For three successive evenings, horns blew, basses reverberated and gentle jazz brushes enthralled the audience at the Tata Theatre, National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA). The cultural hub of the city played host to some exceptional jazz artistes from around the globe at its first international jazz festival, JazzMatazz, that was held from October 14 to 16. And if you thought pure traditional jazz had no takers in the city, you only had to look at the full house to change your opinion.
The festival opened with the performance by Kolkata-based guitarist Carlton Kitto’s ensemble. Master of the up tempo be-bop style of playing, Kitto’s act was enjoyable from the first note. The performance featured beautiful improvisations on the guitar, interspersed with rapturous drum solos by Nondon Bagchi. The audience, comprising mostly people over the age of 40, tapped their feet and snapped fingers, as young vocalist Ishita Chakravarty performed standards like Goody Goody… and Sweet Georgia Brown…
Trumpet virtuoso Jon Faddis amazed everyone with a tribute to his mentor, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, with compositions entitled Gillespiana. The second day began with Steve Turre taking centrestage, enthralling the discerning audience with his genius on the trombone and conch shells. In what turned out to be the most colourful performance at the fest, The Three Ladies of Blues impressed everyone with their flamboyant act, which was high on showmanship and musicality and featured the Gustav Csik Trio. The evening concluded with the Cedar Walton Trio. The exceptional musicians delighted everyone with the command on their instruments — piano, bass and drums.
The Beets Brothers, featuring Peter on the piano, Marius on the guitar and Alexander on the clarinet, started day three. Sri Lankan pianist Harsha Makalande and his group Khrome, which followed next, incorporated South Asian percussion instruments in their performance. “Jazz is a great genre because it allows other musical forms to seep into it,” said Makalande in between the compositions. The fest concluded with an outstanding performance by Louise Hayes and the Cannonball Legacy.