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4th New Delhi International Jazz Fest: An outburst of musical creativity

music Updated: Feb 23, 2015 18:39 IST
Jonathan Vikram Pradhan
Jonathan Vikram Pradhan
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Despite a spell of showers on the first day, the faithful gathered in huge numbers for the fourth edition of the New Delhi International Jazz festival from March 28-30.

The theme this year was 'blue', symbolising the universal spirit of youth.

Appropriately, the organisers had decorated the venue with blue lights that seemed to drip from trees and the stage had honeycomb props as the background. The setting was perfect for music lovers, who soaked in world-class jazz music over the weekend amid the lush green surroundings.

All in all, the three-day fest was an outburst of musical creativity.

The Ari Roland quartet, an accomplished jazz band from New York, held sway on Day 1.

They have sourced their jazz roots from the 30s and 50s. Nattily dressed in black suits, the quartet belted out their compositions and interacted with the crowd with improvised Bollywood numbers, which they picked in just four days.

What's more, they also shared their love for Lata Mangeskar's "truly magical" voice. "Indian music and jazz has the same goals," said Ari, the band leader and double bass player.

The Ari Roland quartet at the New Delhi International Jazz Festival.(Photo by Jonathan V. Pradhan)

The second band was the Smárton Trio from Hungary. Márton Süto (band's leader and guitarist) created an eclectic sound using the tanpura for drone accompaniment and played gypsy as well as New Orleansy blues melodies on his acoustic guitar, which had been fed with distortion boost with equal ease and mastery. Their version of the Animal's House of the Rising Sun was a treat. The band has published two albums - 'I don't know yet' in 2006 and 'Smárton Trio + 1' in 2008.

Third up was the Black Slade from India. It was a reunion of long-time buddies -- guitar virtuoso Edwin Fernandes and bassist Antony E Braganza along with drumer Aswin and keyboard player Xavier Pires -- who started off with good music with George Benson's groovy number Breezin. They also played a few compositions of their own. Edwin's flawless legatos (bunch of notes played in one go) and Antony's passionate bass playing instantly struck a chord with the Delhi audience. However, they had to wrap early as it started raining in the middle of their performance.

The Smárton Trio from Hungary at the New Delhi International Jazz Festival.(Photo by Jonathan V. Pradhan)

The second day's performance was by the Tres Butacas from Colombia, which was led by Camila. The band churned out melodies from folk to bolero (genre of slow-tempo Latin music); Brazilian music to traditional Jazz.

Next up was Obara Quartet from Poland. Led by alto saxophonist Maciej Obara, the band played Obara's compositions which were simply magical.

Last but not the least was Mina Agossi Trio from France. Amidst the din, Agossi's rich toned voice ruled supreme as she sang her compositions and some gospel tunes.

The third and final day's performance began with the PJ Perry Trio from Canada. Perry, has staged shows with Dizzy Gillespie and the likes, so you can imagine the standard. Perry played Charlie Parker's Now's The Time, Body and Soul, and Quasimodo from his 1955 alto sax. Also, he is just 73!

The typical east meets west fantasy was brought into life by the Modernhan from South Korea. Using their traditional instruments - Ajaeng (stringed instrument) and flute, the band wove a tapestry of shrill melodies blended with immaculate piano, drums and traditional vocals. Indian musicians could take a leaf out of their performance in using traditional instruments to create contemporary sounds.

Edwin Fernandes and Antony E Braganza of the Black Slade at the New Delhi International Jazz Festival. (Photo by Jonathan V. Pradhan)

The third act was by the flambouyant Ximo Tebar, who has been credited for creating the Son Mediterraneo (fusion of jazz and flamenco-flavored Mediterranean style of music). Ximo, a professor of jazz, displayed his guitar skills and the audience couldn't have asked for anything better; he's quite a master at it. Ximo Tebar also collaborated with India's well known jazz vocalist Joe Alvarez from Trident Jazz Trio and performed Charles Rays' Georgia on My Mind.

All in all, the fest was mind-blowing. Good music, pleasant weather, trippy lights made for an absolutely worthwhile weekend.

The jazz festival is part of Indian Council for Cultural Relations' (ICCR) initiative to foster global cultural pluralism by facilitating cultural exchange between national and international artists participating in the festival.

The event's public relations was managed by Delhi's H'n'V Communications and coordinated by Big Show Entertainers.