Wah! Ustad

IN SYNC Ustad Zakir Hussain and Ustad Shujaat Khan

IN SYNC Ustad Zakir Hussain and Ustad Shujaat Khan  

Ustad Zakir Hussain was the talk of the town as the tabla wizard played with Ustad Shujaat Khan and Niladri Kumar early this week

Thousands of people poured at New Delhi’s Modern School to listen to the jugalbandi between two masters – Ustad Zakir Hussain and Ustad Shujaat Khan and when the Shankarlal Hall got packed, a screen was provided outside for the rest of the crowd. The concert was organised as a tribute to the legendary Ustad Vilayat Khan and Zakir Hussain paid touching tribute with “A baby was gifted in his cradle with a small pair of tabla by the great Ustad, and that baby was me! His guidance began from then on, in many guises as playing with Shujaat Bhai when he was a teenager or with other representatives of this gharana like Ustad Imrat Khan and Rais Bhai through the great Ustad Vilayat Khan, who guided me how to accompany and play with sitar. He was like a father figure to me. One of the greatest musicians, India has ever produced. He was like Govardhan Giri or the sacred stone of Mecca, we go around and pay our respect. I’m happy to play this concert as a tribute to him.”

Ustad Shujaat Khan opened in the traditional way with aalap, jod, jhala followed by a slow masitkhani gat and a few medium tempo compositions in the melodious evening raga Jhinjhoti. Even before starting, just his tuning of the ‘tarab’ (resonating) strings created the atmosphere of the raga, but the people outside could hardly enjoy the concert. The screen, of course, was a solace but the sound system was disastrous. There was more of noise and less of music.

The sound of sitar was so loud that tabla got totally drowned in it. One only presumes there would have been better balancing of the sound, inside the hall.

Spirited jugalbandi

‘Jewels of India’ by the Arawali Centre of Art & Culture Gurgaon, was a ticketed show hence much better organised. The sound manager Munir Dadarkar came along especially from Mumbai for the perfect ambiance. Zakir himself anchored the memorable show as a ‘jugalbandi’ and said, “It is a great pleasure and privilege to play with Niladri Kumar, who is one of the incredible musicians of the younger generation, like the cricketers we have! Please welcome Niladri Kumar, I’m here just by the way!”

Niladri Kumar

Niladri Kumar   | Photo Credit: Photo: A. M. Faruqui

The main raga Charukeshi had detailed aalap, jod jhala followed by a slow and a medium tempo composition in Teentala. The romantic Tilak-Kamod came as a delightful dessert, after the main course, in the Thumri Dadra vein, where Zakir accompanied innovatively with octo-pad, and couple of tablas together.

The tonal quality of Niladri’s sitar, the elaboration of the main raga in the lower octave (Mandra Saptak) and the long sustained meends of four-five swaras, were remarkable. The gat was studded with harmonised phrases, intricate intertwined melody, rhythm based patterns of hide and seek with the tabla and the dramatic pauses. The difficult and crystal clear sizzling swooping taans sparkled like chiselled gems.

Zakir would go simply inaudible during the nuanced passages and would enthral with his charisma during the rhythmic interludes. The spirit of play, the laughter and the frisson of discourse between the two sounded like an ideal jugalbandi.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 7:41:20 PM |

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