Hussain Zakir

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Hussain Zakir
Zakir Hussain © Lutz Deppe

Article

Zakir Hussain - the elect

Many call Zakir Hussain the world?s best percussionist. Born in Bombay in 1951, Zakir is the chosen ensemble member of nearly all masters of classical Indian music, but he has also performed with western musicians like John McLaughlin, Jack Bruce, George Harrison, Puente and Pharaoh Sanders. Zakir Hussain teaches percussion, is the director of a record company and composes film music
Zakir Hussain is the chosen percussionist of many of the greatest Indian musicians and dancers ? from Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar to Birju Maharaj and Shivkumar Sharma. But this is not enough for his astonishing genius. He has also worked with John McLaughlin, with whom he founded Shakti, and with Mickey Harts? Planet Drum. In areas apart from world music he has played with such various musicians as George Harrison, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison, Jack Bruce, Tito Puente, Pharaoh Sanders and Billy Cobham. The mastery of his playing combines intuition with an unbelievable skill at improvisation.
Even as a child the son of the tabla legend Allah Rakha was surrounded by music and musicians day and night. He recalls: ?I already performed at the age of seven, so must have begun at the age of three or four. My father tells me that on the way from hospital after my birth he lifted me and whispered rhythmical syllables into my ear.? This parental care had the desired effect. Zakir performed for the first time in public at the age of twelve.

The tabla is the main rhythmical instrument of classical Hindu music and accompanies singing as well as instrumental performances. A tabla player has a pair of small drums tied together, one conical and one cylindrical, each of which has a drum-skin and is differently tuned. In the middle of the membrane is to be seen a black dot made up of cast-iron dust and rice, ensuring a pure sound. The right hand plays the tabla or dayan as such and the left the accompanying deeper bayan. The sequence and kinds of rapping (with the palm of the hand, the wrist and the fronts or tips of the fingers) can be quite different and together produce remarkable cascades of sound, provided of course that the player is experienced, sensitive and skilled, as in Zakir?s case. He has acquired a mastery of not only the tabla but also of the older Indian percussion instruments like the dhol, kho, duggi, dholak and nai.

He took over his father?s role of accompanying Ravi Shankar and gave his USA debut with him in Filmore East. In the same year he moved to the USA and played together with the Grateful Dead Drummer Mickey Hart for instance as also with the Diga Rhythm Band. In New York he met John McLaughlin. They became friends and founded Shakti together with the South Indian violinist L. Shankar. Later Mc Laughlin collaborated on Zakir?s first solo album, Making Music (1987).

Making Music (1987) was said by critics to be ?one of the most inspired East-West fusion albums ever recorded, and a year later Zahir became the youngest percussionist ever to be awarded the title Padma Shri by the Indian government. Other awards soon followed. In 1990 he received the Indo-American award for his services to American-Indian relations. In 1991 he was honoured by the Indian president with the Sangeet Natak Akademy Award, being again the youngest person ever to have received it. In 1999 he was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship, which is the United States? highest award for a master of the traditional arts.

In 1992 Zakir founded Moment! Records, a record company which issues new world music as well as performances by classical Indian masters. His album Planet Drum (1992) received the Grammy Award as the best world music album, while also winning the Downbeat Critics Poll and the NARM Indie Best Seller Award. The album was a collaboration between him and Mickey Hart. In 1996 and 1997 there followed a tour with Planet Drum under Zakir?s musical supervision.

As if all that were not enough, Zakir Hussain took part in composing the opening music for the Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia in the USA in 1996. In 1998 he wrote the music for a contemporary ballet ensemble from San Francisco. He composed, played and gave advice on Indian music in the films In Custody (Ismail Merchant) and Little Buddha (Bernardo Bertolucci). And beside these exhaustive and exhausting activities he toured with the musicians from Shakti (John McLaughlin, L. Shandar and T.H. Vinayakram) as also with his own percussion groups.

Author: Haus der Kulturen der Welt

Bio

Ustar Zakir Hussain was born on 09 03 1951 in Bombay in India. The son of the tabla virutoso Ustad Alla Rakha, he was expected to uphold the family tradition. He was was introduced to complex Indian rhythms as soon as he was able to sit, and already at the age of twelve he had accompanied many masters in northern India. Since then he has taken part in hundreds of performances of classical Indian music.
As his father?s successor with Ravi Shankar he gave his US debut in 1970 in a concert in Filmore East. In New York he also met John McLaughlin, with whom he founded the group Shakti. Since moving to the USA in 1970, Hussain has become a tireless advocate of world music, playing with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Starship, Van Morrison or with his own Rhythm Experience, a pan-cultural percussion group. He has composed and recorded many albums and soundtracks, and his international reputation is evident from the many awards which he has received.

His first solo album, Making Music (1987) was highly praised by critics. He was the youngest percussionist to be honoured with the title Padma Shri (1988), which was only the first of many honours, including the National Heritage Fellowship, which he was handed on 28th September, 1999, by Hillary Rodney Clinton. His album Planet Drum (1992) received the Grammy Award as the best world music album, while also winning the Downbeat Critics Poll and the NARM Indie Best Seller Award. In fall 1997, Shakti?s players came together again for the 50th anniversary of Indian independence, giving rise to the double-live-album Remember Shakti. The renewed collaboration was such fun for Hussain and McLaughlin that they again went on tour, this time with a new album The Believer, which was dedicated to Zakir?s father, who had died in February 2000.


Works

Space the Elements

Published Audio,
2008
Japan (Megaphon Importservice)

Best of Zakir Hussain

Published Audio,
2007
Arc Music (DA Music)

Vanaprastham la Derniere Danse

Published Audio,
2007
Soundtrack. Amelie

The Elements - Space

Published Audio,
2007
Music Today

Sangeet Sartaj

Published Audio,
2006
Living Music India

Rhythmic Impressions of Ustad

Published Audio,
2006
Navras Records

Soundscapes - Music of the Deserts

Published Audio,
2005
Music Today

Magical Moments of Rhythm

Published Audio,
2005
Eternal Music

In Memory of Alla Rakha: Wizard of Tabla: Live, Vol. 2

Published Audio,
2005
Chhanda Dhara

The Wizard of Tabla Vol.2

Published Audio,
2005
Chhanda Dhara

Zakir Hussain Digital Collection 1

Published Audio,
2004
Saregama

Zakir Hussain Digital Collection 2

Published Audio,
2004
Saregama

Zakir Hussain Digital Collection 3

Published Audio,
2004
Saregama

Raga-S Sessions

Published Audio,
2003
Universal

Selects

Published Audio,
2003
Moment (MP MEDIA)

Drums of India

Published Audio,
2003
Saregama

Selects

Published Audio,
2002
Moment

Tabla Duet

Published Audio,
2002
Moment (MP MEDIA)

The Rhythm Experience

Published Audio,
2002
Moment (MP MEDIA)

The Pioneer of Santoor

Published Audio,
2001
Chhanda Dhara

Young Tabla Wizard Zakir Hussain

Published Audio,
2001
With Sultan Kahn. Chhanda Dhara

Remember Shakti: Saturday Night in Bombay

Published Audio,
2001

Sambandh

Published Audio,
2000
Interra (Cargo Records)

Kronos Caravan

Published Audio,
2000
Nonesuch

Remember Shakti: The Believer

Published Audio,
2000
Polygram Records

Drums of India (Allarakha and Zakir Hussain)

Published Audio,
2000

Bhajan

Published Audio,
1999
T-Series

Remember Shakti

Published Audio,
1999

Essence of Rhythm

Published Audio,
1998

In Concert, Vol. 1: Live in Vancouver

Published Audio,
1997
Eternal Music

In Concert, Vol. 2: Live in Vancouver

Published Audio,
1997
Eternal Music

In Custody

Published Audio,
1994
A Film By Ismail Merchant (soundtrack). Angel Records

Making Music

Published Audio,
1994
Ecm Records

Planet Drum

Published Audio,
1992
With Mickey Hart

Who´s To Know (L Shankar)

Published Audio,
1990

Natural Elements

Published Audio,
1977
Tristar

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Jazz across the border

(21 June 91 - 15 July 01)