More Jazz - Jazz Utsav '05, Day Two

Day Two was supposed to begin at 6, and so I arrived early at 5:45. They let us into the premises shortly after six, and then took nearly half an hour to let people into the stalls. The wait, the standing in line on the stairs, was monotonous and irritating. I don’t quite know what the problem was, but with four bands due to play, they were robbing us of performance time. The show began soon enough with the Sri Lankan band taking stage. Harneet, Deepan, Priya and a friend of Harneet’s sat again in the balcony, as did Aishwarya and her friends. I thought the sound might be better in the stalls, so sat my college friends and I sat in the third-last row of the stalls, next to the aisle so we could stretch our legs. Heh. As I found out later, and also on Day Three (more on that later), where you sit in Kamani Auditorium makes a lot of difference: the sound can seem heavier or lighter, distinct or garbled, muffled or sharp.

1. Sri Lankan Jazz Sextet

As Anshuman rightly put it, their music had a forced fusion feel to it; much like one at the Artists Unlimited performance at Venky’s a year or so ago, or even Orange Street’s performance at the Rocktoberfest Gig 3 (Athena). They were, of course, better than AU and OS, though erratic at times. One was often left searching for the underlying rhythm and the drumming, in particular, seemed totally random and abrupt. If anything, the Sri Lankan percussionist seemed good because of the “exotic” percussions he played: the tooth percussion was neat, as was what he played for the first composition. They just didn’t gel together. Grant Chamberlain was neat on the Sax. It seems that they belonged to different Jazz groups in Sri Lanka, so one wonders how much they’d jammed together before beginning the tour.

2. The Core

The Core, playing fusion again, were just as good as Mynta had been the day before. The Norwegian group were the best of the entire three days in terms of their energy and the variety of sounds that blended into complete compositions. One could choose to focus on the sound of just one instrument or listen to the sounds blending beautifully together – an exhibition of both individual and collective brilliance; everything was in perfect co-ordination. The flute (Kanchman Singh), tabla (Prasenjit Mitra) and sitar (Fateh Ali) solos were particularly enjoyable. I'd really never heard a double bass (Steinar Raknes) solo before, so WOW! Loved the interplay between the saxophone, sitar, and especially the drums and tabla. Too bad they weren't selling CD's.

3. Solid

After the completeness of The Core’s compositions, Solid, also from Norway seemed to lack finesse. If one was to believe the booklet distributed during the Utsav, Solid were supposed to play ‘hard, swinging jazz’, which was hardly the case. I’m not particularly fond of the electronic sound of the Hammond organ. Their sound was very different from the rest, and almost abrupt in their transitions. My college friends didn’t quite fancy their music, so they left. I went up to the balcony and sat with Harneet & Co.

The music was disparate, to say the least, though once one got comfortable with the oddity of their compositions, it was fun. The drum and guitar solos were fantastic. In particular, the guitar solos were subtle, which was a pleasant change. Nothing ‘exciting’ about their music, though. Booklets are particularly adept at lying.

The sound was distinctly muffled in the balcony, and seemed a lot heavier than it did in the stalls. Quite frankly, Kamani Auditorium’s acoustics sucked.

4. The Cow Beauty Quartet - Denmark

I thought they were the most complete band yesterday, though the Core would be a close second. More like classical (or conventional) Jazz- the maturity of their compositions stood out. Particularly liked the sparring between the guitar and the trombone. The guitaring made it worth the wait: A few minutes into their first composition, and my friend says- we have our guitarist of the day.Totally agree with that. Kim Menzer was great too, playing the conch, the trombone and the flute equally well.

They were gracious enough to play an extra composition, even though a few people had left. Lots of jokes on cows from Kim Menzer, so they had fun on stage, even though the jokes had become boring towards the end, bordering in irritating. Mikkel Nordsoe’s guitaring reminded me of John Myung’s at GIR – he played with consummate ease, his fingers barely touching the fret at times. Not like Mattias’ jerky and Hellborg’s violent plucking. This had comfort, confidence and finesse. Not that the Mattias and Hellborg lacked in any way, of course. Deepan and Priya had already left by the time TCBQ began, and Harneet had to leave after the first composition.

The funniest part of the entire show yesterday was the continuation of the carefully orchestrated garlanding- Solid were just about finishing when the master of ceremonies called the girls over to garland the group, while they were still playing. 'twas funny to see the guitarist trying to negotiate the chords with the garland on the guitar, getting in between his fingers while he tried to negotiate the strings. lol

One irritating aspect was the length of the breaks, which though announced as ‘very short intervals’ were inordinately lengthy, as were the introductions of the bands. Wasting time that could have been utilised for performances, and very much in the ‘Don’t bore us, get to the chorus’ zone.


On the whole, I thought the drumming was better on Day 2 than Day 1. Harneet spoke to Sam Lal of RSJ, and learnt that Sunday was sold out, and they were overwhelmed by the response to the Jazz Yatra this year. They’ve plans for a larger auditorium next year. As we were to find out on Sunday, they needed it then too.

Anshuman’s review of Day Two is here, though I don’t agree that the Cow Beauty Quartet’s music was a mix of jazz and progressive rock. Progressive rock-ish music was reserved for Day 3. :-)





Mynta

AND Some of Mynta's music is available at download.com, here. Harneet, you may thank me now. :P



Ps:

1. Bootlegs of The Core's past performances are available here.
2. I've also reviewed days one and three of the Jazz Utsav

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7 Comments:
Anonymous Anshuman said...

I got the album... I got the album :-)

November 21, 2005 10:09 am  
Blogger harneet said...

yes, i'd like to. thanks!

anshuman, my friend. can we talk?

*grins*

November 21, 2005 3:10 pm  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Anshuman - I heard you ran out and bought it immediately, while the rest of us waited for the show to end. Great going. Talk to Harneet. :P

I didn't like the three compositions that I downloaded; live music is a totally different experience.

Nothing yet on 'The Core', Solid and Mikkel Nordsoe. Amit Saigal of RSJ had been given some Freak Guitar albums by Mattias Eklundh and an guitar album by Mikkel Nordsoe.

November 22, 2005 12:05 am  
Blogger Jabberwock said...

Nice. I'm feeling annoyed over not being able to make it on any day - though it really couldn't be helped.

(BTW, you look like a serial killer from a B-movie in that profile pic. Is that deliberate?)

November 22, 2005 7:55 am  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

LOL. No that's not deliberate.

The last day was fun, particularly because I met a an acquantance who doesn't know me well enough to tell me to shut up when I'm pass comments. Will post about day 3 when I'm in the mood. Which will probably be tomorrow.

Just finished reading The Simoqin Prophesies. Enjoyed every minute. First time I've read 250 pages at a stretch in over a year.

(What? Yes, I notice these things.)

November 22, 2005 11:00 am  
Blogger Jabberwock said...

No, I understand - those are things I'm always noticing and recording myself.
Watch out for Manticore's Secret - it's out next month.

November 22, 2005 7:24 pm  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

This is normal, then? Oh good. :)

From what I'd heard at Sarai, The Manticore's Secret should be fun. And funnier.

November 23, 2005 1:10 am  

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