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“Weird” music, great listening

Audiences watching percussionist Syud Momtaz Ahmed ’07 perform at Wabash know the incredible focus, experimentation, and joy he brings to his music.

Now the rest of the world is going to hear it, too.

Taz, as he’s known to us at Wabash, is the percussionist for Ajob, a band from his native Bangladesh that is the youngest group ever to sign with that country’s Ektaar label. The group’s long awaited debut CD was released in September 2006.

“Ajob, which literally means ‘Weird’, is not just another intrigue-junkie fusion band with no teeth,” writes the website Banglamusic.com. “Almost all the songs of their self-titled album exude musical experimentation of the finest order.”

Bangladesh’s The Star weekend magazine is similarly enthusiastic about fusion bands like Taz’s Ajob, which often blends the lyrics of the Baul tradition with western instrumentation and rhythms: “Be it the lyrics, the tune, the fusion of traditional instruments and western instruments, or the catchy western beats mixed in with the husky, spiritual sounds of Bangladeshi folk music, fusion and remixes have created a stepping stone for the new and improved Bangladeshi music world.”

For Taz, the music provides a necessary counterbalance to his studies and research as a chemistry major at Wabash. Once aspiring to a career in medicine, the senior has spent the past three summers doing research in materials chemistry and plan to pursue his doctorate in that field. He also plans always to have music part of his life.

“Music is a hobby that I love,” Taz says. “It’s a great escape for me; when I am playing music, I don’t have a care in the world. As a percussionist, I have that ability to make a song festive, angry, or sad. Music is my way of expressing how I think and how I feel about things; my perspective.”

The percussionist says his band’s first CD “is made with a lot of love.

“There’s this huge generation gap in music in my country,” Taz explains. “Most young people have migrated to Western music, but Ajob is attracting the younger audience in a way that other Bangladeshi bands don’t. We hope that they find the music interesting, but we want them to understand the deeper metaphorical meanings of the old, traditional folk tunes. They’re part of our culture, our heritage.”

Taz will be featured in the Fall 2006 issue of Wabash Magazine.

Click here or here to hear music from the CD.