© Legendary Musicians of Karachi
The Real Deal (random thoughts about the great Aamir Zaki)
They say if you don’t put your 2 cents in, how can you get change? Well here goes…
I first met Aamir about 13 years ago at a friend’s place. I was sitting back messing with a guitar, and he was busy chatting up an Aussie musician on the computer. He just turned round and said, dude what’s that you’re playing… It was an old jazz tune called ‘Just Friends’ and I told him so.
Next thing he says is – let’s go eat some chicken curry! I was thrilled….we got to talking and it was obvious after just 5 minutes that this guy was (as is) the real deal. The more we spoke, the more obvious this fact became.
I could tell he functioned outside the sphere of the local music scene, yet was inextricably linked to it. I suppose that’s the story of his life right there…..and one of the reasons I empathize with him.
He has a deep rooted love and command of his music, but where would he play, and who for? And how long can a musician stifle natural expression (I know another local genius who would definitely agree but that’s another story!)
One time before a gig, we were jamming the blues on his open G acoustic (sweet sweet tone) he came up with these amazing fills to Hellhound on My Trail, when suddenly he just looked at where the crowd would be, and stopped playing…….nuff said!
I believe the force behind his immense talent is his obsession with music. As someone who probably has OCD himself, it’s clear when you’re with Aamir for a few minutes that his mind revolves around music – he is a good conversationalist, but inevitably his obsession will bring him back to music – and he’ll share some far out idea he just thought up or an interesting riff or tune….if you dig it, he’s ecstatic – otherwise he gets low…
Speaking of obsession, we were at his place one time and I couldn’t get Duke Ellington and John Coltrane’s ‘In a Sentimental Mood’ out of my mind – so I told him let’s jam it and see what happens – turns out his favourite part of the tune was the (very same haunting) intro in which Ellington just toys with the BM7 chord and draws you in…… I myself was slipping into depression at the time and this brought a big 64 tooth grin to my face.
There’s a lot to glean from just these 2 random recollections…… but I guess those who know him better know what’s plaguing him anyway….
I really hope he turns up out of the blue again because this city desperately needs a musician like him performing live, daily or weekly – improvising and encouraging others.
He does surface time to time but I have lost track of him for the past 2 years. I spoke with him from the airport when I was leaving the country and when I was abroad I was really keen on forming a cool line-up with other seasoned players, but he politely refused saying he needed to be in Pakistan ‘cos that was home……
I’m not sure where he is now, maybe he’s back – I don’t know because I lay low myself – all I hope is that he stays active and plays the music he really loves, even for a handful of aficionados.
The guy is so technically and theoretically solid, yet never overwhelms you with phraseology……. he has hundreds of great original tunes shelved in his mind…. not to mention a loyal army of fans – musician and listeners alike. I wish him all the best and thank him for his great advice all those years ago: ‘play it by ear’!
Shine on, Amir……..
Stormbringer prefers to stay anonymous
AMENDMENT ~ The photograph above is Captain Akeel Akhtar (white strat) with Aamir Zaki and Mr. Ritchie Dsouza. Apparently it was at Captain’s house where Club 777 is today !!
It was 1988. It’s amazing when everything comes together.. (Changes have been made) ~ ldg