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Blowing his own horn

music Updated: Jun 06, 2012 16:39 IST
Nirmika Singh
Nirmika Singh
Hindustan Times
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With his maiden trip to India, jazz saxophonist Bill Evans wants to soak in every bit of Indian culture. The Grammy Award winning artiste even posted on his website that the visit will be an “eye-opening experience”.

For his debut concert in the city this Friday, the maestro will be teaming up with Indian drummer Ranjit Barot, bassist Etienne Mbappe, originally from Cameroon and French guitarist Marc Guillermont. “I first heard Ranjit a couple of years ago with John Mc Laughlin’s band and really enjoyed it. Etienne has toured with my band in 2011 and he’s my favourite bass player,” says Evans, who has performed and recorded with jazz legends Miles Davis (during his comeback years in the ’90s), Willie Nelson, Michael Franks and Herbie Hancock among others.

The American musician is credited for marrying two distinct musical forms — jazz and bluegrass, through his unique playing style. His signature compositions combine the improvisations on the sax using folk instruments such as banjo, fiddle, mandolin and steel guitar.

“To only play one kind of music all the time is very one dimensional to me. If a painter only painted the same picture, or a musician only played the same song time after time, it would be quite boring.”

So what can audiences expect at his gig?
“People will hear a contrast in musical styles as well as dynamics.” Barot says, “All four of us come from different countries with varied musical backgrounds. The performance will be a confluence of our cultures.” He adds that this collaboration is here to stay.

“The energy of the group is very positive. This is the start of something new and fresh, I can feel it,” adds Evans. Unacquainted with Indian music, Evans plans to familiarise himself with the form. “I have always listened to jazz, rock, classical, but not too much of Indian. It is something I want to learn more about and listen to.”