The Deborah J Carter Quartet brings their signature tunes and Metropolitan sounds to the city
Everyone likes jazz, they just don’t know it yet,” says world-renowned jazz vocalist Deborah Carter, who is currently in Chennai to perform at the Taj Club House. “India’s always been on my wish-list of places to visit,” she reveals. This is her first time here and even before the performance, she is involved in a workshop (at the American embassy school in Delhi) to give youngsters a look into the elements of jazz, its history and how to keep it fresh.
Carter got into jazz almost by accident. “It found me. All the cool kids in high school whom I wanted to hang out with used to listen to it. So I had to pretend I liked it, too. And then I got hooked,” says Carter, who was born in America, raised in Hawaii and Japan, and lives in Netherlands. Having spent time in Spain when there was a lot of Latin American immigration, she says, “I learned to do the music I wanted, with a lot of Salsa and Tango and Brazilian influence.”
Finding her groove
Carter describes her style as “Metropolitan”. “All the big capital cities have so much variety to them, in everything from their music to the food. I want my work to reflect an integrity between all the different kinds of jazz—traditional, R&B, everything.” She modernises the songs of such jazz-greats as Duke Ellington, adds lyrics to instrumental pieces and so on. The pieces she singles out are Ellington’s Purple gazelle and Harlem Nocturn. Other influential artistes she mentions are Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker.
With Carter is bassist (and husband) Mark Zandveld, drummer Gunnar Graafmans and pianist Leo Bouwmeester. “All the guys are great,” she says. “They’re talented and give me a lot of variety, which I love.” She performed in China earlier this year and observes, “People in China are really curious, it was very interesting. But there’s a lot of warmth and openness in India. I do hope to come back sometime.”
Before the boom
She holds Indian music, especially the work of Ravi Shankar in high regard. “I think Indian music is really influential. A lot of western artistes I know who have studied it say it has had an impact on their work.” She adds that the jazz scene in India is “underestimated” but she is confident that “it’s going to be big soon.” She says; “There are a lot of accomplished musicians here setting high standards and making new sounds and turning heads.”
After finishing up with her Indian commitments, Carter has a tour in Holland and an album, Diggin’ the Duke, in December, which will showcase her take on songs by Duke Ellington.
At Taj Club House, November 1, from 8 pm. Rs.2,200. Details: 66313131