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Blow your trumpet

After playing with Talvin Singh last week, French jazz-man Erik Truffaz returns to the city with Ethiopian singer-violinist Mounir Trudi to play some Arabic rhythms and sufi jazz.

music Updated: Jan 07, 2011 16:54 IST
Sharin Bhatti

Last month, jazz trumpeter Erik Truffaz enthralled audiences in India when he played with tabla man Talvin Singh. More recently, he put melody to Afro-French rapper Sly Johnson. This week, Truffaz flew down with Ethiopian singer-violinist Mounir Trudi to play some Arabic rhythms and sufi jazz.



Playing with melody


If constant reinvention is an idiom to play by, Truffaz is an effective proponent. “I like to play with melody and harmony. Music all over the world is so rich that it’s only natural for me to be attracted to it in order to imbibe it in my senses,” says Truffaz. On his fourth visit to the country, Truffaz played a live set at Blue Frog where he directed Trudi’s soulful singing with his modal jazz elements. “I liked Trudi’s sound. Every time I make music, I like to give it elements of drama, like a novel with moments of tension and calm,” adds Truffaz. And as he describes, there were some surprising tones: almost breakbeat-like drum patterns, bass lines with the depth and edge of drum and bass, a delightful plaintive duo with an oud, heart-rending Arabic singing from Mounir Troudi on day one of their performance. “I couldn’t ask musicians to play like that if they weren’t totally into it themselves,” says Truffaz. “Of course, I was a bit afraid that the audience wouldn’t follow me, but they have. Mumbai’s listeners are really evolved that way. They understand notes and react intelligently.”



Indian influence


Truffaz first came to India in 2008 and learned Hindustani classical music from Hariprasad Chaurasia to record an album, Benaras in Kolkata. “He taught me how to play the ragas on flute and I extended them to the trumpet. That is something that always stayed with me,” Truffaz says, adding Chaurasia to his influences which also include Miles Davis and Led Zeppelin. Like true jazz, Truffaz’s repertoire expanded to works by Mozart and Verdi, and he performed as part of Orchestre de Suisse Romande. He also played in cover bands before establishing a group called Orange. The band concentrated on Truffaz's compositions. Among its members was Marc Erbetta, a drummer who continued to play with Truffaz as the trumpeter evolved. “Jazz is improvisation, and if you need to understand how to do it, you need to know classical music and I am always open to new music. That is why I like to keep extending my collaborations to all forms of artistes,” says Truffaz.