On International Jazz Day, get ready to meet Gen-next Jazz musicians who will add seaboards and rap to the genre at an event curated by Louiz Banks
This Saturday, if you are at blueFROG for the International Jazz Day celebrations, don’t be surprised to spot a 15-year-old deftly striking chords with the new-age seaboard instrument or a 21-year-old rapping to Jazz rhythms.
The tribute has been curated by Jazz godfather Louiz Banks, or Uncle Louiz, as he is fondly christened by youngsters he takes under his wings. The line-up features 16 new Jazz musicians, along with five young singers, who will perform with established names like Gary Lawyer, Dhruv Ghanekar, Sheldon D’Silva, Joe Alvares, Sangeet Haldipur, Banks and his son, Gino.
“I want to lay to rest the misconception that Jazz is only for 40-plus listeners. The new Jazz that we will feature is for everybody, especially the youth. It symbolises the spirit of freedom and can interact, blend and merge with all genres and cultures. Today’s young musicians are a proof of that,” says the versatile Banks, who’s curated the gig for four years now. Ruchika Tiku, programming head at the venue, observes, “From the very first celebration, International Jazz Day has been a success. We see more and more younger audiences streaming in and loving it.”
On: April 30, 7.30 pm to 1.30 am
At: blueFROG, Lower Parel.
Meet the artistes
On the CV: Guitarist
Born to prominent bass guitarist Sujoy Dey (with over 10,000 music recordings to his credit) and singer Romia Dey, Esani strummed her first guitar at the age of three. “My dad gifted it to me and it was bigger than my size. He is my guru and has taught me Carnatic Classical music, Jazz and Contemporary Rock too. Jazz is my favourite genre and I love listening to Eric Clapton, BB King, Chick Corea and Mandolin player U Srinivas,” says Dey, who performed her first concert when she was seven with her sister, Mohini Dey (19).
With father Sujoy Dey (top) and Gino Banks at a jam session. pic courtesy/instagram.com/ louizbanksofficial
Over the years, she has performed with AR Rahman, Kailash Kher, Sunidhi Chauhan and Ranjit Barot among others. A Class 12 Commerce student, the city-based guitarist will participate in the International Jazz Day celebrations for the fourth time. “Louiz uncle always invites me to play. Last year, I had performed with Gino Banks and Ranjit Barot. This time, I will perform with my dad and Gino. We are called Guitar Power Trio, and will play two compositions, Mark King’s Mr Pink and Greg Howe’s Jump Start,” says Dey, who formed a band called Generation with Banks and her sister, three years ago. “We play Rock, Jazz Rock, Heavy Metal, Indian Classical and Shakti tracks too,” she says. The band will release an eponymous debut album by the year end, which also features the veteran Grammy Award-winning drummer, Narada Michael Walden, in one of the tracks.
On the CV: Keyboardist, singer-songwriter, music producer
While millennials mostly use mobile phones for texting, a five-year-old Iyengar would use his father’s phone keypad to emulate the song tunes that he’d listen to. “Watching me do that, my parents gifted me a toy keyboard. I was hooked onto it and later, began practising on a real keyboard with help of YouTube videos,” says the self-taught Gurgaon-based 10th grader, who has also learnt to play the seaboard, a multi-track instrument that resembles a keyboard but comes with silicon rubber keys. “It’s revolutionary as it also produces the sounds of other instruments like a guitar or a saxophone. It’s the first time that the instrument will be played with Jazz,” says Iyengar, a featured artiste with Roli (manufacturer of the instrument) and CME Pro. He will share stage with the Banks’ duo and D’Silva for two songs along with performing the Jazz standard, Summertime by George Gershwin. “This is the second time that I am part of the Jazz Day celebrations. Performing with Louiz sir is amazing. He is my mentor,” he informs.
Iyengar first caught his eye while playing at a music school inauguration in Mumbai in 2011 and later, Banks offered to teach him Jazz. “Earlier, I would only play Progressive and Psychedelic Rock. But he taught me different styles along with the scales, chords and standards. I have learnt everything I know about Jazz and Blues from him,” says the musician, who also plays the guitar, bass, drums and sings too. He is part of two bands — Split-Screen Theater, an online tribute band dedicated to the Progressive Metal band, Dream Theater and Transference, a collective of global musicians, who are planning a world tour with a South African leg coming up first this July. “An American event management company has organised the tour. We jam over Skype and play Psychedelic and Progressive Rock. I am the youngest in the group, others being in their 30s,” he shares.
On the CV: Rapper, music producer
Deka at a docu shoot in Arunachal Pradesh
From the songs of Arunachal Pradesh’s Nyishi tribes to the beats of American Jazz drummer Art Blakey and Konnakol (performing percussion syllables vocally in South Indian music), a range of influences are steeped into music producer and rapper Arunav Deka’s music vocabulary. The 21-year-old, who shifted base to the city from Guwahati two years ago and goes by the stage name Deka, is also a guitarist, cinematographer and video editor, attuned to drum rhythms, Folk, Funk, Jazz and Math Rock. Having grown up in Assam, Deka was introduced to music at the age of 12, and in the next four years, he had already sung for three Assamese albums. “However, I wanted to express myself better through music, and that’s when I turned to Rap (short for rhythm and poetry). One day, Gino heard me rap during a jam session and asked me to try it in front of Uncle Louiz too. He liked it, and decided to add it to the concert,” says Deka, who organised Mumbai Drum Day with junior Banks in January this year. He’s also collaborated with him and musicians like Taufiq Qureshi and Ranjit Barot for his online music community, Just Another Being.
“The event marks my first live collaboration with Uncle Louiz, Gino and Sheldon D’Silva. I have penned English rap for one of Uncle Louiz’s tracks, Dare To Dream. I picked it after listening to 60 songs,” says Deka, who learnt Konnakol at Chennai’s Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music. “Our country has a rich musical heritage and I want to showcase that. So, I fuse the Carnatic rhythms with rap. Many musical forms like Hip-Hop, Soul, R&B and Funk also have roots in Jazz,” he says. In the offing is an album featuring Assamese Folk instruments used during Gayon Bayon (village orchestra) performances in the state.
Mumbai's Jazz musicians recall their first performances on International Jazz Day last year (Read more)
Mumbai's love affair with Jazz (Read more)