Tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain is on tour with the Masters of Percussion, a unique ensemble of the melodic and rhythmic traditions of India. This kind of blend of raga and tala “does not usually happen in this way,” says Hussain. “Normally, one is accompanying the other; here it is a parallel representation.”

This year the ensemble includes the great sarangi maestro, Sultan Khan, renowned for his extraordinary technical and melodic control over this difficult stringed instrument.

The Manipuri Jagoi Marup combine dance, drumming, and martial arts in their repertoire. They are known for their dynamic athleticism and proficiency as well as for their unique-sounding drums. They are a visual feast, dazzling audiences with their acrobatic choreography.
Added to the eclectic mix is the tr
aditional repertoire of North Indian drumming on tabla in solo and duet, as well as excursions exploring the frontier between traditional and contemporary, between folk and classical.


“For the first time, Masters of Percussion is presenting a sitarist, Niladri Kumar, one of the brightest future masters of this instrument,” adds Hussain. “Also, I am happy to present Khete Khan on khartal from the colorful folk tradition of Rajasthan. It is probably here for the first time that khartal is used in combination with the classical form.”

How does the prodigious tabla maestro integrate so many artists and different classical and folk traditions on a single stage? “The seeds of this were sown when my duet concert tours with my father began to include musicians from other styles,” says Hussain, “for instance, T.H. Vinayakram and Selva Ganesh from the South, and Bhavani Shankar, who is a drummer from a kathak family.”

Bhavani Shankar plays the pakhavaj and dholak; Fazal Qureshi performs on tabla and kanjira; Taufiq Qureshi does percussion; and the inimitable Zakir Hussain performs magic with the tabla and other drums, tying the many threads of music together into an exquisite and vibrant tapestry.

—Ashok Jethanandani

SATURDAY, April 29, 8 p.m. Presented by Cal Performances. Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley campus, Bancroft Way at College Ave., Berkeley. $24, $34, $46. (510) 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu

THUURSDAY, May 4, 8 p.m. Presented by UCLA Live. Royce Hall, UCLA, Westwood. $50, $38, $28, $17 UCLA students. (310) 825-2101. www.uclalive.org

Ashok Jethanandani, B.A.M.S. is a graduate of Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar. Jethanandani now practices ayurveda in San Jose. www.classical-ayurveda.com.