"Tabla is one of those rare blessed instruments that has fit in this time and with this generation. It is one of the most loved and desired percussion instruments anywhere in the globe," Ustad Zakir Hussain told reporters in an interview. (Agencies)
"If you watch television, Hollywood movies or Bollywood movies, then the background score that you hear is of the tabla... there is not a single movie I know that does not have a sound of tabla in it," he said.
Tabla, he argued, has become a rhythm instrument of choice for a lot of composers, for lot of remix artists, for DJs, for rappers, hip-hop people and of course for the Indian people whether it is the ghazal, qawali or a Bollywood movie.
"So it is an instrument that fits into all these genres of music and therefore it is one of the most universally loved percussion instrument in the similar way like bongo drum or a drum set have been for the last many decades," Hussain said.
The 63-year-old musician feels that the young crop of tabla players have also contributed a lot to spread the popularity of the instrument.
"One other thing about tabla is that now we have a whole bunch of young tabla players who are really very very good. And so it becomes easier for tabla to be promoted through their talents and performances," he said.
The Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awardee is currently on a multi-city tour in North America called 'Zakir Hussain and Masters of Percussion'. Beginning in Houston on March 19, the tour would take him to New York, Berkeley in California, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, Portland, Washington DC, Seattle, Charleston, Durham and Winchester.
"It is a very extensive and pretty huge tour of master of percussion this year," he said.
Joining the tour are Selvaganesh Vinayakram (Kanjira and Ghatam), Steve Smith (Western Drums), Niladri Kumar (Sitar), Dilshad Khan, (Sarangi), Deepak Bhatt (Dhol), Vijay Chavan (Dholki). Steve Smith is the first western drummer Zakir Hussain has ever selected for Masters of Percussion.
In four cities (Houston, Berkeley, Durham, and New York) they will be joined by the distinguished Kathak dancer Antonia Minnecola. New York will also see performance by singer Hariharan.
"You know this troupe represents the interesting mix of rhythm tradition that comes from the Rajasthan region, from Punjab, from the coastal region of Maharashtra, from south India and of course from the western world and all tied into the beautiful visual impact of it through the Kathak dance element," the Ustad said.
"Tabla is one of those rare blessed instruments that has fit in this time and with this generation. It is one of the most loved and desired percussion instruments anywhere in the globe," Ustad Zakir Hussain told reporters in an interview.