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Ustad Allarakha Khan (Abbaji)


Ustad Allarakha Khan was born on April 29, 1919, at Phagwal village of Jammu, 80 kms from Lahore. He was fascinated with the sound of tabla since the age of 12, when he was staying with his uncle at Gurdaspur.

The determined young lad ran away from house and became a disciple of Mian Qader Baksh of the Punjab Gharana, who initiated him into the world of music. He learnt 'Raag Vidya' (melody aspect) from Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan of Patiala Gharana. His regimen of practice and dedication were the stuff of legend: hours upon hours of hard, disciplined practice cultivating his skills would eventually pay off.

He started his musical career as an accompanist in Lahore and then as an All India Radio staffer in Mumbai in 1940. Soon after he would compose music for a couple of Hindi films from 1943-48.


The venerable master would later achieve world reknown as Pandit Ravi Shankar's chief accompanist during his apex in the 1960s, delighting audiences in the West with his percussive wizardry, both as an uncanny accompanist with flawless timing and sensitivity as well as a soloist where he was a master of improvisation, a prolific composer and an electric showman.

The Ustad popularized the art of tabla playing all over the globe, elevating the status and respect of his instrument. Abbaji (as he was affectionately known) also bridged the gap between Carnatic music and Hindustani music by performing with both reknowned Carnatic musicians as well as other Hindustani stalwarts.

In a message of condolence to Mr Khan's family, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said he was a colossus of Indian classical music. "The country has lost an accomplished maestro whose mastery over the tabla created waves all over the world," Mr Vajpayee said. President K R Narayanan said with Mr Khan's demise "an uncommon pulsation has been stilled. His wrists, palms and fingers produced from the tabla a percussion of magical quality which maintained the tenor and tempo of India's uniquely assimilative musical culture."

He once said in an interview that when he played outside India, his aim was to teach the Western world about the beauty of Indian music. When asked to say a few words at his 80th birthday celebrations last year, he played the tabla instead. "This is the language I know," he told the audience. He is survived by his wife Bavi Bengum, three sons, Zakir Hussain, Fazal Qureshi and Taufiq Qureshi, his daughter Khurshida Qureshi, and nine grandchildren.


Abbajis web page with details on his musical career can be found @

Zakir Hussain is today appreciated both in the field of percussion and in the music world at large as an international phenomenon. A classical tabla virtuoso of the highest order, his consistently brilliant and exciting performances have not only established him as a national treasure in his own country, India, but gained him worldwide fame. His playing is marked by uncanny intuition and masterful improvisational dexterity, founded in formidable knowledge and study. The favorite accompanist for many of India’s greatest classical musicians anddancers, he has not let his genius rest there. Widely considered a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement,
Zakir’s contribution to world music has been unique, with many historic collaborations, including Shakti, which he founded with John McLaughlin and L. Shankar, Remember Shakti, the Diga Rhythm Band, Making Music, Planet Drum with Mickey Hart, Tabla Beat Science, Sangam with Charles Lloyd and Eric Harland and recordings and performances with artists as diverse as George Harrison, YoYo Ma, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison, Airto Moreira, Pharoah Sanders, Billy Cobham, Mark Morris, Rennie Harris, and the Kodo drummers. His music and extraordinary contribution to the music world were honored in April, 2009, with four widely-heralded and sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall’s Artist Perspective series. 

Zakirjis web page with details on his musical career can be found @

Yogesh Samsi is one of those rare tabla players whose reputation has been built on his consummate artistry in both fields of accompaniment and solo playing. The son of the renowned vocalist Pandit Dinkar Kaikini, Yogesh Samsi was initiated into tabla by his father at the tender age of four, and later received guidance under Pandit H.Taranath Rao. However it was under the gifted tutelage of the legendary Ustad Alla Rakha that Yogesh received intense training for twenty-three years and, matured into a fine young tabla player.


Yogeshji has accompanied almost all of he top ranking instrumentalists, vocalists and dancers of India, including Ustad Vilayat Khan, Pt Dinkar Kaikini, Pt Bhimsen Joshi, Pt Shivkumar Sharma, Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Pt Birju Maharaj.


Apart from accompaniment, Yogesh has performed numerous memorable solo performances in India and abroad. He has also had the privilege of accompanying his teacher Ustad Alla Rakha and his son the great maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain in their solo tabla recitals.


In addition to performing, Yogesh has a sound scholastic approach to the learning of tabla and has conducted successful workshops in world music centers in India, U.S.A, U.K, South Africa, Australia and Japan. Yogesh is a highly respected & intuitive teacher. His syllabus for learning tabla, designed specifically for teachers in the West, will undoubtedly serve to promote the advancement of tabla studies worldwide.


With the ever-growing influences of modern and fusion music, Yogesh Samsi still strives to keep up his revered Guru's word of preserving the tradition in the presentation of tabla solo.

Yogeshjis facebook fan page with details on his musical career can be found @ 

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