Come December, the city will welcome music lovers to the celebration of jazz, where music fans will lend an ear to aficionados of the genre in its purest form. In its inaugural edition, the two-day ‘Open Hand Jazz Festival’ (OHJF), will feature six bands from across India and the US. Prithvideep Singh and Nipun Cheema have conceptualised this festival with an interdisciplinary team.
“At its core, the festival aims to generate curiosity and increase the awareness of a genre that despite big names has paradoxically low audiences,” says Singh, of the Upstairs Club and also the Project Director of the festival. He graduated from Cornell University with a degree in engineering and a minor in music and is also an avid blues vocalist.
The name ‘Open Hand’ plays off the iconic local Chandigarh landmark, but also symbolises openness to new cultures and art forms. In that spirit, the festival has a carefully curated line-up that includes jazz in different avatars including blues, funk, soul and Latin. “With the active support of international communities, musicians, partners and authorities, the OHJF team aims to engineer a transition that not only promotes jazz but creates a richer and larger cultural appetite for the creative arts,” says Cheema, who holds a research degree in folk accordion ethnomusicology from Cardiff University and curates projects such as ZER013, the Colab teaching studio and plays piano for Song of the Ghetto and Combo3. Apart from music, the festival will have poetry sessions, performances by local musicians and workshops on jazz, its history, and evolution.
As for the line-up, from Boston to Mumbai, accordions to vibraphones, contemporary to Latin jazz, it promises to be a power-packed festival. Vasundhara Lee from Mumbai (Blues/Soul/Swing); Bluegrass Journeymen, a collective of accomplished musicians who present traditional American Bluegrass Music; Poco Loco aka Paddy and Friends (Kolkata), a groovy mix of popular music with their own Latin jazz flavour; Song of the Ghetto (Chandigarh, Jazz/ Folk/ Balkan), a musical project led by Cheema; Kitchensink (Crossover Jazz/ Rock), a refreshingly original and sought-after voice in the independent music circuit of New Delhi — will all be part of the festival. All the way from Boston is MND FLO (Contemporary Jazz), with members from across the world.
The Open Hand Jazz Festival will be at the Upstairs Club, WelcomHotel Bella Vista, Panchkula, on December 1 and 2, 7 pm onwards