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Pandit Arvind Kumar Azad

Pandit Arvind Kumar Azad



Arvind Kumar Azad was born in Jamshedpur, the largest city in Jharkhand, to a family of tabla players who originally hailed from Bihar. He received his initial training in the instrument from his father, Lal Baboo Prasad, an eminent tabla player. Subsequently, he studied under veteran percussionist Jagdish Shankar Mishra, popularly known as Lallu Maharaj, and Kishan Maharaj, both of the Benares gharana (a specialist school of Indian classical music).

Azad has won recognition among the stalwarts of the music circle for the control, balance, and quality of tone of his tabla renditions. His melodious and pristine Benares gharana tabla playing, along with the perfected use of his bayan (the larger drum in a set, used for a deeper bass), is highly acclaimed. It is believed by connoisseurs of music that playing the Teental theka, a particular rhythmic pattern vocalised as ‘Na Dhin Dhin Na’, with just one finger at a tremendously fast speed is the unique specialty of the Benares gharana. Azad is known for exhibiting this feat with clarity and emotion. He describes his passion for tabla as, ‘The tabla, for me, is not merely a skin-covered percussion instrument! It is neither just a leading rhythm instrument nor the ruling accompanying instrument, but is the way of life; it is life itself for me!’

He is a sought-after accompanist for vocal and instrumental music, as well as for classical dance forms like Kathak. He has provided accompaniment to leading performers at prestigious music festivals held across India. Prominent among them are Ram Narayan, M.S. Gopalakrishnan, Girija Devi, Rohini Bhate, Birju Maharaj, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Rajan and Sajan Mishra, D.K. Datar, Dr N. Rajam, Shahid Parvez, and Rashid Khan. He is equally known for his solo recitals and has travelled extensively in India and abroad for performances. He has also conducted lectures, tabla demonstrations, and seminars.

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