Tarteeb — The start of a new trend here
Yousuf Kerai was introduced to Indian classical music at the age of eight and learned to sing and play the harmonium under the tutelage of the late Master Babu Khan. His interest in the tabla grew into an obsession and when he was sixteen, he was accepted as a student of the tabla maestro, Ustad Khurshid Hussain of Karachi. Yousuf graduated from Bennington College with a B.A. in Mathematics in 2005 followed by a Masters degree in teaching mathematics in 2006. While at Bennington, he was a regular rhythm accompanist for the dance classes held at the college, performed annually in music festivals, composed and performed music for plays, performed for dance workshops, and worked with music faculty and conducted sessions for some of their courses. In Northern Virginia, where he taught high school for three years, Yousuf performed at various private and public venues such as the Gandhi Memorial Center, University of Virginia, and James Madison University where he had the privilege of performing before Archbishop Desmond Tutu. (PeaceNiche)
The venue was packed on all the days. From little children to teenagers to young people to middle agers and old men. Tarteeb was a wonderful experience of our classical music, composed to be played by an orchestra or multi-player performance by Yousuf. The audience cheered with joy at each piece and at lovely solos and taans.
The group that played with Yousuf's exquisite tabla had Ustaad Khurshid Hussain and his son Zoeb Hussain, a remarkable young tabla player. Also there was Sajid Hussain (a brilliant sitar player) with his son, Shahroze Hussain — a good sitar player (and a vocalist, too). Gul Hussein, a sarangi player who is one of the few left in Karachi, accompanied them. BTW, for foreigners, the surname — Hussain —does not tie them all together as a family. It's just a common surname name here.
The last day's event was better than the first two, which were brilliant in their own ways. The pieces they played had an opening piece. Then there was Mand ('Kesariya' - with vocal refrain by Shahroze), Hans Dhun (or Hansdhwani, as some call it), exquisitely well-played Aiman, colossal tabla performances with Khurshid playing with both the tabla players and, also, alone. Sajid was out of this world, as usual.
Yousuf's compositions were lovely as was his tabla performance. (He also teaches tabla at PeaceNiche.) Zoeb did an amazing job. Shahzore thrilled us with exquisite meends and sürs.
On the last night, after the main performance was over, the team played Amir Khusrau's Chaap Tilak Sab Chheeni Ray, as a bonus. It rocked the boat for the audience with remarkable playing by Sajid and the rest.
We hope to see them do a lot more in the next year and get many young people joining them. A great deal of music needs to be instilled back into our youngsters and the time is right.