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Horn ok please

music Updated: Jun 30, 2012 14:48 IST
Nirmika Singh
Nirmika Singh
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

In the past few weeks, the city hosted two international artistes, known to be the masters of their respective instruments — Dutch trumpeter Eric Vloeimans and American saxophonist Bill Evans. As Vloeimans performed to a mesmerised audience at Blue Frog earlier this month, city-based musicians Rhys Dsouza and Ryan Sadri stood close to the stage, soaking in the varied hues of Vloeimans’s unique brand of jazz.

The young guns
Rhys and Ryan, both of whom play the saxophone, are a part of a tiny yet tight community of woodwind and brass instrumentalists in the city. “I touched the sax when I was 19 or 20. My mum tried learning the instrument and found it too tough so I suddenly found a sax lying at home,” says 28-year-old Ryan, who performs with popular city band Something Relevant. He admits he was lucky to have found a great teacher. “I took lessons from the late legendary Indian jazz musician Micky Correa, who was big band leader at the Taj Mahal in Mumbai in the ’40s-’60s. Micky was 90 when I first went to him to learn the sax and was a powerhouse of inspiration.”

Twenty-three-year old Rhys has a similar story to tell. “I took up the sax after being formally trained with the clarinet. At 16, I learnt from Jazzy Joe (veteran tenor/soprano saxophone, clarinet and flute player Joe Pereira) and he taught me how to hold the sax, read, when to take in air and all the technical stuff.”

Dearth of teachers
While Rhys and Ryan had the great fortune of learning from masters in the trade, things stand differently today. Hardly any of the remaining woodwind/brass exponents teach now, either due to old age or other commitments. Christopher Pereira, son of Jazzy Joe, says that while his 84-year-old father still has the spirit to teach, he cannot, due to his frail health: “Throughout his career, my dad was extremely busy with performances. But he still made time to teach interested students. But for the past three to four years, his health hasn’t permitted him to, though he still invites people for workshops sometimes.”

The high cost of the woodwind and brass instruments — upward of Rs 20,000 — is also a deterrent for learners. Fifty-five-year-old Blasco Monsorate, the only trombone player in the city, keeps busy with tours and recording assignments. “I get inquiries for tuitions but I can’t make time. But I’m open to guiding learners,” he says.

Happy to help
The young musicians, too are more than happy to support beginners. “I do teach a handful of young students and hope to form a horn section in the near future,” says Ryan. Adds Rhys, “Also, Youtube is also a good place to start educating yourself.” City musician Shirish Malhotra, 26, who plays the clarinet, flute and the rare baritone sax, says: “People think that the sax it’s a difficult instrument to blow, but it isn’t.” Adds Nigel Rajaratnam, a clarinet and sax player, who also performs with acoustic band Dischordian, “It all depends on how much you practice.”

Blow it right
To learn, contact:
* Ryan Sadri at ryan@somethingrelevant. org
* Rhys Dsouza at rhyson@ gmail.com
* Shirish Malhotra atshirishmalhotra@hotmail.com
* Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music, Chennai- www.sam.org.in

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Global wave: Michael Kiwanuka
British jazz and soul musician Michael Kiwanuka has the ability to put a listener at peace with the very first notes he sings. His compositions, mostly performed live, armed with an acoustic guitar, feature simple yet striking melodies coupled with honest, heartfelt lyrics. His work has been influenced by Bill Withers, Otis Redding and Bob Dylan.

Gig alerts
Michael Jackson tribute concert
What: Special night featuring various artistes
Where: Blue Frog, Lower Parel
When: July 3, 10 pm onwards
Entry fee: Rs 300
Contact: 6158 6158

Various city artistes will come together on a common stage to perform songs from Michael Jackson’s vast repertoire.
Check out his music on http://michaelkiwanuka. com/ and www.myspace. com/mikeksongs