Home » Stories » Sachal Ensemble set for US tour this Fall / BroadwayWorld

Top 10 for Dec

Sachal Ensemble set for US tour this Fall / BroadwayWorld

Bookmark and Share

A jazz song from the late-50s, an Oxford-educated financial advisor and a group of once-celebrated but unemployed musicians -- some of whom no longer even owned an instrument -- are not the standard ingredients from which global hits are made. But then the story of the Sachal Ensemble, from Lahore, Pakistan, is anything but standard.

The 10-piece group, touring the United States for the first time this October / November, combines conventional Western instruments (such as piano, bass, drums) with traditional Pakistani ones, such as tabla, dholak (a two-headed hand drum) and sarangi, a bowed string instrument. Its repertoire on this tour will mix traditional Sufi music, ragas and beloved Pakistani film songs (such as " Ranjha Ranjha," from the movie Raavan) with uniquely South Asian spins on Western classics, including The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts," Michel Legrand's "The Windmills of Your Mind," and, of course, their highly distinctive take on Dave Brubeck's hit "Take Five," a video of became a YouTube hit with over 1 million views. The international sensation created by the Brubeck "Take Five" video led to, among other things, an invitation in 2013 for the Sachal Ensemble to collaborate with trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. The musicians' extraordinary journey from Lahore to Lincoln Center was captured in Song of Lahore, a documentary film by two-time Academy Award-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken. A U.S. album release soon followed on Universal Music Classics, also titled Song of Lahore, (May 20, 2016) produced by Grammy Award-winner Eli Wolf and featuring the Sachal Ensemble collaborating with a diverse group of artists including Wynton Marsalis, Meryl Streep, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Nels Cline of Wilco, Madeleine Peyroux and Sean Lennon. A recent Pakistan-only release, titled Jazz and All That, includes the ensemble's striking versions of Brubeck's "Blue Rondo A La Turk," and songs such as Stevie Wonder's "You've Got It Bad Girl", Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Wave" and Henry Mancini's "The Pink Panther."