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Sitar maestro Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan passes away at 90

Friday, January 06, 2017
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

"An outstanding sitar player, Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan, belonging to the traditional gharna happens to be the other musician (apart from myself and Vilayat Khan) who having mastered the technique and traditions is popular with connoisseurs as well as young Rasik listeners. I appreciate very much his virtuosity (tayyari), clarity and complete control of the instrument. I liked him as a person, his warmth, laughter and sense of humour," This tribute to sitar maestro Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan came from none other than his great contemporary, the celebrated sitarist Ravi Shankar.

Halim Jaffer Khan, as was known among his countless fans passed away at the ripe age of 90 at his Bandra Reclamation residence yesterday due to age-related ailments.

Halim Jaffer shot to fame as a classical musician when he performed the raga 'Chhayanat' which was broadcast on radio way back in 1952. It was rare for a young musician who was merely 25 years old to get the prize assignment in the form of a National Programme of Music. 'Chhayanat' is a raga with complex note movement which is the reason it is not attempted by sitarists. The fluidity with which Khan saheb played the raga not only delighted the listeners but also compelled elder musicians to sit up and take notice of his formidable talent. From then onward, he never looked back. He emerged as a sitar player with his own individual identity.

Khan saheb dominated the instrumental music scene from 1950 to 1980. His performances were highly rated and appreciate. He engaged Carnatic musicians like Emani Shankar  in duets and also played an interactive programme with the Jazz musician Dev Brubek.

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