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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Finding Answers

Guitarist Aditya Balani on his solo album and bringing modern jazz and Hindustani classical music together.

Written by Somya Lakhani | Published: December 18, 2013 3:31:41 am

IT WAS while studying at the Berklee College of Music in the US a few years ago that Aditya Balani wrote a bunch of songs. Every chance meeting with a musician then meant jamming on those tracks. By the time Balani would get home,the songs would have changed course in his head,imbibing styles of those musicians he met. Eager to bring these jazz numbers to India,the guitarist-composer toured the country in 2010. It was this trip back home that finally sowed the seeds of Answers,the guitarist’s solo jazz album,which he released on Sunday in the Capital. “The tour was so well-received that it gave me the confidence to record it. As soon as I got back to the US,I went to a studio and recorded the songs in a day,” he says.

Well known in the indie music industry as one of the founders of decade-old band Advaita,Balani has come a long way with this eight-track album. While the melodies are Indian,the harmonic settings are modern jazz. The 30-year-old refrained from using the electric guitar and went with the fretless guitar instead,which lets one explore microtones and when played a certain way can sound like the sarod or the oudh. This is evident in tracks such as Quicksand,which has a middle-eastern vibe and Bandish which thrives on a Hindustani classical sound.

For Answers,Balani has collaborated with US-based trumpeter Aaron Bahr,Indian pianist Sharik Hasan,Israeli bassist Haggai Cohen and Bulgaria-based viola player Mimi Hristova,with his brother Tarun on the drums. The album will be sold by Shubha Mudgal’s label Underscore Records and is priced at Rs 200. While working on the songs,Balani also embarked on a journey full of questions about life and its meaning. “In music,I found my answers and that’s why the album is also titled Answers,” he says.

While bringing the two vastly different genres together,the thought of what the purists will say did cross his mind. “I am not portraying myself as a Hindustani classical musician,so it shouldn’t be a problem. Also,I am not bringing old school jazz to the fore. It’s modern jazz,which is all about experimentation,” he says.

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