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Zakir Hussain (tabla), alongside Edgar Meyer (upright bass), Béla Fleck (banjo). Photo courtesy RNH Events
Zakir Hussain (tabla), alongside Edgar Meyer (upright bass), Béla Fleck (banjo).  Photo courtesy RNH Events

Maestros will improvise a night to remember

The tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain returns to Dubai with an ensemble of unmatched musical maestros on Thursday for Nirvana 2013 - a fusion concert that promises to take its audience on a breathtaking musical journey.

The tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain returns to Dubai with an ensemble of maestros for Nirvana 2013 - a fusion concert that should take its audience on a breathtaking journey.

Nirvana 2013 will feature Zakir Hussain (tabla) alongside Edgar Meyer (upright bass), Béla Fleck (banjo), Upalappu Srinivas (mandolin) and Rakesh Chaurasia (flute).

The event

"This will be an experience unlike any other music collaboration Dubai has ever seen. It is a mix of the best of eastern classical and western jazz, folk, bluegrass and world fusion," says Gaurav Verma, the director of the RNH Group which is organising the concert. "Each musician is a maestro of his respective instrument. Among the five of them, they have over 43 Grammys and other major awards. They do not record together, so the music on the evening will be one-of-a-kind. It will be impromptu and improvised."

Backed by decades of performing live with a wide range of musicians, Hussain - whose brilliance with percussion has earned him a place as the most celebrated and recognised classical tabla player in the world - is known for his improvisation.

"It is important to bring freshness in one's performance. Innovation and improvisation are an integral part of the process, only then it is possible to present traditional art in a modern package," says Hussain.

What to expect?

"Dubai is a melting pot of numerous cultures. What better place to perform music that comprises a blend of world folk, classical and fusion?" asks Hussain. "What you will see on stage is entirely impromptu and an improvisation of our moods. It's a dialogue between us which depends on the audience's reaction to each piece."

"We played Dubai four years ago and are looking forward to coming back," says Fleck. "We have a brand new piece that we have only played once so far. It is very risky, fast and intricate, but with an easy beat to follow."

"Even after rehearsals, a lot of the pieces are improvised on the spot," Chaurasia says. "It gives that personal touch to it. It also shows the great rapport and comfort shared between artists which comes out on stage through music."

"Whenever we play on the stage, I draw inspiration from each musician and also the audience. Whatever we create on the stage is spontaneous and nothing is preplanned," adds Srinivas.

The maestros

Hussain - son of the legendary Indian tabla player Alla Rakha - started touring at the age of 12. Today, he performs up to 150 concerts a year and is widely regarded as the most proficient classical Indian percussionist in the world.

The American banjo player Fleck - considered one of the world's most inventive and skilled players - is credited with reinventing the image and the sound of his instrument. The recipient of 14 Grammys, Fleck has been nominated 30 times and in more different categories than anyone in Grammy history.

The bassist and composer Edgar Meyer began studying the bass at the age of 5 under the instruction of his father and has been hailed by The New Yorker as "the most remarkable virtuoso in the relatively unchronicled history of his instrument". Collaborations are a central part of Meyer's work.

"Edgar and Bela have been playing together since 1983, when they first jammed in front of the Häagen Dazs store in Aspen, Colorado," Hussain says, explaining how the Nirvana group of five came together. "They were approached by the Nashville Symphony to compose their double concerto for banjo and bass in 2004. They contacted me [to join them] and I agreed. [Now] we are looking forward to performing in Dubai along with U Srinivas and Rakesh Chaurasia."

Srinivas - a winner of the Padma Shri Award in 1998 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2010 - trained in the Carnatic musical tradition of Southern India. He plays the electric mandolin and has collaborated with John McLaughlin, Michael Nyman and Michael Brook.

Nephew of the flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia, Rakesh Chaurasia started playing as a child and has travelled the world many times over. Despite his experimental work, Rakesh's heart truly lies in classical music.

With the city's passion for music and entertainment, Zakir Hussain's Nirvana - comprising virtuosos of their respective instruments from East and West - is exactly what the doctor ordered.

The details

- The concert will be held tomorrow at Sheikh Rashid Hall, World Trade Centre, Dubai

- Doors open at 7.30pm and the concert begins at 9.30pm

-Children above the age of 5 are welcome

Ticket prices

There are five price levels: Platinum (Dh1,500), Diamond (Dh1,000), Gold (Dh500), Silver (Dh250) and Bronze (Dh150). Tickets can be purchased at www.timeouttickets.com, or from select EMAX and Spinneys (audio/video) outlets. For more information, call 055 578 6888

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