With their inspired and influential jazz sounds, Ranjit Barot and Contraband will round up the first quarter of That Friday Jazz series at a Worli venue this weekend
Innovation is the key to creating art. From the first artist to the latest creator, it is a constant rush to find the next new vision. Ranjit Barot and the Contraband will take stage today at a downtown venue with the same objective in mind. Their style seeks to bring a new direction to the city’s soundscape.
“The heart of what we do is improvisation. Our attempt at music is to never remain static or repetitive,” Barot explains. The session will see him join his fluid unit, Contraband — Mohini Dey, Mark Hartsuch, Arka Chakraborty, Vasundhara Vee, Rahul Wadhwani and Emmanuel Simon for this session— with their latest creations. Each one of the artistes brings their own influences, style and innovation to the table, Barot points out.
The idea for Contraband came together in 2022 when Barot sought collaborations with younger artistes. With five gigs already in the last three months, the composer shares that the band has developed an instinctive understanding. “We are so in tune that we have got all the material down now. We meet a day before the gig and brush up on things,” he remarks. Being a romantic at heart, the composer insists that his song-writing often blends his pop overtures into jazz. “The compositions of Contraband are a sum total of who I am; quite like a Venn diagram with multiple facets,” he says. Keeping with that, the gig might also see bassist Mohini Dey take over the vocals in singer Vasundhara Vee’s absence.
This innovative improvisation also reflects the idea that goes into the curation of G5A’s That Friday jazz sessions. This season, the venue has seen progressive groups such as The Revisit Project and Desmadre Orkestra turn up with radical performances. The gig today will mark the last of the season, with the venue picking it back up in October. Artistic director and founder, Anuradha Parikh says, “Our season has been about consolidating our programming vision which is collaborating with independent artists on work that is new and investigates both form and ideology.” To that end, the final session by the improvisational Barot and co. would be on par with the season.
(From left) Emmanuel Simon, Azamaan Hoyvoy, Vasundhara Vee, Mohini Dey, Barot, Arka Chakraborty and Mark Hartsuch of Contraband
For Parikh, the sense of innovation extends to more than music. Their latest property, Cinema House, she points out, is an attempt to transform the venue into a space for showcasing independent documentaries and films that struggle for space in the mainstream.
The focus on documentaries is inevitable this season; especially when an Indian documentary, The Elephant Whisperers, has won the Academy Award while another, All That Breathes, finished on the shortlist. The venue will also show an increased focus towards the cinema through masterclasses and interactive sessions with filmmakers in the coming season, Parikh remarks. “This is also a moment to take stock, of recognising the shoulders on which this achievement was made possible, and fashioning a roadmap as we go ahead. Cinema House will return in April with stellar documentaries and short films, a masterclass with documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, conversations with filmmakers exchanging notes on craft, politics and the future,” she says.
For today though, the focus remains on music. Barot remarks, “Most places that host live music today are driven by music lovers. The audience has changed. You cannot make assumptions about them. But it certainly makes for interesting times.” It certainly makes for a stylish end to the season, too.
On: Today; 7.30 pm
At: G5A Warehouse, Laxmi Mills, Mahalaxmi West.
Log on to: insider.in
Cost: Rs 499