Sangeet Sartaj Vol 2 - Zakir Hussain (Ustad) (2009)

Ustad Zakir Hussain


About this album

Tabla Nawaz Zakir Hussain is the most celebrated classical percussionist of modern times. If ever there has been a percussionist to create a sensation through his art and stirred the imagination of a whole generation of music connoisseurs and music lovers alike, it is Zakir Hussain.

The illustrious son of the illustrious father, Zakir Hussain was born in Mumbai on March 9th, 1952. His father, the legendary tabla virtuoso Alla Rakha Khan belonged to the Punjab gharana. He initiated his son Zakir Hussain into the art of tabla playing when he was just seven. Alla Rakha gave the child prodigy Zakir rigorous training and taught him the intricacies of the art. At the age of eight he gave accompaniment to the sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan at a private gathering in Mumbai.

Later, Zakir Hussain received his taalim from the legendary tabla wizard Ahmed Jaan Thirakawa famous for the Ajrada baaj of tabla school and Habibuddin Khan of Meerut. In fact his formative years were shaped in an artistically rich environment where he could receive day-to-day lessons from great masters like Khan, Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan and quite few others. It was Zakir Hussain's hard work and his inborn talent coupled with the taleem he received from his gurus that brought him success.

Zakir Hussain with his charismatic personality has an impressive stage presence. His style reveals his solid base of many traditional baaj (schools) of tabla and what he acquired from the masters of these styles. This is why his style is identified as Chokhat Baaj (main four styles in traditional tabla playing). While performing he does not restrict himself to the baaj of just one particular gharana. In fact his style reflects the versatility with which he blends in the gats, kayadas, padants and radically creative improvisation renderings, which make his performance so colorful.

In his solo performances, Zakir Hussain wizardly knows no boundaries when he takes an open-ended chhanda of complex rhythm, showing different layakaris. With his unparalleled capacity for improvisation and impeccable precision of timing, Zakir Hussain's solo performances become a rhythmic marvel to his audience. He is an artiste who adroitly fulfills all the aspects of the classical art, be it as a solo performer or as an accompanist to classical vocalists, dance-performers or other instrumentalists.

The rhythmic cycle supposed to evoke the majestic lumbering gait of an elephant, the jhaptala boats ten beats divided in four bars 2+3+2+3. This is a serious and complicated rhythmic cycle not as commonly heard on the concert stage as the teentala or ektala. Zakir's rendition here brings it as unusual buoyancy and his virtuoso handling of this rhythmic time frame has to be heard to be believed.

Teen Tala
The most basic and universal of all North Indian rhythmic cycles or tala-s, the teen tala or tritala comprises 16 beats divided in sets of fours. Of the four vibhagas (or bars) the first, second and the fourth bars are indicated by claps and the first beat is called the sam. The third is called the khali (empty) and is indicated by the wave of the hands. Zakir's magical handling of this tala is at once musically lyrical yet intellectually stupendous. It also immensely arrested, sheerly by the amazing range and complexity of sound produced by his dexterous finger - work on the pair leather and wood drums, the tablas.


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