Zakir Hussain — A Percussionist Par Excellence

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March 15, 2012

An architect of modern world music, renowned for his genre-defying collaborations, Zakir Hussain, will jam with seven mind-blowing Master Percussionists at the Kennedy Center on Saturday, March 17, from 3pm. A family-friendly entertainment event, hosted by the Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS), Zakir says: “This coming together of these unique artists might not happen again. They are truly enchanting.”

March 15, 2012

An architect of modern world music, renowned for his genre-defying collaborations, Zakir Hussain, will jam with seven mind-blowing Master Percussionists at the Kennedy Center on Saturday, March 17, from 3pm. A family-friendly entertainment event, hosted by the Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS), Zakir says: “This coming together of these unique artists might not happen again. They are truly enchanting.”

By Staff Reporter & Columnist, Sam Prasad JillellaSpecial to MYDOSTI.COM

World renowned tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain

WASHINGTON DC, March 14— “Wow! Zakir Hussain will be in DC this week,” said Matt Selig, as I stepped into Atomic Music store, yesterday, in Beltsville, Maryland.

Matt is a professional musician and a sales consultant at Atomic Music where I bought percussion instruments since several years.

Matt watched Zakir play at GW Lisner Auditorium in 2008. Reaching out for a high-five, with unconcealed excitement, he said — “can’t wait to see Zakir again…he is just mind blowing.”

Yes. He is mind-blowing! What he does is just exceptional, just so celestial. Watching him play is like a spiritual trip…so other-worldly.

Initiated into tabla-playing at three by his father, the iconic tabla-player Alla Rakha Hussain, Zakir says “I never turned back.”

In an interview with INDIA THIS WEEK, Zakir confessed: “I am told, when I was two days old my mother handed me to my father to say a prayer. He tenderly held me, and to my mother’s astonishment, proudly chanted a tabla rhythmic-cycle, and justified his act, saying — ‘this is my prayer for my son.’”

Chuckling about his religious initiation Zakir fondly recounts: “Though I started banging on the tabla at the age of three, tabla was already a part-and-parcel of my life, like a part of my DNA.” He began touring at age 12.

Born in Mumbai, the tabla-king’s performances have established him as India’s national treasure and as one of the world’s most esteemed and influential musicians. His playing is marked by masterful improvisational dexterity, founded in formidable knowledge and study.

Saturated in the 2,000-year-old tradition of Indian classical music, Zakir has performed with masters like Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan, Ali Akbar Khan and other great Indian musicians and dancers during the last 40 years.

Zakir has also brought tabla into the emerging genre of world music, working with such distinctly non-Indian artists as John McLaughlin, George Harrison, Yo-Yo Ma, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison, Airto Moreira, Pharoah Sanders, Billy Cobham, Mark Morris, Tito Puente, Rennie Harris and the Kodo drummers, to name a few. His music and contribution to world music were honored in April 2009 with four widely-heralded and sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall’s Artist Perspective series.

Zakir starred in the Merchant Ivory film Heat and Dust in 1983, for which he also composed the score. He composed, performed and acted as Indian music advisor for the Malayalam (language of the Indian state of Kerala) film Vanaprastham. He has also composed soundtracks for other movies, including In Custody and The Mystic Masseur by Ismail Merchant. Zakir played tabla on the soundtracks of Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha and other films and composed the soundtrack of Mr. and Mrs. Iyer.

He also starred in several documentaries showcasing his musical performance both solo and with different bands, including the 1998 documentary "Zakir and His Friends" and the documentary "The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum" (2003). He also performs in the DVDs The Rhythm Devils Concert Experience (2008) and The Way of Beauty (2006) with the band Remember Shakti.

Masters of Percussion, an outgrowth of Zakir’s tours with his father, has enjoyed successful tours in the West since 1996. Zakir is a thorough gentleman. Washington’s accomplished tabla-player Enayet Hossain who knows Zakir since his childhood days, says “Zakir is a very inspirational and delightful musician . He always encouraged me. He brings the best out of any musician. Musicains of every genre love to watch him play.”

Zakir’s team of Master Percussionists consists of Fazal Qureshi (tabla and kanjira) Rakesh Chaurasia, bansuri (bamboo flute), THV Umashankar, ghatam (clay pot), Dilshad Khan, sarangi, Navin Sharma, dholak, Abbos Kosimov, doyra, and Meitel Pung Cholom, dancing drummer of Manipur.

Check them out — watch their rhythmic improvisations ornament rhyme and dance. You will be dazzled, for sure.


Community Special by MYDOSTI.COM