New York-based bassist and producer Bill Laswell has always been a man with his ear to the ground, quick to sense any coming seismic shifts in the musical landscape. In the late 1990s, he had been noting the proliferation of Indian tabla-infused drum 'n' bass music from people such as Talvin Singh, Joi and Nitin Sawnhey. Laswell, whose own 1993 track "Mantra" with Material had kickstarted much of this music, decided it was time to put together a supersession. The result was Tabla Beat Science's "Tala Matrix" (Palm Pictures, 2001), which featured the percussive talents of Talvin Singh, Karsh Kale and India's undisputed maestro of the tabla, Zakir Hussain (most commonly known as Zakir).

The son of Ravi Shankar's famed tabla accompanist, the late Ustad Allarakha, Zakir rose to prominence in the 1970s, playing with guitarist John McLaughlin in the pioneering Indo-jazz fusion group Shakti, sitting in with The Grateful Dead and playing on the "Apocalypse Now" soundtrack with Mickey Hart's Diga Rhythm Band. Zakir quickly became the hottest musician on the Indian classical scene -- playing over 150 concerts a year -- but his greater impact may be in how he has expanded the whole concept of what the tabla can do. While his father's generation concentrated on breaking Indian classical music overseas, Zakir has attempted to cross-breed India's rhythms with, well, whoever can keep up with him.

Tabla Beat Science may be Hussain's most ambitious project yet. After garnering acclaim from just a few one-off live shows, TBS became a touring band, despite the difficulties of getting all its musicians together in one place at the same time.