I attended a live concert of Ustad Zakir Hussain and Niladri Kumar some time back and it was amazing. When I booked ticket for the event I expected that Niladri Kumar would perform with Sitar-func and Ustaad ji would give a solo performance but it was my great fortune that they performed a duet.
The atmosphere was amazing. People knew what they are going to receive. There were music enthusiasts, trained Hindustani and Carnatic Classical musicians and fans waiting for the maestros to perform. It was a theatre like concert hall. When both of them arrived on stage, we all stood and clapped and clapped and clapped. The hall was vibrating with that sound and I was thanking myself for going there, already :D
When they were asked to lit the lamp to inaugurate the ceremony, Niladri let Zakir ji lit the lamp first, out of respect. And Zakir ji lit the lamp by sitting on one knee in a lord Hanuman-like pose, and it felt very devotional.
Niladri Kumar was playing Hindustani classical on Sitar, and not Zitar (a combination of Sitar and Guitar, an instrument that he made and usually plays on). Ustaad ji let Niladri lead throughout the concert and Niladri in turn amazed all of us with his amazing skills. He was on fire. From slow aalap sections to exciting jhala sections, he was fabulous throughout. They both did amazing jugalbandi sections also. Zakir ji was letting Niladri lead but he was active all the time, giving interesting responses to Niladri ji’s lead and then taking everybody into some other world with his Tabla solos. I am pretty sure he has his own bole(s) on tabla. He does not just play, he performs, magic!
It was a gem of a concert for any music enthusiast or avid listener, a deep dive into ocean of elixir. I could not understand it much technically but enjoyed it from starting till end. Every once in a while, I was closing my eyes to listen to intricacies of what they were playing and each time I did so, I ended up in some kind of zone, just lost in transition, joyous and savouring every bit of music I was listening to, as if I was high.
Apart from being extraordinarily skilled at what they do, they both are very humble and humorous. It was a surely a lifetime concert, a show like I had never seen, a show of childlike playfulness, extraordinary musical prowess and captivating charm!