Sacred Beats: Zakir Hussain with Charles Lloyd, Eric Harland, and Members of Remember Shakti at Carnegie Hall
Similarly, when Selvaganesh got going, he brought more expression to his little instrument than most drum kits see in their careers. One solo lasted at least five minutes, winding up and down in hypnotic intensity. And when the last beats faded away, the quiet filled with perhaps the loudest applause of the night.
By far the most excited guest of the night was Selvaganesh's father, T. H. "Vikky" Vinayakram, master of a clay pot percussion instrument known as the ghatam. He engaged Hussain in a percussive display that was both dazzling and playful. Gray hair flying, his hands rolling over the instrument, he engaged Hussain in a percussive display that was both dazzling and playful. As he closed, he tossed his ghatam up in the air, prompting Hussain to do the same with his tabla.
When Vinayakram left the stage, final guest Bela Fleck joined the group, once again proving that there's nothing he can't do on banjo. While lacking the lightning chops and fluidity of Shrinivas, his conversational adaptability brought a light-hearted ease to the music.
All night long, Hussain mixed musicianship with a warm humility. At the end, his fleet hands and virtuoso skills were unquestionable, but he had also offered up moments of subtle dynamic beauty. Every musician called to the Carnegie Hall stage had had their chance to shine, and there was a sense of great contentment throughout the hall as Fleck and the four Remember Shakti players jammed over a final tune.
After so many high velocity solos, one expected either the tabla or the hands themselves to start smoking. And after such a performance, clapping two palms together seemed too simple. Nonetheless, the Carnegie Hall crowd, which had started enthusiastic and drawn in more with each pulse, sent out their own polyrhythms. At the center of the grateful swell, Hussain wiped away his sweat, smiled wide, and bowed.