Abdul Aziz Kunji Markar, best known as Aziz Naza (or Nazan) (हिन्दी - अज़ीज़ नाज़ां) (7th May 1938 – 8 October 1992) was an international fame singer. He is particularly remembered for the genre known as Qawwali.
Background :- He was born in Mumbai in a prominent Malabari (Kerala) muslim family. His family, having fundamental muslim faith, did not like music, as music is considered as evil in Islam. But he was so passionate about music so he continued it secretly. Every time he was traced singing by his family members, he was punished badly, but he didn’t give up, and continued his singing career. He lost his father at an early age of 9 . After that he joined Orchestra and began to sing the songs of Lata Mangeshkar. After some time he joined the famous Qawwal, “Hame to loot liya mil ke husn walon ne” fame Ismail Azad’s party as a chorus singer. Gradually he got a recognition as an individual qawwal. He signed a contract with The Gramophone Co. Ltd. In 1958.
Success:- In 1962 his record “Jiya nahin maana” was released and became a big hit. With this album he found a significance as a famous Qawwal. In 1968 his record “Nigah e Karam” was released and it became a great hit among Qawwali fans. But he got the real success in 1970, when his all time great hit “Jhoom Barabar jhoom sharabi” was released by Columbia Music Co. and all the records of success were broken by this number. In 1973 film “Mere gharib nawaz” was released. In the middle of the film, a 20 minute reel of Aziz Naza, singing his number “Jhoom barabar” was shown. , because of this number film “Mere gharib nawaz” got significant success. In 1974 I.S. Johar added the song “Jhoom barabar jhoom sharabi” in his film “5 Rifles” and this too was a great hit. In a sponsored program of Radio Ceylon, “Binaca geet mala” Jhoom barabar jhoom sharabi was at number one for several weeks.
Jhoom Barabar jhoom sharabi was the turning point of the career of Aziz Naza. After this great hit Aziz naza became a big name as a playback singer also. He sang in many films there after like Rafoo cakkar (1975), Fakira (1976), Laila Majnu (1976), Nehle pe dehla (1976), and Trishna (1978) to name a few of them. In Trishna he acted in a special appearance and song “Husn wale kisi ke yaar nahin hote hain” was picturised on him.
Learning Music :- In his early life he used to go to the house of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahab, who lived in the same area of Bhendi Bazar, Many of the Ustads of the Indian classical music gathered at his house every day. Aziz Naza used to listen to them singing or playing, and of course learned a lot from them. After he got fame, he became shagird of Mohd. Ibrahim Khan Sahab, younger brother of music director Ghulam Mohd. And assistant of music director Naushad, and he began to take regular lessons of music.
After some time he got a chance to learn music from veteran music director Rafiq Ghaznavi, who was the Ustad of music director Madan Mohan, Ghulam Mohd. And also his Ustad Mohd. Ibrahim Khan.
He had a talent to sing classical music and to play many instruments like harminium, tabla, bongo etc. He had a good sense of rhythm.
Shairi :- Aziz Naza was a malabari. He was from Kerala, his mother tongue was Malyalam and he got his institutional qualification in Gujrati mediam, but to sing Qawwali he had to learn Urdu, so he learned Urdu from a Shair named Sadiq Nizami. The sense of poetry was a god’s gift to him. He had a huge library of Urdu books of poetry, and every month obtained 50-60 new books from India, and from Pakistan as well. He was a member of lots of literary magazines. Many shairs such as Bashir Badr, Makhmoor Saeedi, Meraj Faizabadi, Krishn Bihari Noor Lakhnavi, Wali Aasi, Waseem Barelvi, Munawwar Rana and Muzaffar Warsi etc. were his close friends. Though in his recorded albums he mostly sang the songs of Qaisar Ratnagirvi, Hasrat Roomani and Nazan Sholapuri, but for stage performance most of the time he selected nice but difficult ghazals. He had learnt a lot of shers by heart. He himself was a nice poet.
Music Direction :- He composed and directed music of all of the nonfilm Qawwalies he sang. His created music which was beyond the tradition of the Qawwali, so he got the title “Baghi Qawwal” or “The Rebel Qawwal”. Even Several times he composed music for the sake of his friendship.
In four films, “Palki”, “Ram aur Shyam”, “Sathi” and “Sangharsh” he assisted music director Naushad.
In 1980 he composed and directed music for the film “Pyar ke rahi” produced by Atmaram.
Qawwal Association :- In 1983 he organized all the Qawwals of bombay city and thus “the Bombay Qawwal Association” came into being. . But later due to his illness and afterwards his death the association broked down.
Video Recordings :- In year 1986 during his America and Canada tour he recorded his first official video with Esquire video co. After that Startrack video co. released his 20 minute reel which ran in the middle of the film “Mere Gharib Nawaz” in the form of video cassette, and Al-Mansoor videos of Dubai released his Dubai show of 1984 as a video cassette.
Later life :- In 1978 his wife died. In 1982 HMV released one more of his all time great hit “Chadhta Sooraj” but after that he ended his contract with HMV due to some dispute. In 1985 he married a Hindu girl and named her as Mumtaz Naza. In the same year he signed a contract with Venus cassettes and tapes Ltd. And recorded his first album for this company named “Hangama”. He did total four albums with Venus cassettes and tapes Ltd. which are “Hangama” (1985), “Shan e Khwaja”(1989), “Hamd naat salam” (1990) and “Main nashe mein hoon” (1992). “Main nashe mein hoon” was his last recording.
Illness and Death :- He was never addicted to alcohol or any drug, but he was very fond of good food, and he never controlled the urge to have it. He was a diabetic and his passion for food affected his health very badly. He fell ill in 1992, and on 8th October 1992 he passed away from this mundain world.
Musical style :-
Influencecs :- He was very much inspired by the veteran Qawwal Ismail Azad’s style of singing and composing the music, in his childhood. In his early career he followed him, but soon he developed his qwn style and his style got a significance with time. Later he was inspired by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahab and Ustad Salamat Khan Sahab and he gave a classical touch to the Qawwali singing.
He had a very strong memory and remembered thousands of shers by heart. Besides this he could recall them, when needed.
Innovations :- in 1960s he composed songs based on various classical ragas. Most of his compositions were so advanced that for years these were followed by the other musicians and music directors. In 1969 he made composition of “Jhoom barabar jhoom sharabi” and in an era when Qawwali was based only on tabla and harmonium, he introduced western instruments like mandolin, bass guitar, congo, bongo, wind instrumental section and toms to Qawwali. besides this he introduced new rhythm patterns and tough challenging music parts and music arrangement to the Qawwali.
In 1971 he introduced western 4/4 in kehrwa and congo kick and duggi’s combination in his famous song “Masti mein aa piye jaa”, which was later followed by many of great music directors. He also used electric guitar and electronic sound effect first time in this qawwali song. In 70s and 80s Kalyan ji, R.D. Burman and Bappi Lahiri used electronic sounds in their music, but Aziz Naza used them in the beginning of 70s, which is talked about even now.
In 1980 his famous song “Chadhta sooraj dheere dheere” was based on a classical raga, which has only been sung by two of the singers, one was the Pakistani singer Mehdi Hasan, and the other was Aziz Naza, and he declared it on National Doordarshan telecast.
Aziz Naza always worked with great musicians such as sarangi player Ustad Sultan Khan, tabla player Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, Mandolin player Mustafa Sajjad Ali and tabla player Ustad Tari Khan of Pakistan etc. He worked with good technicians, recordists, sound designers etc. He composed his songs and used instruments according to effect of the words used in the songs so he could bring out the sentiments of the lyrics to give proper effect the hearts of the people, as he used the combination of sitar and mandolin in his famous song “Teer nazar ka o dildara” and it became a wonderful song.
He used track programming and feeding in his devotional album “Salley Alaa”. In this album he used drums and western percussions first time in Qawwali. At the time of the recording of this album, the technique of double track was not available, but he creatively used 32 track recording and sang every line 32 times in this five stanza song and so created a double track effect and sang main voice, as well as chorus in his own voice. The recording of this only song took 4 months.
In his last album “Main nashe mein hoon” some songs are based fully on western programming which was later followed by everyone.
Vocal style and range :- His voice range was very broad that no one has till date. He has had a significant voice quality and could sing in high octave till C to C sharp gracefully with no effect on his face, however his voice never cracked.
He was an ideal for many of the singers, even after years of his death, many singers are singing his hit songs like “Jhoom barabar jhoom sharabi” and “Chadhta sooraj dheere dheere”. Some of them are Sonu Nigam, Shankar Mahadevan, Baba Sehgal, K.K. etc. Not only that but many of the Bollywood’s great stars are his fans, and sing his songs. In a reality show Akshay Kumar gave tribute to one of his friends to sing the Qawwali “Chadhta sooraj dheere dheere”, saying that in his teenage he and one of his friends used to sing that song. His art and his presentation of the songs made people mad. Many of the legendry singers, music directors and stars organized his program at their residence like Lata Mangeshkar, Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Kishor Kumar, Indeevar, Kalyan ji, Premnath etc. to listen to him face to face. even today he lives in the hearts of the millions.
In 70s and 80s none of the Qawwals made acceptance such as Aziz Naza made. In 1975 when price of gold was Rs. 520/- per 10 grams, he charged Rs. 1,80,000/- as the payment of a show in Kala Mandir, Kolkata. Only he had that kind of fame that once when he was going to Ranchi for a charity show, public stopped the train and demanded “a shake hand” with Aziz Naza, and they moved only after meeting him. In 1977 the same incidence took place in Jhansi.
Recently MTV broadcasted “Chadhta Sooraj” in his program Coke Studio and later released it in the form of a CD. After some time this qawwwali was played on by some other artiste in an episode of the serial “Tarak Mehta ka oolta chashma” at Sab TV. Many of his songs are available as Mp3, ringtones and itunes at the internet.