Album Review: Amjad Ali Khan et. al. — Music for Hope

Some music based on traditional instrumentation from outside North America (that’s my wordy way of sidestepping the dread “WM” descriptor) can sound a bit, erm, foreign to American ears. Not that this is a bad thing, but it can limit the appeal for new listeners. Music for Hope has no such difficulties. The five lengthy tracks are all accessible in the extreme. The music makes no concessions to Western/pop music values, but it somehow gets its way into the listener’s ears without the “strangeness” that sometime accompanies non-Western music.

Perhaps it’s the wide net cast by project leader Amjad Ali Khan. The sarod player is joined on all tracks by Wu Man, master of the pipa, a Chinese instrument of which I only learned a few years ago (a good friend of mine is also a master of the instrument). The combination of the pipa and Indian sarods and percussion adds up to something that is wonderfully hypnotic and accessible. The music stands up to close listening, and the cross-pollination of musical traditions results in music that underscores that old saw about music being the universal language. It truly is, and Music for Hope is Exhibit A.