Paul Simon to mark touring retirement with new album

Paul Simon, right, and Art Garfunkel. Simon said he will stop touring after a September 22 concert at Forest Hills Stadium in the New York borough of Queens, where he grew up. (Shuttersock)
Updated 12 July 2018
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Paul Simon to mark touring retirement with new album

  • Preparing for his live finale Simon said he will on September 7 release a 14th solo studio album
  • Paul Simon: It’s an unusual occurrence for an artist to have the opportunity to revisit earlier works and rethink them

NEW YORK: Folk rock legend Paul Simon on Thursday announced an album with fresh takes on previously released songs as he prepares to retire from touring.
The former half of Simon and Garfunkel, who pioneered world music fusion in the 1980s, previously said that he will stop touring after a September 22 concert at Forest Hills Stadium in the New York borough of Queens, where he grew up.
Preparing for his live finale, Simon said he will on September 7 release a 14th solo studio album, “In the Blue Light,” in which collaborators joining him to reinterpret his songs.
“It’s an unusual occurrence for an artist to have the opportunity to revisit earlier works and rethink them; to modify, even completely change parts of the originals,” Simon, 76, writes in the liner notes, according to a statement announcing the album.
“I hope the listener will find these new versions of old songs refreshed, like a new coat of paint on the walls of an old family home.”
The album will not feature his best-known hits such as “You Can Call Me Al” or “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.”
Instead it will emphasize lesser-known tracks such as the surrealist-inspired “Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War.”
Star guests will include the iconic jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis on “How the Heart Approaches What It Yearns” and “Pigs, Sheep and Wolves” as well as Bryce Dessner, the composer and guitarist of indie rockers The National who arranged a new take of “Can’t Run But,” Simon’s 1990 song about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
“Can’t Run But” appeared on “The Rhythm of the Saints,” in which Simon incorporated the sounds of Brazil. The album followed his career-reviving 1986 album “Graceland,” in which Simon found a new voice by working with South African musicians.


With Saudi roots and an Indian heart, Al-Kazi is an act the stage will never forget

Updated 21 February 2019
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With Saudi roots and an Indian heart, Al-Kazi is an act the stage will never forget

  • Though an icon in India, few people know about Al-Kazi’s Saudi roots

JEDDAH: India has always been a hub of art and culture. Over the last century, movies emerged as the most expressive cultural medium, and the Indian film industry — commonly known as Bollywood — has since become a powerhouse of world cinema.

One can never do its history justice without mentioning Ebrahim Al-Kazi.

A renowned director and drama teacher, he worked as the director of the prestigious New Delhi-based National School of Drama (NSD) from 1962 to 1977, teaching many well-known future actors and fellow directors, including Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and Rohini Hattangadi. He also founded the Art Heritage Gallery in New Delhi.

Though an Indian icon, however, few people know about Al-Kazi’s Saudi roots. His father, Hamad bin Ali Al-Kazi, was a trader from Unaiza in the Kingdom’s Qassim region, who subsequently settled in Pune, India, where Ebrahim was born in 1925. 

Early on in his career, Al-Kazi worked with the Bombay Progressive Artists Group, which included M.F. Husain, F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza, Akbar Padamsee and Tyeb Mehta, who would all later contribute to the design of his sets.

He worked in India, the US and Europe before becoming the director of the NSD, and later of the Asian Theater Institute, and is credited with staging more than 50 plays in his lifetime. He also contributes to the preservation of Indian cultural history through his Al-Kazi Foundation for the Arts.

In February 2015, Al-Kazi was honored at the second Saudi Film Festival in Dammam. He was later quoted in Arab media sources on his Saudi upbringing: “Our father was a firm believer in our cultural roots that went back to Saudi Arabia, and we spoke only Arabic at home. We had a teacher of Arabic and Islamic studies who came from Saudi Arabia, and lived as part of our family.

“Arab families (in India) did not mix very much with others, but my father had close ties with people other than Arabs,” he added.

Al-Kazi has also won many prestigious Indian awards. He was the first recipient of Roopwedh Pratishthan’s Tanvir Award in 2004 for his contribution to Indian theater, and in 1966 received the Padma Shri award. He won the Padma Bhushan award in 1991, and was given India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2010.