Boston Globe, March 16, 2012
It was only a few weeks ago that Zakir Hussain, the world-famous drum virtuoso and master of the Indian tabla, was making the latest of his discoveries of obscure percussion styles in his home country.
Driving through Maharashtra state, his party stopped for a roadside break by a temple in the countryside. “There was a young man standing there with two different kinds of drums hanging from his neck,’’ Hussain says. While drumming, the man was chanting shlokas – sacred verses in Sanskrit.
“I asked what he was doing,’’ Hussain says. “He said, this is the chanting of the shlokas at the hour when the sun is right above. His forefathers did this 400 years ago in this temple. Here was this kid who had no idea he was doing something so special and so full of emotion. He did not realize the world out there would be stunned by such artistry.’’
Even in the northeastern state of Manipur, which has a rich percussion tradition that Hussain thought he knew well, he encountered a variant that was new to him. “They drum and dance and sing all at the same time; it requires an incredible amount of stamina. I was like, this needs to be explored further.’’