1942-89; Delhi tradition

Latif Ahmed Khan was one of my favourite players, and his recordings for the BBC in the 1970s with the sitar player Imrat Khan. He learned from the Delhi musicians Gameh Khan and his son Inam Ali Khan. Latif had a clarity of tone that was very exciting, and more than most tabla players of his day he relished the opportunity to improvise (much rarer in drumming than most people think). His peshkar openings became very long and drawn out, often beginning sparsely, continuing with many changes in rhythmic density along the way, and ending in an electrifying burst of bols some ten to fifteen minutes later. He told me once that he was inspired by the alaps of vocal and instrumental performance, and treated his own peshkars as the equivalent of an alap in which the gamut of tone colours and stroke combinations were gradually revealed. Latif died in 1989: he had destroyed his health with alcohol

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