Every decade has had a genre of music that emerges as a form of public expression: be it Folk and Soul during the Hippie era of the 1970s or Grunge Rock bands of 1990s. Like Rock, Jazz music too played its part as the voice of the African-American community.
To celebrate this form of music as a mode for spreading peace, achieving unity, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared April 30 to be celebrated as International Jazz Day in 2011. To celebrate the spirit of this day, over 30 young and acclaimed Indian Jazz artistes will come together for a performance curated by Louiz Banks in Mumbai.
“When I first read about International Jazz Day, and how it is celebrated in over 150 countries, I felt that something had to be done here. The performance will be a good education about Jazz. There is a stigma associated with genres like Jazz in India that it is alien music. But Jazz is similar to Indian Classical music - both have unlimited boundaries and rely on improvisation. They are two sides of the same coin,” says Banks.
Banks terms Jazz as democratic music, and has been working on combining Indian music with Jazz since the 1980s with the group Indian Jazz Sangam with Carnatic vocalist Ramamani and later on with another band called Silk featuring Shankar Mahadevan and Sivamani. “I call it the wide umbrella of Contemporary Indian Classical, and through it I am now creating fresh new sounds combined with Jazz and several young musicians through my group, Ganga Shakti,” he adds.
Ganga Shakti comprises of Sharmistha Chatterjee (vocals), Finix Ramdas (Carnatic violin), his son Gino Banks on drums, Banks on keyboard and 17-year-old bass guitarist Mohini Dey. The event will also feature Ranjit Barot, Dhruv Ghanekar, Sanjay Divecha, Gary Lawyer, Shefali and Joe Alvarez and Dominique Cerejo. Banks has planned the performance loosely on the chronological development of Jazz, starting from Blues.
Helping him build up this momentum is a list of several artistes, which includes Vivienne Pocha, Samantha Edwards, Indrajit Sharma Tubby, Tala Faral, Karan Joseph, Khwab Haria, Floyd Fernandes, Esani Dey and Ryan Sadri.
“When I was planning the event, the venue was a big concern, because we did not want it to be a paid event as the day aims to raise awareness, and Jazz was born out of oppression. That’s when Bluefrog came on board; with their support, I’ve been able to curate this performance,” says Banks.
“There were times when it was very difficult to stay afloat and manage a family but I loved Jazz so much that I didn’t want to give it up. Once when I was playing at a restaurant in Kolkata, RD Burman was there too. After listening to us, he called me and that’s when I worked with him on my first movie, Mukti. After that things got better, but I never let Commercial music take over and always kept practising Jazz. Jazz allows you to do that.” - Louiz Banks
On April 30, 9.30 pm onwards
At BlueFrog, Lower Parel.