Orjazzmic, Indeed - Jazz Utsav '05, Day Three
Day 3 should have begun in a manner similar to Day 2 – wait outside for friends, hand over passes, thank Shivangi (RSJ) on the way in, stand in staircase and wait for doors to open, rush and sit once doors open. And, of course, the show was supposed to begin late, which is where things got messed up.
According to Amit Saigal from RSJ: ....and we had a GIR (Great Indian Rock Competition) kinda situation at Kamani last nite with people trying to break the kamani entrance gate down to get inside...and people jumping over the wall....considering that this is 30 plus guys and not 18 and 20 year olds...id say the gig rocked!
And I had an extra ticket because Shekhar couldn’t make it. Gave it away, eventually.
What was really tragic about the show was that they actually began the show almost on time. I entered to find the staircase empty. Thought: Ha Ha! Everybody’s late today. Wait. There should be a line here, for entering the stalls. Shit. It must have begun. RUNNNNNN. And we ran up the staircase.
Luka Roos and Lumahama had already begun playing, and the place was packed. And according to a volunteer who uses the rather unusual pseudonym ‘Malhotra’ on the RSJ forums: ^^ haha, i think rather unexpectedly all the VIPs showed up and there was no place to sit, some people were being requested to come and sit backstage to make way for the embassy people.
We stood next to the back wall; on the right side near the entrance for the second composition (we’d missed the first). The sound was terrible there. Went across to the other left side, and sat on the floor in the aisles, co-incidentally, next to Anirudh, my college band’s vocalist. Let’s talk about the music. Wait, if you want to read a shorter version, sans much masala, here’s Anshuman’s. Here’s another review, covering all three days in a single post, with some kicking in the end. Otherwise, read on:
1. Luka Roos and Lumahama:
Luka Roos (Clarinet and “big” Clarinet) is special. I remembered a Santana song, I forget which, in which Wyclef Jean (I think) says ‘Yo! Carlos, you’re making that guitar cry’. Luka Roos made that Clarinet cry. The sound of this band seemed clearer than any other, and was also very soft with low, subtle transitions. Their music seemed to emote: cries of despair, in pain, emanating from the clarinet. The composition, the third they performed that evening ended with a touch of sadness, as if a hero has jumped off a building at the end of a movie, a crowd has gathered around him and the camera is slowly panning out. I don’t remember much else from this band, other than Luka Roos’ performance. He even removed the mouthpiece the clarinet and played it, making sounds similar to the whistle duck hunters use. Mario Hanni on the Drums was again, quite brilliant, and having a lot of fun. Anirudh mentioned that the piano tends to make the composition sound much ‘happier’. I agree, to some extent, but it can also be used for a sad ending, punctuated with pauses. Depends on how you use it, actually.
They returned for an encore, called Bells, which was very Floydish: abrupt, noisy sounds from the Piano (Maurus Thurneysen), Double Bass (Hannes Fankhauser) and Drums (Mario Hanni) to begin with. There was a bit of sparring (somebody tell me the correct English word for jugalbandi) between the Drums and the Piano, before they moved to a conventional and upbeat Jazz sound. It ended again on a somber note.
2. The Charlie Mariano Band
I’ve never quite enjoyed Drumming this much before, and Wolfgang Haffner was the best of the lot. Ratan Sehgal, who was the master of ceremonies, introduced the Charlie Mariano as one of the legendary musicians from the ‘bepop’ era, obviously reading out from the booklet, and still not pronouncing ‘bebop’ correctly. Yeah, I notice these things.
Dieter Ilg, on the double bass, played the absolutely-bestest double bass solos, with the sound clearer than any other composition so far. You might have noticed that I keep mentioning the clarity of the sound in this post. No, the sound system wasn’t better. Will tell later. The double bass solos in the first and third (Bye Bye Baby) compositions were incredible, and my jaw dropped on more than one occasion. Bye Bye baby ended with a solo from Wolfgang Haffner. He took out two plastic toy hammers and played them on his body as we walked up to the front of the stage to sit on Charlie’s monitor. He played the toy hammers on his kneecaps, accompanied by a clapping audience, and occasionally tapped his head with a hammer, much to the audiences’ amusement. Finally, he threw the hammers back behind his head, over Charlie, and went and sat down on the drums to finish off his drum solo. Great stuff.
I didn’t find Charlie Mariano’s sax-playing too powerful, but I guess at 82 (Ratan Sehegal had said 87 and Charlie corrected him I between songs), one shouldn’t expect much. It was versatile, but not too powerful. The final composition was called
3. Zila Khan and Louiz Banks
This was supposed to be the performance of the evening, the entire fest in fact, and much hyped. Every seat in the stalls was taken; the aisles were packed as well. About sitting in the aisles – people didn’t seem to want to do the sensible thing and sit in a single file. Anirudh’s dad, 50+ I’m sure, sat with us in the aisles until someone offered him his seat at the end of The Charlie Mariano band’s performance. Louiz Banks (Keyboards), in a red jacket took stage with his son, Gino (Drums), and Sheldon D’Silva (Bass). I thought the keyboards were much too loud and completely drowned out the bass, so it was disappointing. Sheldon could have just stood there and done nothing, and it wouldn’t have made any difference. Their first composition was without Zila Khan and Ghulam Ali on the Sarangi, and not particularly good. After Ghulam Ali sat down, Zila was led on to stage.
Zila was impish, wearing a jazzy shimmering golden something (we don’t do fashion here) over a black something, and seemed to be enjoying herself. Soli “bhai” and Zila kept complimenting each other repeatedly, before she thanked everyone several times and translated the song for the audience. Her voice was stirring, to say the least, and the best we’d heard over the last few days. Yet, there was something smug and irritating about her. She kept talking during the performance, and pointing out to the audience whenever anyone else was performing. I must have heard “Louiz Bhai” being said at least thrice during the second composition, which was Zila’s first. Somebody should have told her that the whole point of people attending the Jazz Utsav was to hear music being performed, and not hear Zila comment on Ghulam Ali’s performance, or Gino’s drumming, or Louiz on the keyboards. Zila also repeatedly kept nodding at or saying something to people in the front row, where her family sat.
A few people left in the middle of that composition, and a lot more exited after it finished. Zila said something like “I’d like to thank Louiz Bhai for letting me jam with the band.” She then paused. Then: “I’ve never jammed with them. I’ve gelled.” Or something like that. More compliments for Soli Bhai. I felt like telling her to shut up and sing. It was very irritating. Anirush said something like if I was the sarangi player, I’d get up and slap Zila Khan because she keeps talking while I’m playing.
Frankly, Zila Khan was all hype and though she had the ability to sing well, she lacked respect for the audience. This wasn’t her drawing room, and she wasn’t singing for her family.
Anirudh and I went and sat in seats, for a few rows had emptied. Strangely enough, the sound wasn’t as clear there: it was muffled and heavier, and the sound in the aisles was much sharper. We promptly went back and sat down on the floor in the aisle.
Zila Khan kept singing away from the mic, because of which the sound wasn’t always clear. She probably needed to be surrounded by mics, and at different heights because she kept bobbing up and down. Louiz Banks seemed to be sulking, really.
The only thing I liked about their performance was Gino Banks’ drumming. Great stuff.
2. Racism at the Jazz Utsav? Read the second last paragraph of this post.
On the whole, the Jazz Utsav 2005 was a real treat. Music played live is an entire different experience, particularly Jazz. I’ve heard Mynta’s compositions on MP3, and didn’t like them as much. I’m back to listening to System of a Down. Mikkel Nordsoe and Mattiah Eklundh’s guitarwork was special. Luka Roos was brilliant with the clarinet. Hard to choose a drummer, but I think Wolfgang Haffer was special. The Core’s compositions were great fun. Hmm…after three days of Jazz, it’s almost a case of one bands’ music being overwritten by the next.
Here’s what’s in store for next year:
- According to Sam Lall (RSJ): A larger venue, probably Siri Fort.
- According to Amit Saigal (RSJ): Nana Vasconcelos is in touch and wants to play....dream is to get Chic Correa, Trilok Gurtu and the likes for the next fest...
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