International Jazz Festival kicks off at South Mumbai this weekend

Updated: Nov 23, 2017, 10:34 IST | Krutika Behrawala and Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

As an international jazz festival kicks off at a SoBo venue, we catch up with two of the acts ahead of their performances

The city's rich jazz legacy will get a further fillip at the International Jazz Festival slated for this weekend. The line-up includes The Kevin Davy Quartet from the UK, Italian vocalist Elisabetta Antonini, Austrian quintet Worry Later and American act Greg Banaszak Quintet, apart from the Kolkata-based The Latination. The final day will witness a jam session where the leaders of all the acts will take to the stage for an impromptu instrumental conversation.

(From left) Pradyumna Singh Manot, Emmanuel Simon, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Bijit Bhattacharya and Premjit Dutta
(From left) Pradyumna Singh Manot, Emmanuel Simon, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Bijit Bhattacharya and Premjit Dutta

Farrahnaz Irani, the general manager for international music, NCPA, says, "We have noticed that over the past few years, jazz as a genre is growing vastly and becoming very popular in the city. Our aim is to further educate audiences in jazz by conducting more workshops, appreciation courses and master classes." That gives an indication about what the venue has lined up over the next few months. But before that, we spoke to Latination and British icon Kevin Davy about what to expect from their performances at the festival, and about jazz in general.

On : November 24, 25 and 26 
At : NCPA, Tata Theatre, Nariman Point. 
Log on to : ncpamumbai.com 
Entry : Rs.300 to Rs.1,000

Rolling back the years
Kevin Davy is a jazz veteran who earned his musical chops in Manchester while studying at a university there. “I was playing the trumpet before I shifted to Manchester from Nottingham in 1986 as a 25-year-old. But my involvement in music began to get deeper there when I met my mentor and friend, Colin Stansfield, who ran a weekly jazz and improvisation workshop.

Rolling back the years

I consider that a turning point in how I viewed workshops and music in general,” Davy tells. Now, having formed a quartet, he is gearing up for his maiden performance in India. Their gig will roll back the years, since they will play compositions penned by the legendary Miles Davis, as also originals from Davy’s own repertoire. We ask him about how jazz in its purest form holds relevance when sub-genres are gaining increasing prevalence today. He answers, “The jazz standards and American Songbook tend to be the Bible for jazz musicians. Everyone is expected to know a certain amount and be familiar with that tradition. It seems to underpin a lot of contemporary jazz. It is the foundation.”

When Latin meets jazz

The festival opens with a performance by The Latination, one of the few bands in India that blend jazz with Latin music. Launched in 2014, the Kolkata-based band, featuring pianist Pradyumna Singh Manot, timbale player Premjit Dutta and bass guitarist Bijit Bhattacharya, is helmed by French percussionist Emmanuel Simon. The quartet's compositions are influenced by Latin American rhythms of salsa, rumba, cha cha cha, guaracha (genre of Cuban music), cumbia and merengue. "Jazz usually features piano and trumpet but we've also added percussion for Latin American sounds," says Simon, who arrived in Kolkata in 2011 for research on Indian classical music. He joined Los Amigos, considered the country's first Latin jazz band that was founded by the late percussion virtuoso Monojit Datta. Here, he met Latination's fellow musicians. In this performance, singer Sanjeeta Bhattacharya will join the band on stage. "We've performed together a couple of times before. As a vocalist, she adds a different flavour and brings in new possibilities of compositions," says Simon.


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