Thanks to a teenage history of fighting for embarrassing '90s alt-rock bands on the car stereo, I don't know my way around North Indian classical music as well as I might. Another thing I didn't realize? You can't show up late.
A disgusting mid-March torrential downpour pushed me back to an 8:11 arrival for Zakir Hussain‘s 8 PM show at the Rose Theatre at Jazz at Lincoln Center. I was greeted by a guarded door, a closed-circuit TV monitoring the performance inside, and the typical theater promise that we’d be escorted inside by ushers as soon as there was an acceptable break in the performance. The problem with this is that, given the North Indian classical program, when you add up the introductory alap of the raga and the long-form virtuoso freak-out solo that follows, you often end up with a 45-minute piece. This quite distressed an elderly Indian woman who ended up stranded outside the theater with me. My distraught friend’s laments convinced them to let us in earlier than planned, thankfully, at which point we were loudly scolded, mid-performance, by Zakir while rooting around for empty seats. It wasn’t the shout out one usually hopes for.