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Making global music

india Updated: Jan 30, 2007 17:54 IST
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It’s true that music transcends all barriers. And that’s why composing hasn’t really been a problem for the band Mynta.

Though its members are spread across countries they have been working together for years. The survival of the band depends largely on the coordination of the members, which includes big international names — founder member and electric bassist Christian Paulin (Sweden), tabla player Fazal Qureshi (India), flautist and soprano Dallas Smith (USA), acoustic guitarist Max Ahman (Germany), violinist and keyboardist Sebastian Santiago (Cuba) and percussionist Sebastian Printz (Sweden).

“Coordination keeps the band going. There is no ego among us while making music and we always appreciate each other’s ideas,” says Paulin. The band was in Kolkata last week for the first time to perform at a concert.

They play jazz dominated by violin and guitar and blend classical Indian music too. Though vocals form an integral part of the compositions, vocalist Shankar Mahadevan’s unavailability of late, has led the band to change its style. “We are trying to use more violin instead of vocals as we don’t plan to substitute Shankar. His absence is always felt but we don’t want to use another vocalist,” says Fazal Qureshi.

Though Mynta falls in the league of the A-grade world music bands Paulin did not have any such plans when he started it 30 years ago. It began as an small American jazz group but after Qureshi joined in 1984, Mynta slowly started changing its style.

Incidentally, Paulin and Dallas, too, are trained in Indian classical music, which helps them understand and interpret the Indian ragas. “I am still a student at the Ali Akbar Khan College in California and this helps me understand Fazal’s compositions,” says Dallas.

With five albums in the last 10 years Mynta’s music has been popular in East and West. “Working on the compositions was a difficult task for us when we started because of the geographical boundaries but the last decade has seen us more active because of the Internet,” says Paulin.

Mynta’s style of working is much like the band, Remembering Shakti.

“I have seen my brother Zakir Hussain working with John McLaughlin, rehearsing three days before the concert and we too follow the same method,” says Qureshi.

The band is working on its next album and is trying to rope in Mahadevan for the album. “We do around 25 concerts in Europe during spring but now the East will be our focus because people in India are true connoisseurs of Indo-jazz fusion,” says Dallas.

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