Zakir Hussain is today appreciated both in the field of percussion and in the music world at large as an international phenomenon and one of the greatest musicians of our time. A classical tabla virtuoso of the highest order, his consistently brilliant and exciting performances have established him as a national treasure in his own country, India, and as one of India’s reigning cultural ambassadors. Along with his legendary father and teacher, Ustad Allarakha, he has elevated the status of his instrument both in India and around the world. His playing is marked by uncanny intuition and masterful improvisational dexterity, founded in formidable knowledge and study.
The pre-eminent classical tabla virtuoso of our time, Zakir Hussain is appreciated both in the field of percussion and in the music world at large as an international phenomenon. A national treasure in his native India, he is one of the world’s most esteemed and influential musicians, renowned for his genre-defying collaborations.
Widely considered a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement, Zakir’s contribution has been unique, with many historic and groundbreaking collaborations, including Shakti, Remember Shakti, Masters of Percussion, the Diga Rhythm Band, Planet Drum, Tabla Beat Science, Sangam with Charles Lloyd and Eric Harland, in trio with Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer and, most recently, with Herbie Hancock. The foremost disciple of his father, the legendary Ustad Allarakha, Zakir was a child prodigy who began his professional career at the age of twelve, touring internationally with great success by the age of eighteen.
As a composer, he has scored music for numerous feature films, major events and productions. He has composed two concertos, and his third, the first-ever concerto for tabla and orchestra, was premiered in India in September, 2015, premiered in Europe and the UK in 2016, and will be performed in the USA in April, 2017, by the National Symphony Orchestra at Kennedy Center. A Grammy award winner, he is the recipient of countless awards and honors, including Padma Bhushan, National Heritage Fellowship and Officier in France’s Order of Arts and Letters. In 2015, he was voted “Best Percussionist” by both the Downbeat Critics’ Poll and Modern Drummer’s Reader’s Poll.
As an educator, he conducts many workshops and lectures each year, has been in residence at Princeton University and Stanford University, and, in 2015, was appointed Regents Lecturer at UCBerkeley. He is the founder and president of Moment Records, an independent record label presenting rare live concert recordings of Indian classical music and world music. Zakir was resident artistic director at SFJazz from 2013 until 2016.
"If there is such a thing as a tabla superstar, Indian virtuoso Zakir Hussain is it..."Chicago Tribune
"This is music in which the line between artistry and bravado is as thin as an uncooked pappadam. It shrank even further with displays of percussive virtuosity being the concert's raison d'etre."The Sydney Morning Herald