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Free jams only

delhi Updated: Jul 25, 2009 22:58 IST
Malvika Nanda
Malvika Nanda
Hindustan Times
Free jams only

Walk into Ajay Mahajan’s residence in Sarita Vihar on the last Saturday of a month, and you’d think you had walked into one of those merry parties where someone had just picked up a guitar and someone else percussion, and started off a jam session. You’d be wrong.

There’s nothing impromptu about the get-togethers at Jamboree Retreat, as it’s called.

These are people who have got together expressly to make music of all kinds — a 1920s war song, a Nancy Sinatra classic, Bollywood hits, Pink Floyd, even Gujarati folk songs, and occasionally some originals.

For the motley crowd — everyone from young professionals to mothers with their twenty-something boys and girls — the idea is to create and celebrate music

Entry is strictly by invitation, and people need to confirm their attendance and food preferences, along with what they’ll be getting along to drink. But someone always gets a dessert, and someone else gets finger food, Biryani or rajma chawal, and there’s quite a spread.

The sessions are diligently planned via email.

Jamboree started in 2007 as a gathering to listen to ghazal and Rock music. Today, it is a rolling crowd of over 50 music-lovers.

Over the years, the group has invested in amplifiers, guitars, a djembe, and cordless mikes, all lying around on the thin strip of a gig pad in Mahajan’s music room.

Founder-member Sanjo Sarkar, a documentary filmmaker, performs regularly. He’ll start with the guitar, moving to the djembe later in the evening, and hum a familiar tune as the listeners look on in anticipation.

There have been times when Sarkar has flown back to Delhi and driven straight to Jamboree.

Another favourite of the Jamboree audience is Soumitra Ranjan, a 30-something marketing professional turned full time musician.

Says Ranjan, who also performs at the Turquoise Cottage, Gurgaon on Sundays, “It’s a warm place, a rare audience where one gets to play diverse music. They are enthusiastic and encouraging, which gives musicians something to build on.”

But founding member Mahajan, a technology consultant by profession, now wants to make Jamborees more musicians centric. “We started out with the idea of creating some serious music and becoming a backbone for new and amateur musicians. But many of the last 18 jamborees have had more listeners than musicians, so the idea got diluted. We’ll be changing that ratio soon.”

The group plans to move to another location for some serious music-making.

Mahajan lets on, “We’ve just taken over a group called that will put us in touch with over 100 musicians. We’ll help them get a platform and an audience. In fact, we plan to take Jamboree to other cities.” He adds, “At the at-home sessions, we’ll have fixed slots for musicians.”

Sarkar and Mahajan also have a ‘long term vision’ to get Jamboree to work for social causes. But for now it’s enough to see a bunch of people losing their inhibitions and singing their hearts out.