With my band Alter Ego no longer active, the only music I make these days are infrequent noodling with GarageBand. You can listen to them here. (But, really, why would you even want to?)
Three Little Birds (with far flung friends)
A song of hope, a labor of love, a way to connect with friends flung far and wide in these times of uncertainty.
It started with a messenger exchange with Razab about doing something fun and uplifting while stuck at home. And within two days, friends in 7 cities sent in mp3 files of their parts.
You can download the song here.
Bidrohi (with Alter Ego)
More than a year after my brother died, I finally mustered up the strength to sort through the files Shubho had in the computer in his music room. It's full of song snippets -- riffs, improvisations, ideas for melodies, unfinished songs. Needless to say it's a draining experience going through them, picturing him sitting in that swivel chair with his red Ibanez, recording layer upon layer on GarageBand, trying to get that perfect tone that he always complained eluded him. Buried among the mp3s were enough rehearsal footage to make a video of "Bidrohi," perhaps his favorite among the tracks he wrote. So here it is, a year too late - but at what an apt time. The title, and the song, is about those who rebel.
Dola (with Alter Ego)
Our interpretation of a classic Bangla song by the iconic social commentator Bhupen Hazarika.
Bhupen, a musician and film-maker from Assam, died in November 2011, but left behind a remarkable canon of songs about justice, universal brotherhood and the plight of the poor.
"Dola," or palanquin, is told from the perspective of the impoverished porters who carried their royal load up steep winding hills, while contrasting the riches within to the destitution around them.
For generations, this social order has been the norm, the song says -- before adding this veiled warning: "Hothat kandher theke pichliye jodi pore aar dola jabe nako tola" ("But if the palanquin were to suddenly slip from our shoulder, it won't be so easy to steady it.")
Our thanks to Matt and Hiron on tenor sax; Laurent on baritone sax; and Rasha on backing vocals.
Boshonto batashe (with Alter Ego)
Our interpretation of a popular Bangla folk song by Baul legend Shah Abdul Karim.
Karim, who died at 93 in 2009, wrote and composed more than 1,500 songs and was awarded the Ekushey Padak, one of the highest civilian honors in Bangladesh.
The influence of Baul music on Bengali culture in considerable, and in 2005, the Baul tradition was included in the list of "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO.
Baul music celebrates divine love, but does so in earthly terms.
Among those who drew inspiration from the form is Nobel Prize-winning Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. And, of course, us -- a group of Bangladeshi musicians in Atlanta, Ga.
Ichchera khela kore
Brian's a reporter for Bloomberg whom I met during a journalism fellowship to China. But he's also a damn good guitarist. So obviously, we had to collaborate. This is the result of our Atlanta/DC long distance, email and iMessage facilitated recording sessions. Click for the video, stay for the solos. Thanks to Ranu Hafiz from whose book a trip the words. So happy with the final product.
Boshonter shaathe aari (with Razab)
Razab Quasem Chowdhury and I have been friends since middle school, and musical collaborators since our freshman year in college. Twenty two years later (and despite the obstacles of distance and obligations), we've kept at it off and on.
Starting last year, when he started making weekly trips to Atlanta for a work project, we've been trying to squeeze some time to get together, sometimes in my man-cave and sometimes in his hotel suite, to work on some new tunes and polish old ones.
This two-minute ditty is the result of one such hotel-suite session.
Osheem asha (with Alter Ego)
The title track of Alter Ego's only album, Osheem Asha, which translates to 'Infinite Hope.' The song was written, composed and animated by my brother, Shabbir. You can stream the album on Spotify
Jadukathi (with Alter Ego)
We have the greatest friends in the world! Who else would go to such lengths to learn a song in a foreign language and then act silly on camera to bring it to life? Much much thanks to everyone who helped make this the most fun we've had making a video!