“Ringo became the king of experience,” declared American rock musician Dave Grohl, satisfactorily called the drummer of the grunge band Nirvana, in a tribute video for Ringo Starr’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame presentation. Referring to the Beatles’ uncelebrated genius, he stated, “Define the excellent drummer in the global. Is it a person that’s technically proficient? Or is it a person that sits on the track with their own sense?” Zakir Hussain is both. He is the Ustad of feeling as well as shape. His tabla resounds with rhythm, technique, and emotion in an identical measure, making this prodigious exponent an international icon.
Even as Rishikesh gears up to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles’ visit to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram, it’ll additionally symbolize an iconic second inside the East-West musical collaboration. In 1967, George Harrison, after in-depth lessons in sitar from Pt. Ravi Shankar sang ‘Within You Without You,’ a pop piece stimulated using an Indian classical song, step one of their creative partnership.
In 1974, Ustad Zakir Hussain and jazz guitarist John Maclaughlin, violinist L. Shankar and ghatam exponent Vikku Vinayakram cemented this geo-cultural bond Shakti that shook the soundscape with its innovative Carnatic, Hindustani and western synthesis. The pioneering organization may have disbanded; however, shakti or energy is a regular inside Ustad’s life, coming via definitely in his persona and music. An exuberant vanakkam at the beginning of an engaging communication, in addition, reiterates it.
When he talks track, Zakir, the showman, who unfailingly attracts a full house and is continually mobbed via lovers’ submit-live performance, gives way to a deeply thinking musician. Like his track, his thoughts seamlessly traverse among the then and the now, constructing stunning imagery of his innovative journey. A Life In Music, an ebook on the Ustad using Nasreen Munni Kabir, launched these days, is ready such conversations he had with the writer over two years.
“Communication is the soul of artwork, and I am constantly excited about interacting with human beings and artists. But the concept of a book was not mine,” he laughs. “It was entirely Nasreen’s. She has labored on many conversation-style books on famous names of Indian cinema. She contacted me via Sumantra Ghosal, who made the documentary, The Speaking Hand: Zakir Hussain and the Art of the Indian Drum. I took some time to give the cross ahead because I did now not want a book on the way to play the tabla’. I wanted to be a raconteur, narrating incidents and stories.” The conversations have been recorded in various towns worldwide among his frenetic live performance schedules; he does extra than 200 shows in 12 months.
“I actually have frequently spoken about abba (Ustad Allah Rakha) and the way I skilled with him. But the ebook took me on a nostalgic trip; I relived every second from the day I started out learning from my father. Today, 17 years after his death, I sense an invisible umbilical cord nevertheless holds us together. Every first-rate musician I have performed, including Palghat Raghu, Balamuralikrishna, Ustad Vilayat Khan, and Amjad Ali Khan, has shaped me as an artist. I don’t forget as an 11-year-old playing the tabla in front of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and what he said to me had not anything to do with raga improvement or Taal nuances; it turned into approximately becoming a finer human.”
The ebook delves into these poignant moments that the Ustad says have carried him thru the beyond six a long time. “The first live performance with Pt. Ravi Shankar overseas came about because my father changed into indisposed. As Panditji went up on stage, he stated, ‘women and gentlemen, are you all thinking how Ustad Allah Rakha became so young and narrow.’ He then looked at me with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
The spirit they introduced to their paintings is what stored the song of these geniuses refreshing. I even had watched how at 73, when Balamuralikrishna sat in the front of the mike, the years vanished. At the 80th party of my father in Mumbai, although he seemed frail and susceptible, he began to recite the boys a few minutes into the occasion; the target audience was shocked. I, too, desire to have this type of connection with my song.”
The Ustad is an explorer who has showcased to the arena the extraordinary ability of Indian music via taking part with names to reckon with inside the West. “It becomes sincerely no longer a deliberate circulate. I turned into college, while an opportunity to go to Europe came with the aid of. From there, I headed to America for three weeks that sooner or later have become three years. Things just took place.
It became just a case of being in the proper region at the proper time. I turned into fortunate to be associated with prestigious crossover tasks. It was nothing unusual; many before me had executed inside the West while artistes today are locating interesting ways to blur the strains between genres,” he explains. It is not unexpected to find the Ustad frequently sharing the level with more youthful musicians, which include Rakesh Chaurasia, Sabir Khan, Ganesh-Kumaresh, Jayanthi Kumaresh, and Niladri Kumar.
On January 30, he could be appearing with santoor artiste Rahul Sharma in Chennai. “It’s heartening to see so many excellent younger artists around. I need to aid them in every way. In the method, I too stand to advantage — my track and I stay younger. At this age, I am asked how do I leave refreshed and energized. Now you understand how,” he laughs heartily.