Jazz and a Halfhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/jazz-and-a-half-2/

Jazz and a Half

Indian classical meets jazz in the band UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble’s debut album.

Indian classical meets jazz in the band UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble’s debut album.

Numerous tales have been recounted of the many trippy summers of the 1970s when the world over,the youth was swaying to The Beatles,Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. The hippie life was picking up across the globe and India too saw the emergence of several rock ‘n’ roll bands. One of them was Human Bondage,which gave us Radha Thomas,the indie star of the ’70s.

A jazz musician,who received training in drupad singing under the Dagar Brothers,Thomas has been incorporating these two influences together to create a new sound with her almost two-year-old Bengaluru-based band,UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble . “I will never reveal the full form or the meaning of UNK. Even the band members don’t have a clue,” says Thomas with a laugh. On an India tour to promote the band’s debut album,I Only Have Eyes For You,she performed at Out of the Box in Hauz Khas Village on Wednesday. The chemistry between the band members was spellbinding,with Thomas on the vocals,Aman Mahajan on the piano,Max Littlewood on saxophone,Keith Peters on bass,Suresh Bascara on drums and Ramjee Chandran on the guitar. Peters was filling in for the band’s Puducherry-based bassist Mishko M’ba,who could not make it to Delhi.

Part of the Clinton Cerejo episode on Coke Studio India @MTV,Mahajan,26,says,“Radha found me on YouTube and approached me. We wanted to bring jazz and Indian classical music together in our work and that’s when we began making music together.”

Revered in the indie music circuit for its experimental jazz tunes,the band’s eight-track album shifts from traditional jazz arrangements to Indian classical influences and also walks past some Latin tunes. Apart from some originals,I Only Have Eyes For You also has some standard jazz tunes such as Menina Moca by Luiz Antonio,reworked by the ensemble.

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Talk to Thomas about the 1970s hangover and she reluctantly says,“There are more venues and the internet has also played an important role in creating awareness. The atmosphere is very competitive now.” She adds,“Why do people always talk about the past? We weren’t exactly rockstars,you know. Those were the good times but we need to move on.” It is this obsession of sorts with moving on that’s also visible in her music in the album.