Jazz enthusiasts in the Capital made their way to Nehru Park for the fourth edition of the Delhi International Jazz Festival, surviving traffic jams and threatening skies. Organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the weekend festival had Tres Butacas from Colombia, the Polish Obara Quartet and Mina Agossi Trio from France on Saturday, who treated the audience to some unadulterated jazz.
While the Colombian trio with their guitar, bass and drums wove a musical fabric of South America, they soon complemented it with elements of Arabic folk melodies, which was further livened up by a ‘jugalbandi’ between the drums and half a tabla. They also performed their hit number Rio Cali from their eponymous album.
“We came together first in 2010 for our album Tres Butacas (Three Chairs). Over 90 per cent was Camilio’s compositions, some were influenced by Colombian rhythms but the rest are original compositions. Music from the north has drums and is dance oriented, while mountain music is slow. Since we were exposed to all kinds of Colombian music, we tried to recreate that in our album. The jazz scene in India is similar to Colombia. There are not many musicians or fans, but it is growing and we want people to be open to this music,” said Pedro Acosta, the band’s drummer.
The Obara Quartet played true blue European Jazz, the saxophone reminiscent of music bars, enticing one to dance to the sounds. The atmosphere too induced a state of carefree abandon, with the aroma of cocktails hanging overhead, and fairy lights falling like a meteor shower from the trees. Mina Agossi Trio jazzed up the stage next, with music that had a touch of Rock, and even a tribute to Jimmy Hedrix. The vocalist trilled, whistled and echoed songs for a captivate crowd.
On Sunday, the last day of the festival, people had arrived with picnic hampers and throws to lay out on the grass, with every kind of alcohol basking in the blue lights from trees. There were hawkers wading through the crowd, selling everything from papads to beer cans (the cold ones were priced higher) and vodka. We also spotted a stall full of viny records at the venue selling records of Dave Brubeck, Louis Armstrong, Pink Floyd, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Indian artistes such as RD Burman, priced between Rs 500 and Rs 2,000.
What piqued jazz lovers were South Korean band – Modern Han. On their maiden trip, the five-piece band — comprising Sun Cho on a traditional Korean string instrument called Ajaeng, Heon Young An on the Daegeum (a Korean flute), Seong Jae on the drums, Hangyu Park on the piano and Sora Sim on the vocals – performed a blend of Korean classical with a hint of Jazz.
Their individual classical training came out with the beautifully timed solos, though what was missing was the true essence of jazz. Together for 13 years, the members said they came together when they were in middle school and have been influenced by Chinese music, which was apparent during their performance. Spain’s Ximo Tebar and IVAM Jazz Ensemble was peppy and ensured everyone bounced back into jazz after Modern Han’s performance.
But the act that transported everyone to the era of jazz, was P J Perry Trio from Canada, comprising Paul John (PJ) Perry on the saxophone, Dan Skakun on the drums and John Hyde on the bass. Perry, 72, moved effortlessly around the stage as the audience swayed to the trio’s catchy interpretations of jazz standards.
Their improvisations were one of the best we have heard of late, and the crazy ease with which Skakun’s hands moved on the drums during his solo, complete with inter-changing drum sticks and brush in true 80’s-Jazz style, was like watching a master at work. Perry’s solo was breath-taking (and breathless for him) and had all three elements came together like a masterpiece. But then again, what else could we expect from musicians who have been playing together for the past 40 years.
With inputs from Dipavali Hazra and Pradhuman Sodha