Best of 2019 #50: Shahbaz Hussain and Helen Anahita Wilson – “DIWAN”


The backdrop for this recording is the kind of thing that floats my boat.  A fortunate series of coincidences brought tabla player Shahbaz Hussain and pianist Helen Anahita Wilson together for this session, and their backgrounds in South Asian and contemporary classical, jazz, and devotional music are both separate and yet complementary to one another.  There is plenty of intrigue generated by this project before the first note is ever recorded.  But all of that fell by wayside the moment I became immersed in their dynamic conversations, back and forth, and felt the resulting serenity wash over me.  The rhythmic element of DIWAN has a gravitational pull that borders on irresistible, and it’s easy to see why it might receive the most attention.  But the way in which immaculately crafted melodies are set free upon the surface of those rhythms, and how they attain a momentum all their own before taking off into flight is about as exhilarating as it gets.  The conclusion of any one year brings two lists:  There’s the formal Best Of list, which methodically attempts to measure albums for their quality, significance and endeavor, and then, also, my personal Favorites list, a far more subjective encapsulation of those recordings that made my heart swoon, my soul dance, and my body channel the motion of the music.  The ranking of this recording for the former list is in the title of this post; As to the latter, DIWAN easily earns a spot on the top ten list of my favorite recordings of 2019.

Your album personnel:  Shahbaz Hussain (tabla) and Helen Anahita Wilson (piano).

Released on Golden Girl Records.

Music from Brighton and Rochdale, UK.

I wrote about this album for The Bandcamp Daily.

Listen | Read more | Available at:  BandcampAmazon