Indian drumming, believe it or not, has become fashionable on the dance floor. Remixers are fusing Indian classical music with cool, Euro-American drum 'n' bass. Tablas, dhols and duggis are being augmented with kit drumming and synthetic percussion loops; the result is mesmerizing, sophisticated 21st-century dance music.
Zakir Hussain doesn't participate in this international cross-pollination, but he is the world's leading tabla player, a man brimming with more musicianship and imagination than a dozen DJs. What he can do with the tabla -- two small squat drums meticulously constructed to generate a wide variety of pitches -- is astounding. His unparalleled rhythmic sense and improvisational skills inspire every musician he plays with, not to mention his audiences. In addition to his collaborations with Indian musicians, Hussain has played with many Brazilian, African and Cuban artists, as well as with American jazz greats such as Joe Henderson, John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham.
Hussain's Houston appearance is a rare opportunity to hear him perform both major styles of Indian classical music. Sharing the spotlight will be violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman and sitar maestro Shahid Parvez. Jayaraman is best known for adapting the violin to suit the classical music of his country. He created a revolution, evolving the Carnatic (southern Indian) style into something distinctly his own, the lalgudi bani. Parvez is considered one of the leading sitar players in the Hindustani (northern Indian) tradition. Following solo performances, Jayaraman, Parvez and Hussain will perform together in a sort of superjam.
Even if you have only a passing acquaintance with India's classical traditions, you should make an effort to attend this concert. You won't hear any drum 'n' bass, but this is one classical music that will make you want to dance.