In an outdoor venue,the third meet of the revamped Pune Jazz and Blues Club was seeped in music and bonhomie
Even before entering the venue,the sound of jazz music was in the air,carried out by the breeze. The band was playing a jazz classic,Caravan by Duke Ellington. Some time during the song,the drummer began his solo,drumming out deep jungle beats,creating the perfect setting for our entry into the tamed jungle of creeping vines and swaying trees and palm fronds.
It was the third meeting of the Pune Jazz and Blues Club which was formed three months ago,as a reinvented avatar of the older Pune Jazz Club. The Jazz Club would have regular sessions at the Max Mueller Bhavan,but its popularity eventually faltered because of the classroom-like feel of the sessions. The newer version instead has the monthly meets out in the open at Shisha Cafe on the first Sunday of every month,a concept that seems to have taken hold of the jazz-loving community in the city.
The band members seemed to bask in a natural spotlight of sorts,from the sunlight seeping in from above. The sunlight,so hot and harsh outside,filtered in through the green foliage overhead and cast a benevolent glow on everyone seated around the stage. Ashdin Bharucha,the frontman of the band and the guitarist,introduced himself and the other members David Mansey on drums,Aubrey Dias on keyboard and Jacob Panicker on bass. They began to play old classics such as Caravan and Autumn Leaves (made famous by Nat King Cole),songs about life and love. Every once in a while,they broke into songs such as When The Cookie Jar Is Empty,a Michael Franks song which has lighter,more humorous lyrics. The musicians were quite young themselves,and while they played covers of classic jazz tracks,they added their own interpretations of the songs.
Throughout,the crowd stays with the music,swinging and shaking in time. Some of them raise their gleaming,sweating mugs of beer for a toast every time their favourite songs play. Long thought of as a genre appreciated only by the older generations,jazz music seemed to have several young takers at the gig. There were the expected groups of older listeners,as well as groups of young college students,and some younger children who were accompanying their parents.
As the band members changed chords and improvised,the audience was lifted into better spirits,and it wasnt long before everyone broke out of their groups and cliques and joined each other in discussions about music. It was a packed house,with several people having to stand and watch the performance,but even half-way into the gig,more people kept pouring in. The club had promised an hour-long set,but when the clock went past the hour,nobody seemed to want to stop. The band continued with a seemingly everlasting list of tracks,while the audience kept ordering more beer and cocktails,perhaps in the hope that the idyllic Sunday afternoon would never end.