Zakir Hussain and just five of his many collaborations

Longtime collaborators Edgar Meyer (from left), Béla Fleck and Zakir Hussain will return to road this year.

A pioneer in the world music movement, tabla master Zakir Hussain has collaborated with icons of other genres, including rock, jazz, folk and classical music. His artistic partners run into dozens, most notably  including Shakti, the fusion group that he founded 50 years ago with British guitarist John McLaughlin.

Other important collaborations have included Planet Drum with Mickey Hart, Tabla Beat Science, Sangam with Charles Lloyd and Eric Harland, and recordings and performances with rockers George Harrison, Van Morrison and the Grateful Dead; jazz greats Dave Holland, Joe Henderson, Airto Moreira, Pharoah Sanders and Billy Cobham; choreographer Mark Morris and the Kodo drum troupe. 

Here are video clips of Hussain and his many artistic collaborators:

Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer and Zakir Hussain

Leading virtuosos on their respective instruments of banjo, bass and tabla, Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer and Zakir Hussain move with ease among the worlds of classical, bluegrass and world music. After first touring together in 2009, the three will reunite for concerts this year; joining them will be special guest Rakesh Chaurasia on Indian flute.


Named after the Hindu goddess of creation, the acoustic band Shakti fuses jazz and South Asian music. Along with Zakir Hussain, British guitarist John McLaughlin formed the band after studying the Indian veena, a lute-like instrument related to the sitar. Shakti will mark its 50th anniversary with a world tour and new studio album in 2023.

Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum

Formed in 1991, the percussion supergroup Planet Drum is helmed by  Mickey Hart of the rock band Grateful Dead. With Zakir Hussain on tabla, Nigeria’s Sikiru Adepoju on the apala (a West African hourglass-shaped drum) and Puerto Rico’s Giovanni Hidalgo on the congas and timbales, Planet Drum explores the spiritual and primal power of percussion. Its debut disc won the first-ever Grammy Award for best world music album.


Led by Zakir Hussain and jazz bassist-composer Dave Holland, Crosscurrents explores the vibrant relationship between jazz and Indian classical music, both of which use improvisation as a core tenet. Hussain and Holland also have performed as a duo.

With a little help from George Harrison

In 1972, former Beatles guitarist George Harrison invited Zakir Hussain to record “Living in the Material World,” the follow-up to his blockbuster  masterpiece solo album, “All Things Must Pass” (1970). Though Hussain wanted to perform on a drum kit instead of the tabla, he recalls that Harrison persuaded him to reconsider. "George looked at me and said, ‘You are here because you have something unique to offer. If you want to play drums, that's fine. But then you will join the 5,000 other drummers who are waiting in line to play with me.’

“That was the day I dropped the idea of wanting to be a rock drummer and focus on making my instrument speak all the languages of rhythm that exists on this planet. I can't thank George enough for straightening me out.”