When a song Fire in a Pet Shop by a jazz band comes with dog and cat sounds, punctuated by saxophone and a trombone, and the pianist walks around with a scary red mask on at a gig, then the claim that the UK-based quintet makes about their music — “a cross between Stravinsky, Meshuggah and Frank Zappa” — seems to put one’s jazz state of mind out of the window.
On the final day of the recently concluded Goa International Jazz Live at Stonewater Eco Resort in Goa last month, World Service Project’s one hour set overflowed into the highlight of the evening — Malika Tirolian’s set — and the audience couldn’t stop headbanging. There was even a call for the moshpit. The band performed as the part of a festival that is a precursor to the legendary Jazz Yatra, which is being revived in Delhi and will feature jazz heavyweight Stanley Jordan as its headlining act in February.
The three-year-old British band World Service Project put the word “punk” and “funk” in front of jazz, holding their argument that jazz is not all about sit down music and well-behaved people. Their brass glitches enmeshed with super crisp rhythm patterns, superb co-ordination and no holds barred humour (dressed in 19th century military uniform, they were caustic about Brexit and various British stereotypes), this brainchild of pianist Dave Morecroft can easily be called one of the finest gigs at Teamworks’ jazz festival. “We want people to fall in love with jazz. Our music is jazz but it’s also not so jazz. It is based on improvised music and takes elements from rock, punk and pop. What’s interesting about our music is that it’s really different and people really haven’t heard of this kind of music before,” says Ower, who was accompanied by Raphael Clarkson on the trombone, Arthur O’Hara on the bass and Harry Pope on drums.
Pope adds that most members of the band grew up learning traditional jazz at various institutes, “but we also grew up listening to bands like Nirvana and Zappa,” he says. “As okay as we are playing regular jazz, which we all still do with other bands, five of us coming together and creating this music was improvising to our heart’s content without any kind of boundaries and that idea was fascinating,” says Pope, of the adventurous grouping of a plethora of sounds such as honking, ducks, dogs, and marching.
The band’s set also included tracks from their latest album For King and Country, a sarcastic take on England’s monarchy and political system and included songs such as Requiem for a Worm and the oddly structured Fuming Duck.
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