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Delhi weekend: The Delhi International Jazz fest is here

Seventh Delhi international jazz festival has an interesting line-up of Indian and international jazz bands.

art-and-culture Updated: Sep 23, 2017 13:07 IST
Zehra Kazmi
Zehra Kazmi
Hindustan Times
Canadian saxophonist P.J. Perry at an earlier edition of the Delhi jazz festival.
Canadian saxophonist P.J. Perry at an earlier edition of the Delhi jazz festival.(ICCR)

For the last six years, as Delhi’s harsh summer gives way to autumn, strains of jazz music can be heard wafting through the greens of Nehru Park. This year, the 7th edition of the International Jazz Festival starts from September 23.

What the jazz festival, organised by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), has added to the Capital’s events calendar is unique: a chance to hear foreign and Indians band perform in an open-air, laidback setting.

The atmosphere is almost like a gala picnic where everyone is invited. Entry is free. Families and groups of young people come with blankets to spread on the grass, and at times, get up to sway to the music. Even the occasional downpour adds to the ambience, rather than sending people scurrying away.

Jazz is an interesting choice for a festival sponsored by a government body, since the genre is neither massy like hip hop nor traditionally classical. But jazz is perfect for the spirit of cultural exchange, says Riva Ganguly Das, the director general of ICCR. “It is an easier genre for Indians to relate to and the foreign bands also get to meet India’s excellent artists,” says Das.

The festival has become a highlight for Indian jazz artists as well. Radha Thomas of Unk: The Radha Thomas Ensemble, one of the Indian bands playing at this year’s festival, says, “For the government to take an interest in jazz, I can’t ask for more. It’s a challenging genre of music.”

This year, the three-day festival brings together an impressive array of jazz musicians from India with foreign bands from South Korea, France, Israel, Mexico, Spain, Taiwan and South Africa.

“While the festival does not have a jamming session between different bands, it’s nice to hear other bands play live. But the best part is that it also gives foreign bands a chance to hear the highly professional, talented pool of jazz musicians from India,” says Thomas.

While Delhi will continue to enjoy its jazz, this year, ICCR is taking the performing artists to hold events in Varanasi and Aizwal as well.

In its six years, the festival’s popularity can be gauged by two things. Every year, footfalls at the festival increase as more and more people find their way to Nehru Park to experience jazz-on-the-greens. The other thing the jazz festival has managed is to successfully become a public event for everyone, not limited to Delhi’s small band of jazz enthusiasts.

The response has encouraged ICCR, which already hosts a successful Ramayana festival as well as several music and dance festivals, to prepare for one dedicated to a celebration of Latin America. “Artists from as far away as Easter Island in Chile in participating. The festival will be a wonderful opportunity to show Latin American culture beyond salsa,” says Das.

WHAT: 7th Delhi Jazz International Festival

WHEN: 23 – 25 September, 6.30pm

WHERE: Nehru Park, Chanakyapuri


NEAREST METRO: Lok Kalyan Marg


First Published: Sep 22, 2017 20:59 IST

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