For the love of jazz

Published: Feb 28, 2010, 12:34 IST | Lalitha Suhasini |

Composer Sandeep Chowta self funds the Scott Henderson jazz trio show in Mumbai next month. Says it's always been about the music

Composer Sandeep Chowta self funds the Scott Henderson jazz trio show in Mumbai next month. Says it's always been about the music

THE composer from Chennai resurfaces only when he is bringing down some of the best contemporary jazz talent from the West. Next month, Sandeep Chowta brings down the Scott Henderson jazz trio minus Kirk Covington on drums, for a single show in Mumbai. The line-up includes fusion guitarist Scott Henderson, John Humphrey on bass and Alan Hertz on drums.

For Sandeep Chowta, who has organised several jazz concerts in India Metro early last year (Mitch Forman, Chuck Loeb, Dave Weckl, Eric Marienthal, Melvin Davis) followed by Jeff Richman and the Yellow Jackets, Drummer Virgil Donati, bassist Bunny Brunel the year before, Oz axeman Frank Gambale and classical guitarist Maurizio Colonna in 2007 it's not just about a show anymore.

"The one week that the musicians are here, we are in the studio doing constructive songwriting. They play even on my film records. It's blissful. I want to be in the same room with my friends listening to these musicians who we've heard on audio tapes years ago. I've told everybody that when Scott's here, I'm gonna be his roadie," says Sandeep.

It's an Epic collaboration

Matters of the heart, Sandeep's collaborative jazz album, which has been three years in the making, is long overdue for release. "We wanted to catch the Grammies this year, but then realised that there wasn't enough time. We didn't want to rush it," says Sandeep, who has teamed up with the likes of Pandit Vishwamohan Bhatt, jazz fusion drummer Dave Weckl, Spirogyra founder Jay Beckenstein and bassist Scott Ambush among the 40 odd musicians whose photos are up on Sandeep's hall of fame at his suburban studio Yatra. The album has 17 songs and Sandeep wants to pull out all stops to make it a special release.

"With the current scenario of no record stores in the West, I want to offer great liner notes, and we also have some video footage of the concerts that I want to use. Maybe I'll release all of that as one package." he says. The album is scheduled to release some time this year.

The composer says that concerts and visits by various international jazz musicians are opening up a gateway. "There's Jagjit Singh's violinist Deepak Pandit on my album and Nitin Sawhney's flautist Ashwin as well  when some of the jazz musicians heard them, they were blown away."

Jazz yatra

Sandeep hopes that all musicians, especially those who have leanings towards a Western sound, show up at the concert. "There's no bigger opportunity for us to learn from them. Scott is a great teacher. He has great insights into musicality, which needn't even be about guitar playing.

I've kept tickets as low as Rs 500 so that students show up," he says adding, "It's like how Jeff Richmond said last year, 'If I want to learn Indian music, I'll come to India.' Considering we can't keep going to the US, we have to make the most of what we get to learn when talent like this comes down." Last year, Yellow Jackets' drummer Will Kennedy taught drummers how to tune, "which was incredible," recalls Sandeep.

"I'm going to keep doing it come what may. I do a movie only so that I can support this scene." Catch the concert: The Scott Henderson Trio will play at St. Andrew's Auditorium, Bandra on March 15, 2010. Tickets priced at Rs 500 onwards. Available at the venue. Call 9930711523

Tune in to scott Henderson

Tore Down House, Scott Henderson's second solo album that released in 1997, and Well To the Bone, his third album, are Sandeep's top two picks if you want an introduction to the guitarist's fiery bluesy jazz style.

"They are both high energy and have Thelma Houston (Grammy winning R&B vocalist) singing on them. Scott loves the blues but also likes to bring in a little complexity, making it an incredible blend of jazz and blues," Sandeep.

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