Abbos Kosimov is a master doyra player and innovator in the history of frame drumming. Both a traditional master and a contemporary trandsetter, Kosimov has expanded the range and repertory of Uzbekistan’s primary percussion instrument, to the point where all younger players replicate his techniques.
Kosimov grew up in a family of musicians in Uzbekistan. His father played santoor (hammer dulcimer) and his brother the ney (flute). Kosimov started taking doyra lessons at age 10 with Tochi Nogamo, the leading teacher of the tradition.
Up to the age of 20, Kosimov focused on classic rhythms and solos. He mastered the fundamentals quickly, and then branched out on his own, leading him in unanticipated directions. “Back home in Uzbekistan,” Kosimov said, “I practiced a lot, 6 or 7 hours a day. I listened to jazz music, drum set players, conga players, jembe players, tabla, and I mixed it all together and put it on doyra.”
Today, Kosimov lives in Sacramento, California, and plays with the group Sounds and Rhythms of Afghanistan (SARA). Uzbekistan and Afghanistan share history and culture, and this groundbreaking group gives him an opportunity to show his virtuosity and particular style.
Kosimov’s fellow percussionist in SARA, tabla virtuoso Salar Nader, calls him “the magician of the doyra.”
No prior player has come close to Kosimov’s modernizations. Inspired by North Indian tabla players, Kosimov worked on his finger tapping technique, perfecting soft and hard strokes, and developing personalized rolls and slaps. He mastered rhythms in different time signatures, 7/8, 11/8 and others.
In 2008, Kosimov was a guest musician on one of Zakir Hussain’s Masters of Percussion tours in the United States. This is where Salar Nader first heard him, and was amazed to hear such proficiency in so many styles of music from the humble doyra.
Nader was then in the process of forming an ensemble to play Afghan music, and Kosimov seemed an ideal addition. Uzbek and Afghan music are very close. Moreover, Uzbek-Afghans account for over 20% of the country’s population. Kosimov’s talent with North Indian classical music—another important ingredient in Afghan music—was also a great benefit.
Since moving to the United States in 2005, Kosimov has performed with a wide range of renowned musicians.
A Time 2 Love, with Stevie Wonder (Motown, 2005)
Hand’Stan, with Tantana (2006)
Rainbow, with Kronos Quartet, Alim & Fargana Qasimov, and Homayoun Sakhi (Smithsonian Folkways, 2010)
Infinite Rhythm (Audio Telepathy Records, 2012)
A Thousand Thoughts, with Kronos Quartet (Nonesuch, 2014)
Euphonic (Sunanda Records, 2015)