Tabla master Zakir Hussain draws on all of his skills as a collaborative artist: “a decent sense of rhythm, the ability to listen and respond simultaneously, being able to fearlessly improvise and a commitment to tradition,” he said. “It will be my job to curate this conversation on the fly, which will be very exciting.”

It’s another “leap of faith” in a life’s journey that knows no bounds.

“There is a belief in our music world that every instrument has a spirit, and half the battle on your way to becoming a musician is to be accepted by the spirit,” said Hussain, who returns to Chicago for an SCP Special Concert on Oct. 6. (Joining him will be banjo master Bela Fleck, bassist Edgar Meyer and flutist Rakesh Chaurasia.) “That acceptance happened very early in my life,” Hussain said. “Tabla has been my best mate ever since I can remember.”

At 68, Hussain insists he’s still growing, learning and sharing. “Miles to go before I sleep,” he said. “There are many masters I want to collaborate with and learn from. But most importantly, I am only now beginning to get a deeper insight into the music of masters I have worked with over the past three decades. I feel I can be a better accompanist to them now than I was before.”

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared previously on Sounds and Stories.