What is the first thing that comes to mind when Zakir Husain is mentioned? Apart
from Wah Taj, that is. Mercurial charm, unruly curls, and a personality that is
as engaging a performer as it is a musician.
As one who swum against the tide, and invited his father Ustad Allah Rakha Khan ire, when he decided to go global and perform with international artists, Padma Shree Zakir Husain swore he knew where his roots were. And this was all too clear at his performance in the city as part of YES 2003, where he jammed with Indian artists this time. Percussionist Shivamani, jazz pianist Louis Banks, and Niladri Kumar on the sitar, accompanied the maestro and at times even matched tempo with the most frenetic and involved pieces of his repertoire.
The event, Harmony of Beats started two hours late, to no one's surprise, or irritation really. The night was pleasant and the crowd was kept entertained by a series of demonstrations of local talent.
It was only when the foursome finally did take the stage, that you could gauge the massive turnout of music-lovers at the event. The cheers got heartier when Zakir Husain asked the press photographers to clear off, so the audience could enjoy an unobstructed view.
The music started off upbeat, and this was largely the theme all evening - sometimes
frantic, sometimes steady, but unceasingly energetic throughout. The spotlight
was initally on the two percussionists, one with the sensuous thrum of his tabla,
and the other with the electric vitality of his drums and cymbals. They rounded
off this session by sparring in a throughly enjoyable jugalbandi.
Another common thread that ran through the performance were the medleys and fusion scores, where each artist brought his own distinct flavour to the bouquet. Some of the songs were familiar Hindi film numbers and the others were more dramatic in effect, building slowly up to a tempo that crashed with abandon onto its audience, before ebbing slowly away. Not an evening we're likely to forget in a hurry.