Jazz musicians from Italy, Colombia, Spain, the USA and India came together on Tuesday evening for the album release gig of Live at Teatro Bismantova, Italy by Tarun Balani Collective at India Habitat Centre. The artists played nine songs (from the album) each with a unique forte, but consistent with the ‘Balani’ style. The group of four (Balani on drums, Tiziano Bianchi on the trumpet, Gary Richards on the piano and Jayant Manchanda on the bass) started the gig with Arjuna, and eased into Arjuna reprise, where Bianchi’s trumpet blended smoothly with Balani’s drums, while the Manchanda bass gave it spine. Pictures showed how fusion jazz is growing popular as vocalist Gina Savino from Spain had the audience on their feet.
The concert proceeded to seem more like a cosy get-together of the musicians and their families, with Balani dedicating a song each to his parents and his girlfriend.
Almost all the guest performers of the night were temporary faculty members of Global Music Institute (the music school started by Balani and his elder brother Aditya Balani). In Azan which featured Priscilla Vela from Spain on the double bass, had Ujwal Nagar — the Hindustani vocalist of Delhi’s Advaita, and Balani’s former bandmate — join in. The notion of ‘jazz’ was soon dispelled as Hindi and Urdu lyrics complemented the music, like strawberries and cream.
Vasundhara Vee, from Delhi’s Adil and Vasundhara was the next guest with If only. Her solo, the brief and perfect acapella, reminded us of a combination of Etta James, Christina Aguilera and Nina Simone. The last song of the evening — Let the light in — was a peppy jazz number with Balani’s drums and Richards’ piano coming together. It preceded Balani’s solo, which got a big round of applause, while the trumpet and the bass joined in for the last few bars of some good jazz.