Re: Zakir Hussain
I agree that Zakir is genius, but I prefer Trilok Gurtu, especially his work with McClaughlin in the late 80's. I don't know any tabla players that don't regard the drum set equally with tabla. I've been playing drum set for 40 years and tabla for 20. They both have their own idiosyncrasies. Like myself, many tabla players lean towards drummers like Tony Williams, Jon Christiansen, and Bob Moses, because of their frequent use of polyrhythms, metric modulation, and other techniques that give their drumming a very organic quality.
I've also been reading a lot recently about sonic theology and the exploration of the phenomenon of sound as the ultimate reality. I think it's consideration is of extreme importance to playing any kind of music. It's a large division between musicians of the East and the West.