Old favourites and new compositions find voice at the city’s newest jazz festival
Answering the need for new venues to promote music, Phoenix MarketCity is organising a two-day jazz festival. Besides acts like Refuge, Black Market, Project Albatross and Sanjay Divecha and the Jazz Trio, look out for artistes like Gino Banks (legendary Louis Banks’ son) and French bassist Mishko M’ba. “We’ve been working on the artiste line-up for the past six months, scouting musicians keeping in mind the patrons of the mall,” says curator Edison Prithviraj, of Exodus Events. We talk to some of the artistes before the show.
July 18-19, at 7 pm. Details: 30083008
How does Black Market comtemporarise jazz?
From the very beginning—from Louis Armstrong to the most complex Coltrane—jazz was always the music of freedom. A fundamental part of it involves taking contemporary music and using it as a vehicle for improvisation. We do this with popular tunes by artistes like Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, Radiohead and Michael Jackson, giving them our own take.
What’s the significance of your band’s name, Black Market?
We’re not legit. We haven’t received our license yet. That’s why we like to play the jazz way because jazz hasn’t got its authorisation letter yet either.
How is jazz singing different from other genres?
In the jazz approach, the difference is that the song is the means and not the end. It’s raw material for improvisation. And the music that happens is created in real time, no editing possible, using the song itself as raw material. This is why a jazz player doesn’t play a song the same way twice.
Why do you fuse jazz and folk?
Refuge’s (his band) music is a distillation of a lot of the sounds that inspire me—my interest in the earthiness and openness of folk sounds, as well as a keen interest in jazz harmony, swing and Indian rhythms. These sounds work together in synergy. When I compose, I try to say something while maintaining this balance of heart and mind.
Tell us about your influences.
Jazz harmony, swing rhythms, Indian classical and folk forms, West African rhythms, and a whole lot more that I can’t define. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with a large variety of musicians and musical styles. I tend to see these forms as vehicles of communication, and have been exploring this through the study and performance of improvised music over the past decade.
What defines Project Albatross’ sound?
Project Albatross is a completely new band. It is a chance for musicians that have played together in other bands to do something completely
new and different.
Do youu think jazz in India is evolving differently?
Jazz is not Indian in origin, but has been well received here by musicians because of its open and improvisatory nature. Jazz in India today is very unique because of its combination and fusion of traditional styles within it’s structures.
How would you describe Sanjay Divecha Jazz Trio’s music?
We play original compositions with an emphasis on improvisation. As is common in the jazz tradition, there is a lot of interplay between the guitar, bass and drums.
What challenges does jazz face today?
There is a unique quality to jazz—it is easily fused with other styles or genres. Hence there is African jazz, Latin jazz, jazz rock, etc. To me, this makes for a very modern and exciting music. But jazz is niche and heard by very few. There is a strong need for more concerts so that people are exposed to this incredible art form.
Surya Praphulla Kumar