Bangalore-based UNK, The Radha Thomas Ensemble performed the opening act on Day 2 of the third edition of the International Jazz Festival.
The breezy March evening at the Nehru Park created just the right atmosphere for UNK’s melodious Indian classical-meets-western jazz music. Radha Thomas (vocals), along with Aman Mahajan (piano), Matt Littlewood (saxophone), Mishko M’ba (bass), Ramjee Chandran (guitar) and Suresh Bascara (drums) played out interesting stuff from their recent album I Only Have Eyes For You. Radha’s Dhrupad trained voice intertwined with the piano and guitar arrangements in an ‘imperfect unison’. Numbers like Menina Moca, Refuge and Bluesette lent for good listening with unexpected timing intervals and well-rehearsed transitions from soothing to swing. Drum solo by Suresh and Ramjee’s guitar solo were taken extremely well by the audience.
The unexpected happened when the band Ararat took over the stage. The Israeli band fronted by the multi-talented Ofer Peled (soprano sax) created some exotic music with almost nonpalpable element of jazz using middle eastern percussion instruments such as tombak, Spanish cajon drum as well as didgeridoo and Turkish flutes. The Ararat music was a mix of flavours from Balkan, African and Middle eastern music culture. The band's songs talked about spreading love, suffering in the world and the enduring human strength which were mostly sung in Yemeni or Moroccan. They dedicated a song to the Indian women translated ‘Kisses in the Sea.’ Ofer about his composition said: "My compositions are more about communicating easily without being too complicated, but having said that one should feel free to do what he pleases, which is the beauty of jazz music."
Next up was Imany from France. The band was anything but a jazz band as vocalist Imany (real name Nadia Mladjao) herself said that she would like to call her music “eclectic.” The vivacious girl with deep and melodious voice from Martigues, who is a rising sensation in France's musical circuit, mersmerized the audience with her singing.
Imany's soulful voice enhanced by high quality sound settings, which gave the decibels enough room to be playful like children on a tarpaulin, created an energy that was simply dreamlike. The band belted out original compositions like ‘I lost’, 'Where Have You Been', 'Slow Down', 'Grey Monday', 'Pray for Help', 'Please' and 'I’ve Got to Go' but an arrow through the heart was their version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. They also sang Janis Joplin’s Mercedez Benz.
As the auidence were left delirious by Imany's brilliant performance, the third band for the day, Russia’s Oleg Butman Jazz trio took over the stage.
However, just as the band was warming up with a promise of hardcore jazz music, unfortunately, the plugs had to be pulled and the party ended due to exceeding of time permitted by the authorities. Alas!
The International Jazz Festival is an initiative of the ICCR in partnership with Showcraft Productions, New Delhi.