We were in School Together in Mumbai in the 1970s…Tabla Maestro Ustad Fazal Qureshi & Me…Ofcourse he became an Ustad later….he was a year junior to me and was my Cricket team Wicket Keeper and as Captain it was my responsibility to literally round up my Team to come play the Inter School matches…I distinctly remember,one fine morning in 1975 I think,Fazal had not reported for the Match…We desperately needed him,as he was our only Keeper !….rushed to his house and pulled him out of Bed…he was sleeping !…. to play the match !…probably reverberating in the Tabla’s Taal in his Dreams !
Ofcourse his Pedigree is illustrious…father the renowned Tabla Maestro,late Ustad Allah Rakha and his brothers Taufiq and the flamboyant Ustad Zakir Hussain…..but Fazal has always been different in the sense he loves experimenting with different sounds and it has been his endeavour to create soulful compositions from just plain cacophony and Noise when fusing Classical and Western Musical Instruments to play together
…and last evening I reconnected with him after years….it was warm meeting him and his lovely wife and young daughter …..warmer as we refreshed some lovely memories of school days……this was after 600 of us were regaled with some interesting Fusion in an uninterrupted two hour session from 7 pm to 9 pm on the Lawns of Willingdon Sports Club under a clear starry Sky with a cool breeze blowing…..
Ustad Fazal Qureshi & those renowned accompanying him were in their element…we had the superb Sabir Khan on the Sarangi…he even sang a Rajasthani Folk Song !….Sridhar Parthsarthy on the Mridangam,Navin Sharma on the Dholak,Mukul Dongre on Drums…his Solo was quite superb, Ravi Iyer on the Electric Guitar…he has taught my son to play the Guitar…. and Sonu on the Bass Guitar….they were supported in the initial hour by students of the Ustad Allah Rakha Institute
…so what would one expect to sound like Noise in ordinary hands was transformed to Higher level of Fusion by these Maestros…and our ears were soothed with a fascinating fusion Blend of Classical,Blues,Soul and even traces of Hip Hop and Jazz
….and it is lovely that the Ustad has developed a very fluent and easy going sense of humour…it was evident when he introduced his compositions
For me,two pieces stood out…the initial jugalbandi that set up the Evening….between Ustad Fazal Querishi on the Tabla and Sabir Khan on the Sarangi…Fabulous….and later the Percussion Fusion between the Drums,Mridangam,Tabla and Dholak…the Rhythm got to you….For Me the Sound System was quite good,though there was a faint hum on stage…and Ustad Fazal Qureshi confessed that they had not reckoned with the Dew..it was causing some Tuning Issues….I just could not make this out…as his Fingers rolled over and played the Tabla,the sound reverberated quite ‘kadak’ and brilliantly….if ever they did miss a beat,It missed me !