus and Babylon by Bus were interesting, passionate and rebellious. The first two albums received rave reviews like ‘best albums in the history of mankind’ while Babylon by Bus was his last album which covers his tour from New Zealand until his collapse in Central Park, New York,’ Mac added.

Mac continued and talked about an early 80’s band called Steely Dan and added that, of their albums The Royal Scam and Gaucho simply stood out for him. ‘Donald Fagen was a member of Steely Dan but later went on to make his solo albums. In 1982 came his first album The Nightfly (which was nominated for a Grammy) and at that time, it was regarded as one of the best-recorded albums by the Rolling Stone magazine,’ observed Mac and added that another of his personal favourite albums by Donald is Kamakiriad. ‘With very powerful lyrics and awe-inspiring instrumentation, the album was mind blowing. Everything about these records was different and beautiful. The most amazing thing about the title Kamakiriad was that it was given to a car, which the Japanese will make in 2050 and Donald Fagen made the music for that car and named it Kamakiriad,’ added Mac.
Mac then stopped for a moment to take a breath, smiled as if recollecting memories from the past and continued. ‘There was a new sound coming in the end of 1970’s and early 1980’s. Rock the Casbah album by The Clash was rebel music. Three guitars and bass guitar only, with no keyboards, created this new wave sound. They actually gave direction to many new bands at that time and some say they were the predecessors of The Police.’ Mac also informed that sometimes they used horns to give distinctive sound and extra flavour to their songs.

Mac added, ‘Rockin’ Down The Highway by Doobie Brothers was a combination of American country blues, funk and many other interesting influences – the songs became very atmospheric with the very up-to-the-minute-element sound.’ In 1996, Mac released his album Bauliana, the first folk fusion album in Bangladesh. But, what inspired that fantastic album? Mac narrated the story of Jai Uttal and The Pagan Love Orchestra and their album Beggars and Saints in 1994, which Mac terms as his ‘reference point’. That was his reference point for his exploration into Baul, folk fusion and heritage music that showed him the way and, songs like Gopala and Menoka from Beggars and Saints touched him. The interesting fact for Mac was that the band featured a white man singing Bangla Baul song, who experimented with rich Indian culture and music.
‘The ultimate socio-cultural activism guru for me would be Gil Scott-Heron and I found a lot of similarity with my way of thinking and him. His lyrics were very no-nonsense, apolitical and to the point. It actually taught me to be a visionary, and much of my work in Prapto Boyeshker Nishiddo was because of Gil’s influence. His album The Revolution Will Not Be Televised in 1974 was outstanding. Many rappers until this date looks upon him as a father figure. In 1990, his album Tales of Gil Scott-Heron and his Amnesia Express and Spirits in 1994 were total jazz albums and there is only one word to describe them – remarkable!’ said Mac in an emotional tone.

Mac explained how a new horizon of music begun when the sounds of violin and guitar clashed to produce something magical. Shakti was a group which came in the early 1970’s and played acoustic fusion music which combined Indian music with elements of jazz; probably the earliest practitioner of the musical genre of world fusion. Its leading members were the celebrated musicians like English guitar player John McLaughlin, the Indian violin player L. Shankar, Tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain, flautist Ustad Hariprasad Chaurasia and other renowned musicians. Their first debut album Shakti, released in the mid 1970’s actually taught Mac how to appreciate rich eastern music forms, especially Raagas.

Looking at his watch Mac said, ‘ok, one more to go!’ ‘I think its Billy Joel’s album 52nd Street from 1999, which had a massive impact on me. I got so inspired by the album and its music especially the track, Honesty that I sang a Bangla version of the song and named it Bhirumon. The album is filled with great compositions and it’s a total album of defined music and quite often, termed as one of the world’s most recommended albums.’
*This article was first published in Glitz section of Extra, the Daily New Age June 01 2007 Posted by tanim-butpar at