10) He comes from a deep musical family: His father is Ustad Alla Rakha, the original master tabla player in sitarist Ravi Shankar's groundbreaking '60s ensemble.
9) At 48, Hussain's been studying and performing Indian classical and jazz-derived improvised music for more than four decades -- i.e., he's no world-beat poseur.
8) A bona fide "star" in both India and the United States, he was acknowledged as a "civilian of merit" and awarded the title Padma Shri by the Indian government in 1988, and two years later he received the Indo-American Award to recognize his contribution toward bridging cultural relations between the Asian subcontinent and the U.S.
7) One of the pioneers of legitimate world fusion, Hussain has developed a successful East-meets-West aesthetic, teaming up with other leaders in the field, including 10-string violinist Shankar, bandoneon innovator Dino Saluzzi, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, and Shakti guitarist Mahavishnu John McLaughlin.
6) His performance in 1996 at the San Francisco Jazz Fest-sponsored "Percussion Maestros of North & South India With Pharoah Sanders" was one of the most intoxicating concert experiences this music junkie has ever encountered.
5) A local hero, Hussain runs Moment Records out of San Anselmo, and teaches at Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael.
4) He often instructs audiences on the concepts behind his outrageous rhythm techniques without talking down to them.
3) He's got great hair and a charming stage persona.
2) This is the most compelling show on Yoshi's weeklong World Music Fest bill, and if it sells out then maybe the distinguished jazz club will take more chances with creative music and bag the likes of Diana Krall and Michael Feinstein.
1) Hussain is an inhuman freak whose mad skills on the tabla you've got to see to believe.
-- Sam Prestianni
Zakir Hussain appears on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 19 and 20, at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi's, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland (at Jack London Square). Tickets are $20; call (510) 238-9200.