If you are a jazz follower, names like pianist Helen Sung, bebop guitarist Russell Malone and vocalist Diane Witherspoon are sure to catch your attention. In a three-day jazz festival that starts tomorrow in the city, you can witness all of them performing together. The festival, Jus’Jazz, promises to celebrate the music form with six popular jazz artistes in all.
Organised by a Mumbai based community called Jazz Addicts, the festival will commence with Russell Malone. The New York-based guitarist is known to have played with the likes of American singer-conductor Harry Connick Jr and the Canadian jazz pianist Diana Krall. He and his band will be accompanied by popular Russian saxophonist Igor Butman and his sextet. The second day of the festival will witness a performance by a band from New Orleans, along with Sylvia Cuenca, a young drummer from New York who garnered popularity recently after being part of pioneer jazz artiste Clark Terry’s quintet.
Jus’Jazz will conclude with a performance by popular American pianist Helen Sung, a graduate of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance. Diane Witherspoon, a jazz and blues vocalist, will follow up the act with her trio. But a festival of this scale hasn’t come together without its hassles. Sunil Sampat, jazz columnist and co-organiser of Jus’Jazz, says, “After the recent superstorm in the US, things looked difficult, as five of our performers are American. But we’re glad it’s finally happening.”
Sung, who has previously played in Mumbai in 2007, says, “This is my third visit to India and I love performing here. The biggest achievement during my first visit was to meet Mother Teresa.” Sung will be accompanied by popular jazz drummer Lewis Nash. “I am really looking forward to the festival. I’ll present my compositions that will be a fusion of the classical piano and jazz,” Sung adds.