Yorkston Thorne Khan re-arrange Selby Town Hall concert for November 24

Suhail Yusuf Khan , left, JonThorne and James Yorkston: new album, new tour date in Selby

YORKSTON Thorne Khan, the first gig at Selby Town Hall to fall foul of the Covid-19 shutdown last month, has been re-arranged for November 24.

Tickets for the postponed March 20 show remain valid for the new date, with further tickets still on sale at selbytownhall.co.uk.

Yorkston Thorne Khan are Scottish songwriter James Yorkston (guitar, nyckelharpa, voice); Bishop’s Storford  jazz musician Jon Thorne (double bass, voice) and Delhi-born eighth generation sarangi player and vocalist Suhail Yusuf Khan.

The trio will be touring in support of their third album, Navarasa: Nine Emotions, a January 24 release on Domino Recordings that followed 2016 debut Everything Sacred and 2017’s Neuk Wight Delhi All-Stars after they first met by chance backstage in 2015 and played together ever since.

On the latest recording, they tackle Robert Burns and Sufi poetry, via Dick Gaughan and Amir Khusrow Dehlavi, traditional Scottish songs, ragas and their own spidery compositions.

At the heart of Yorkston Thorne Khan’s transporting new album is the subcontinent’s navarasa: the nine (nava) emotions or sentiments (rasa) of the arts. This “unifying underpinning” is a centuries-old organising principle, wherein the individual artistic emotions range from Shringara (love, beauty), through Hasya (laughter, mirth, comedy), Raudra (anger), Karuna (sorrow, compassion or mercy), Bibhatsya (disgust), Bhayanaka (horror, terror), Veera (heroism, courage), Adbutha (surprise, wonder), to Shanta (peace, tranquillity).

The artwork for Yorkston Thorne Khan’s Navarasa: Nine Emotions

Each song is connected to one of these emotions; for example Westlin Winds is paired with Adbutha, opening with the life-destroying Act I of Robert Burns’s poem Now Westlin Winds (And Slaught’ring Guns).

Then it deliciously transplants its disjoined, nature-extolling and life-affirming Act II on to Indian soil with a composition in Purbi, a dialect of old Hindi. “I learnt the song by listening to various qawwali [Muslim devotional song] singers singing at Hazrat Nizammuddin’s dargah [shrine] in Delhi,” says Khan. “Its source is Hazrat Amir Khusrau.”

In this way, Yorkston Thorne Khan unite one of the key spiritual visionaries and architects of Hindustani art music, the poet-philosopher Hazrat Amir Khusrau, with the key literary visionary of Scottish culture, Robert Burns. 

This bricolage of diverse cross-cultural elements is apparent across Navarasa: Nine Emotions.  Yorkston weaves in Scottish folk, sangster and literary strands; Thorne is grounded in jazz and groove. Then add New Delhi-based Khan’s feast of northern Indian classical, light classical and Sufi devotional musical and literary influences. “What binds these diverse musical strands together is a dark happiness,” says Yorkston.

Looking forward to the re-arranged show in the autumn, Selby Town Hall manager Chris Jones says: “Sadly James, Jon and Suhail’s show was the first in our calendar to fall victim to the lockdown. They are such a phenomenally talented trio, and the feedback I had heard from the early gigs on their tour was amazing, so it was desperately disappointing not to be able to give the Selby audience that experience.

“Thankfully though, we’ve been able to reschedule the show for November 24, and this is definitely one that’s worth waiting for.”