Marcus Wise is a top-tier tabla player, poetic and genre-bending. An ambassador of Eastern classical music, he makes Indian sounds accessible to American music fans, collaborating with folk, jazz, gospel and pop artists.

He has performed and recorded with such artists as The Doors’ John Densmore, sitar player David Whetstone, R&B singer Alexander O’Neal, classical Indian musician Nirmala Rajasekar, jazz artist Anthony Cox, cellist David Darling, sarod player Bruce Hamm and pop producer Jimmy Jam (Janet Jackson, Chaka Khan, Mary J. Blige).

the Deeper Story . . .

One of the first professional tabla players in the United States, Marcus has been playing for over 35 years. Born and raised in Minnesota, Marcus left home at 19, following the death of his brother in Vietnam and his father a year later. He hitchhiked to New York City, flew to Paris and spent some time in Spain before traveling to North Africa, Persia and India-- an experience that changed his life. Marcus returned to India in 1975 to apprentice with tabla player Ustad Diam Ali Qadri. They had met when Ustad was a visiting artist at the University of Minnesota, and Marcus was invited to study and live at his home in Jaipur.

It has been 35 years since Marcus first went to India to learn to play the tablas and 37 since he first started studying percussion with Celso Maldonado in Minneapolis. Since then, he has toured around the world, performing in front of the Dalai Lama in 1989, when he received his Nobel Peace Prize, and making notable appearances on MTV (the 2000 reunion of The Doors) and VH1’s Storyteller Series. Marcus has made recordings with world-renowned guitarists Dean Magraw and Steve Tibbetts and has accompanied Minnesota Poet Laureate Robert Bly and Coleman Barks on their spoken word projects.

Although there were no musicians in his family, Marcus’ father and brother were both writers. Sharing their affinity for the spoken word, Marcus has worked extensively with poets and playwrights. Strongly connected to the Minneapolis arts community, he has composed music for the Guthrie Theater’s 1991 production of Medea and played for the opening of the Walker Art Center in 2005. Marcus still makes Minneapolis his home and continues to perform, record and teach tablas privately from his home.

my guru

Sri Diam Ali

Sri Diam Ali is one of the greatest exponents of the Farrakhabad School of Tabla Drumming, born in Dehli, India on the 22nd of June, 1935 who passed from us February 21,1995.

Shri Diam Ali actually inherited music from a galaxy of well known artists in vocal-tabla, Pakhwaj and sarangi. His respected father, Shri Shur Kahn, was the well known sarangi player and celebrated court musician of Indora.

Sri Diam Ali got his initial training from his grandfather, Ustad Mohamed Jan Khan. He then embellished his art of tabla under the guidance of his uncle, Ahmed Ali Kahn and also picked up finer points from Ustad Jimm Kahn. finally he accomplished his tabla art under the personal guidance of his father's elder brother, Sri Mehood Shah Varshi, India's well-known tabla and Pakhawaj player.

Through radio, television, and stage performance, Shri Diam Ali became a virtual celebrity due to his richly endowed art, and touched the rarest heights in the field of music. Yet Shri Diam Ali remained unchanged. He was always unassuming, easily approachable, honest and helpful and without stigma. Perhaps that is why the always smiling Shri Diam Ali commands the respect of one and all the colleague artist and the audience alike. But if you could have spoke to Shri Diam Ali, he would say, please don't call me an artist I am a novice trying to learn. I am really grateful to the public for their generous love, affection and appreciation of my art.

Sri Diam Ali had the good fortune of being a devoted fan of Shri Kahn Saheb Ustad Ahmed Jan Thirakwa to whom he remained obedient. Diam Ali simply charms the music lovers by enacting with perfect ease the complicated and high speed allegro, which is a special feature of the farrakhabad gharana. The late Ustad Diam Ali Qadri had enriched himself through his respected performances with most of India's reputed vocalists and instrumentalists. It is a feast to listen to his tabla preserving the traditional style in perfect harmony with other performing artists.