This is a picture of Ustad Ahmed Jaan Thirakwa, a legendary tabla player of the 20th century – widely considered the best tabla player of his time.
I felt inspired to post this photo here as he is one of my all-time favourite tabla players and a towering figure in the world of tabla. I have sometimes wondered what it is about his playing that is so attractive. Many tabla players have excellent technique, excellent knowledge of compositions, speed, clarity, dexterity… when I listen to Thirakwa Khan-sahib’s playing though I get the feeling that he has transcended technique and is simply one with his instrument. His playing seems effortless, as if he is not really trying. There is a mesmerising quality about his solo playing, which is a quality I have heard in almost no other tabla player, with the notable exception of Ustad Latif Ahmed Khan of Delhi, who passed away in the late 1980s and left us with very few recordings.
An excellent recording of Thirakwa Khan-sahib’s tabla solo playing is on the following CD released by Simla House records: Ahmedjaan Thirakwa 1964 Tabla Solo
Keen to hear your thoughts and comments – please leave your thoughts in the comments field below, alternatively feel free to send me an email (shivabreathes at gmail dot com).