Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan

Daring innovator and pioneer of the Jafferkhani Baaj in sitar playing, Padmabhushan Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan was an indelible part of India's sitar trinity comprising Ustad Vilayat Khan and Pt. Ravi Shankar. He hails from the Bande Ali Khan - Indore Beenkar Gharana and received tutelage from his father Jaffer Khan, a well known singer, sitarist and beenkar. He has been a distinguished All India Radio Artist since the early 1940's being credited with bringing Carnatic ragas such as Kirwani, Kanakangi, Latangi, Karaharapriya, Manavati, Ganamurti and others into the sitar repertoire, rendering them through a Hindustani sensibility and the distinct Jafferkhani Baaj style. 

Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan was the first Hindustani musician to collaborate with the Carnatic tradition in a performance with Veena maestro Dr. Emani Sankara Sastri. In 1958, he collaborated with Jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck for a rare performance with the Dave Brubeck Quintet which was part of Brubeck's Jazz Ambassador residency in India. That memorable collaboration, Brubeck stated in an interview with Jazz Journal International, made him "play in a different way". Khan also collaborated with noted English guitarist Julian Bream in 1963. Always seeking to break ground in a firmly established system, Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan's early experimentation with polytonality in Indian classical instrumentation was acheived in his sitar quintet. 

Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan bequeathed an invaluable musical legacy to the history of Indian cinema. He composed and played for epic films as Anarkali, Mughal - e - AzamJhanak Jhanak Payal BaajeGoonj Uthi Shehnai and Kohinoor to name a few. He collaborated with renowned music directors as Naushad, Anil Biswas, Vasant Desai, D. P. Korgaonkar, Shri. Ramachandra and Madan Mohan. 

In 1976, Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan established the Halim Academy of Sitar where he, and now his son, the sitarist and composer Zunain Khan have been teaching sitar to students from all over the world. He released Jafferkhani Baaj: Innovation in Sitar Music, as an introduction to his perspective on music, innovations and unique playing style. 

Sitar Innovator, National Awardee, Tagore Ratna, Composer, Innovator, Music

"It was probably in 1955-56. In the stillness of the night, I heard the notes of Raga Chaayanat on the sitar emanate from my neighbor's radio. I immediately noticed that the tone of the sitar was completely different and the style of playing radically unique. I rushed to switch on my radio.... I was totally engrossed, very curious to know who this maestro was." ~ Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma 


His influence made me play in a different way...although Hindustani scales, melodies and harmonies are different, we understood each other.” ~Jazz Legend Dave Brubeck on his encounter with Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan