hussain vs. shankar

Zakir Hussain, Shankar, T.H. Vinayakram, Gingger at the Vogue theatre in Vancouver. after hearing their work on recordings, i wasn’t sure how it would come across live. it was amazing, naturally. we ordered our tickets online and ended up with front row, left centre seating. we had a really great view of Hussain and Vinayakram, but couldn’t see Shankar or Gingger as well. although Shankar is a consumate performer and Gingger is quite the looker, i really went to see Hussain. it worked out well.

here is a scene from the performance:

a high-pitched sound comes out of the monitor. it visibly annoys Hussain.

Hussain: please turn the monitor off.

continues playing. monitor continues to buzz.

Hussain: (louder) please turn the monitor off.

continues playing. monitor continues to buzz. Hussain bats the microphone out of his way in frustration. he plays for only a few minutes before Shankar comes over to move the microphone back in front of the tablas.

Shankar: (smiling nervously) they can’t hear you.

Hussain: yes they can. it sounds better this way.

Shankar: no, no, they can’t hear you.

Hussain: it sounds better this way!

they push the microphone around a bit until Hussain gives in and continues playing. some time later he tries to nonchalantly push the microphone a little further away.

in Hussain’s defense, the tablas sounded great with minimal amplification.

in the end, few things stand up to a 10+ minute ghatam solo by Vinayakram. what an intense little man.

Gingger looked nervous and out of place. it was interesting watch her watching the chemistry between the other players. she was too shy to take a solo, even as Shankar prodded her to do so. Gingger appears to be trying to learn more about improvised playing even as she takes part in the performance. it would be freaky as hell trying to improvise with players who have decades of experience together.