Jazz Utsav: Anything but ordinary

  • Jonathan Vikram Pradhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 04, 2014 20:34 IST

The performers at

Jazz Utsav Festival 2014

experimented, charmed the audience to unknown places on Day 2 and Day 3 of the musical journey that unfolded at the Siri Fort Auditorium.

Delhi’s jazz lovers found themselves drawn to the ideas of the performers, each unique, but bound by the spirit of jazz.

Ruth Wilhelmine of ‘Helge Lien and Ruth Wilhelmine Meyer’, for instance, "tries to fill the gap of lyrics with the sound of pure vocal".

Ruth's interpretation of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's work through her range-no bar vocals with piano accompaniment by pianist and composer Helge Lien created a unique combination of folkish-classical musical tapestry in an offbeat jazzy arrangement. It was mesmerising.


Ruth Wilhelmine Meyer and Helge Lien at Siri Auditorium. Photo- Jonathan Vikram Pradhan.

Blissful traditional jazz was performed by the Steve Davis Quartet with Steve Davis (trombonist), Nat Reeves (acoustic bass), Jason Tiemann (drums) and Anthony Wonsey (piano). They performed numbers by jazz trombonist JJ Johnson such as Pinnacles and Love Walked In and Davis' compositions such as Spirit Waltz and Daylight, reminiscent of the Swinging Sixties.

To listen to Davis, who has performed with Jazz greats such as Art Blakey, Jackie McLean and Chick Corea, along with Nat Reeves' solid acoustic bass thumping was a treat.

German guitarist Arne Jansen along with Andeas Edelman (bass) and Eric Schaefer (drums) performed from their album The Sleep of Reason - Ode to Goya (Spanish painter Francisco Goya).

Arne used melodic guitar tones to interpret the impression that Goya's Black Paintings, especially the 'Witches' Sabbath' and 'A Pilgrimage to San Isidro', had while he was on a trip to Madrid.

Arne was a rock music lover before foraying into jazz. His music has distinctive elements of the rock genre intertwined with jazz sounds with precision that displays his mastery over the instrument.

The last day's (Sunday’s) acts were as follows:

The Polish Jazz Outfit High Definition Quartet led by the intense Piotr Orzechowski (pianist and composer) was much more than a group of young musicians, all in their early twenties.

Experts at their respective instruments, other members of the group — Mateusz Silwa (tenor sax), Alan Wykpisz (double bass), and Patryk Dobosz (drums) — are winners of prestigious awards in jazz.

Their number Intro starts with solo drumming which in quick succession starts sounding like porcelain hail falling on a plastic roof and a strong gush of sax with piano triplets sweeping it off in 51 seconds.

This is what ace trumpeter Randy Becker, who performed with them had to say, “High Definition is one of the most incredible bands if not the most incredible group I have ever played with, and since I have been in the music business for almost 50 years, that is a really strong recommendation. I am sure they will go on to become world famous musicians both individually and as a group.”

My impression was they were making their own way through a jazz rain forest, enjoying themselves while doing so and not hurting anyone in the process. I hope they reach the destination they are headed for… or, rather, they keep moving on.

An hour of pure jazz music was served up by the David Hazeltime Trio. Master pianist David Hazeltine performed a few of his arrangements as well as a Frank Sinatra number. David's intricate notes played along the strong rhythm section, which was just sweet.

Last but not the least, The Goa Collective — Elvis Lobo (guitar), Shayne Ballantine (guitar), Arjun Sen (guitar) and Lew Hilt (bass) — made it an evening to remember. Their guitar melodies painted ‘musical pictures’. Their unique improvisations have seen them hold the fort musically for a long, long time in India.

Asked what keeps them inspired to organise such a festival in New Delhi, Astri Ghosh, coordinator for the event, said, “Simply for the love of Jazz.”

The Capital Jazz was celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Jazz Utsav this year.

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