Naperville virtuoso drummer Kalyan Pathak brings expertise on tabla to Chicago, world stages

Karen Jordan Image
Monday, May 13, 2024
Naperville drummer brings expertise on tabla to Chicago, world stages
Kalyan Pathak is an expert table player, a drum unique to India that he has been playing since he was a child.

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- With quick and nimble fingers, Kalyan Pathak makes intricate sounds on the tabla, a drum unique to India that he has played since he was a child.

"I started playing my father's drum at 3, 3-and-a-half years old, and he recognized I could play, so he said 'Let's get you some lessons," Pathak said.

Pathak studied diligently, and became an expert as a teenager. Since then, he's expanded his repertoire to other forms of percussion, wanting to master the language of each instrument.

That skill brought him to Chicago years ago on a music scholarship.

"If I play Afro-Cuban drums, if I play West African drums, if I play Brazilian tradition, Middle Eastern traditions; I've studied all six drumming traditions of the world," he said.

Pathak has become a sought after percussionist, touring the world and collaborating with other musicians across different genres. He's even backed up Aretha Franklin at Ravinia.

"The Queen of Soul always honored me by taking a picture with her and meeting my family," he said.

When he's not on the road or in the recording booth, Pathak is in the studio of his Naperville home, where he continues to study different types of music.

"My diversity has paid off, that I'm playing from rock and roll to jazz to funk, to all kinds of music," he said. "I'm trying to play with all kinds of scenes."

Pathak also plays with the Chicago-based Tributeosaurus. He's been with them for more than 20 years. Their next gig is June 7 in Wheeling, where they will play the music of Tom Petty.