Sandeep Chowta brings down Scott Henderson | music | Hindustan Times
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Sandeep Chowta brings down Scott Henderson

The renowned blues and fusion guitarist will perform live in concert with bassist John Humphrey and drummer Alan Hertz.

music Updated: Mar 14, 2010 14:01 IST
Nikhil Taneja

How did The Sandeep Chowta Project come about?
I’ve been passionate about jazz from the time I was a 12-year-old kid. But when I came into the industry, I got sucked into Bollywood I was doing well with scores like Dum and Company but I didn’t want to be a part of the item song space. The turning point of life came when my house in Chennai was destroyed by the Tsunami. I happened to survive and realised how I had done nothing I really wanted to do in my life. So, I got in touch with my heroes in jazz music in USA, for collaborations, and that’s how it started.

How did you get into event management?
I was never into the events business, but it was the musicians who asked me to organise a gig for them in India. (Smiles) I too thought it would be incredible watching these musicians live on stage, with my friends, since we’ve all grown up on their music. (Laughs) There was a childlike enthusiasm in me, and I went about it for the kick of it. It was never about the money, in fact I’ve lost my pants doing this. Each time I organise such a concert, I need to sign another movie.

Did the musicians immediately agree on the collaborations?
They were interested because a Bollywood composer was trying to get in touch with them, but after our first meeting, they were really zapped to see how much I knew about these guys! And now, life has come full circle – everyone in the jazz circuit in USA knows me, and are keen on playing in India. I’m living my dream!

Are you involving these guys in Bollywood?
I’m trying to generate their interest in Bollywood. They insisted on hearing my Bollywood songs and have liked them too. In fact, when Bunny Brunel came here, he even played Babuji (Dum) in concert, exactly the way it is. He didn’t even jazz it up, he loved the melody so much. (Smiles) These guys find colour in everything here, which even we are not able to see. But I would love to see their collaborations with our incredible classical musicians, who have been typecast as pure classical, before I get them involved with Bollywood.

This is the sixth jazz concert you have organised, in three years. Has the response increased?
Yes. I’m looking to build a community. Jazz is not only for musicians, it’s for music listeners too. And these guys understand that. We all try to give the audience their money’s worth. The only thing I find irritating is the fact that everyone wants to get closer to these musicians. They think that having chatted with them or having played with them once, they can reach their level or attain that status. You know, even I haven’t jammed with them even once on my album. Because even if I do so, it wouldn’t make me their equal.

So, how long have you been listening to Scott Henderson’s music?
(Smiles) Since forever! Four musicians have truly influenced my music, and Scott is one of them. Jazz is all about improvisation and he is a God when it comes to that. Ever since he’s here, he’s been so embarrassed because I keep playing his music to him, show him his own instructional videos that I learnt from!

Is he playing on your album, Matters of the Heart, too?
(Excitedly) Yes! There are 45 jazz musicians on the album, many of whom are Grammy-nominated, and they have all worked their a** off on it. And all them have loved it. The album has its own sound, that cannot be categorised into lounge, jazz or fusion. There’s no gimmick in the album, I haven’t ‘Indianised’ to sell it in the West.

The album’s been seven years in the making. Will the next one come after a decade?
(Laughs) You know, I finished this album last June, and felt, both wonderful and awful. The whole process was so much fun that I just couldn’t believe it was over. It’s something I want to be remembered by, so I don’t want to hurry with its release. I’m looking for the right sponsors, because I want the album to reach everyone.