Indian, Italian jazz musicians come together for fusion concerts | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Indian, Italian jazz musicians come together for fusion concerts

Feb 29, 2024 02:16 PM IST

The concerts are being organised by the Italian embassy and the Italian Cultural Centre, which have described them as the flagship event for 2024

Jazz musicians from India and Italy, including veteran percussionist Trilok Gurtu, pianist Rita Marcotulli and trumpeter Paolo Fresu, are coming together for a series of concerts in three cities that are aimed at strengthening people-to-people ties between the two countries.

The concerts are being organised by the Italian embassy and the Italian Cultural Centre. (HT photo)
The concerts are being organised by the Italian embassy and the Italian Cultural Centre. (HT photo)

While all three musicians have worked with each other, this is the first time that they will be performing live and the “India, Jazz Up!” concerts will feature them performing their own compositions with extended improvisation.

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The concerts are being organised by the Italian embassy and the Italian Cultural Centre, which have described them as the flagship event for 2024.

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Gurtu, a master drummer and world music pioneer, has long-standing ties with Italy, where he began his international career in 1972. In a career of five decades that has seen him recording with guitarists Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin and Gary Moore, Gurtu’s music has been a mix of Indian classical music, Western jazz, and African and Brazilian rhythms.

Fresu, best known as a jazz trumpeter, began with a marching band in his hometown in Sardinia and has recorded and performed with Gurtu, Omar Sosa and Carla Bley. He is no stranger to India as he first came to the country in 1984 to perform at the Jazz Yatra. Fresu, part of the European jazz nouvelle vague movement, often experiments with electronics and using the trumpet as a percussion instrument.

Marcotulli is a well-known Italian pianist and composer who is respected for her ability to improvise, which was on display at a masterclass conducted in New Delhi on February 27 by the three musicians for Indian music students. Her influences include Indian, Brazilian and African music.

During the masterclass in New Delhi on Tuesday, the three musicians took questions from students about their inspiration, playing techniques and making it in the music business.

Gurtu regaled the audience by talking about his days sleeping under a bridge in Florence and being helped by an Italian woman who, on finding out that he hadn’t eaten, kept him plied with pasta aglio, olio e peperoncino for several days.

Announcing the concerts, Italian ambassador Vincenzo de Luca said: “Italy and India, being heirs of ancient civilisations and young democracies, share the same need to preserve their immense cultural heritage and traditions while looking at innovation.”

The three concerts – at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi on February 29, NCPA in Mumbai on March 2 and Prestige Srihari Khoday Centre for Performing Arts in Bengaluru on March 3 – are a “live depiction of a brilliantly well-balanced collaboration between our musical worlds: the Mediterranean notes travel a long way, landing in India where they perfectly blend with folk beats”, de Luca said.

This union of sounds symbolises the Indo-Italian mutual engagement, where culture and creativity represent crucial dimensions of soft power, he said.

“It is quite an extraordinary occasion to see these three amazing music personalities to perform together in Delhi. Beyond the gift of seeing them on stage, they are the tangible example of what happens when different cultural identities do not generate walls but pathways to a shared vision of the beauty of multiple voices,” said Andrea Anastasio, director of the Italian Cultural Centre.

While the US has sent leading jazz musicians such as Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck and Louis Armstrong to India for performances aimed at building cultural bridges, this is the first time Italy is arranging such a trio performance that combines both traditional and modern elements originating in the Mediterranean area and India.

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