Ashwin Batish & Zakir Hussain In Concert

Sitar and Tabla North Indian Classical Music
by Dan-Einar Toft

It seemed like telepathy Ashwin Batish and Zakir Hussain traded licks and phrases back and forth as if they were having a conversation. Sometimes they broke into complicated unison parts in which Zakir's tabla-drums matched Ashwin's sitar note for note.

They even seemed to tell each other jokes with their instruments. And then they'd wander away, each lost in his own exploration of the raga form until they'd suddenly burst into their intense dialogue again.

The audience was a diverse bunch, with a sprinkling of turbans, robes, saris, beads, and even a few rastafarians with dreadlocks and glassy eyes evident. But they all gave off the same warm, friendly vibes that Batish and Co. exuded from the UCSC performing Arts stage.

And that's one of the keys to appreciating North Indian classical music; It's not music to be analysed. Don't listen and try to understand; just try to be receptive to the emotions you experience while the music plays over you. On the one hand, it's classical music with ancient, iron-clad rules, but it's also totally improvised - like a Saturday-night jam between old friends. ....

1984 Goodtimes. Printed by permission.

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