Preview: Zakir Hussain & Masters of Percussion at the Southern Theatre

  • Susana Millman photo
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From the April 4, 2012 edition

If you’d like to hear world-class Indian music by an artist who worked with George Harrison, you could drive two and a half hours to Cleveland this week and pay a minimum of $96 to watch sitar master Ravi Shankar play. Or you could drive to downtown Columbus and pay $28 to see tabla master Zakir Hussain with his Masters of Percussion.

Hussain performed on the Beatle’s 1973 album “Living in the Material World,” and he also has collaborated with Bela Fleck, Yo-Yo Ma and former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. So why aren’t we as familiar with Hussain’s name? Probably because drummers get no love.

The tabla is a set of two small hand drums played while seated. Using finger and wrist movements, the percussionist creates so many different tones that it almost forms a melody. Hussain will be accompanied by musicians on a variety of other Indian drums, a bamboo flute and a sarangi, the main bowed instrument used in Northern Indian music. Together, the ensemble’s sound — so foreign to our Western ears — will transport you far, far away.