The Duke goes Dutch? Duke Ellington, the American jazz legend, once led several of his country’s soft power cultural delegations to foreign lands. Back in 1963/64, he and his orchestra toured the ‘Near East’ and ‘Far East’ – ugh, such Eurocentric terms, can’t stand them – which included India!
Back in the US, the ‘Dook’ presented his new collection of sound impressions at a concert in New York City in 1966, that he called ‘The Far East Suites’.
Tonight, two jazz and Western classical-meets-jazz groups from the Netherlands will perform their arrangement of those suites at the IIC. Head for the Fountain Lawns at 6.30 pm. This is what you’ll hear. The Tony Overwater Trio (tenor sax, bass and drums) and the Calefax Reed Quintet (oboe, sax, clarinets and bassoon) performing musical suites written by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. They’ll also present new music of their own and from the Arabian and Asian countries they visited themselves, that they call ‘jukebox jazz’.
A composition by Delhi sitarist Shubendra Rao is one of the works they’ll play (Shubendra is a second-gen student of Pandit Ravi Shankar and plays/composes with his Dutch wife, Hindustani cello player Saskia de Haas).
Psst! In case you miss the Dutch tonight, they’ll also play at The Haze, Basant Lok Market, Vasant Vihar, at 9 pm on Sunday, March 8. But that will cost, while the IIC is free — you spoilt, spoilt Delhi types.
Triple psst! The Duke suites include ‘Bluebird of Delhi’, ‘Agra’ and ‘Isfahan’.
Delhiites planning a trip to fabulous Kochi (Cochin) in Kerala, the ‘Queen of the Arabian’ — as this important spice and oil port is called, take note! A new arts complex has just opened there I’m told, called the Jose Thomas Performing Arts Centre. They’re big into Indian classical arts, so connect if you’re looking to perform in a city where people actually like that sort of thing outside of New Delhi-3 types, like here in the Big Chapatti...or should that be the Big Bhatura?
The Fab Four
Now that I’ve told you the ‘I’m-so-dying-to-be-hip’ kind of news about firangi jazz-fazz, hear this. The Kaveri comes to the Yamuna (to what’s left of it) after Holi, between March 16 and 18.
That’s ten days away, but I’m telling you now so you, whoever ‘you’ are can organise your life between that Monday and Wednesday. And what peculiar goings-on! T.M. Krishna, the reigning king of Carnatic vocal to sing in the same time slot as ravishing Priyadarshini Govind dancing Bharata Natyam? And Carnatic diva Bombay Jayashree to sing while Leela Samson, boss of Kalakshetra (famous dance school in Chennai) does B’Nat?
Only a Dilli-da-puttar like the Seher (arts NGO) impresario Sanjeev Bhargava could have had the chutzpah to toss this particular mixed-fruit chaat. And those stuck-up Southies fell for it, because they think Delhiites are too wimpy to take real classical heat. Across the Narmada, India thinks we can only handle bhangra pop and caterwaulin#g Paki lady-ledas or chikni singers trilling icky-sweet ghazals. So why did the sponsors bother? It’s ‘chuchunder ke sar pe chameli ka tel’: ‘jasmine oil (wasted) on the (smelly) muskrat’s head’ as the Hindustani saying goes