Shrinkhla Sahai soaked up the two day jazz fest held in the capital this March
With an array of red lights and silvery decoration leading up the pathway, one felt like one was walking right into a New York Jazz club, only to be greeted by a swarm of people sprawled across the verdant grand lawns of Nehru Park. Delhites cheered once again to the world of jazz as the second edition of the Delhi Jazz festival organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in collaboration with Seher opened in March.
The first band to storm the stage was the Wojtek Mazolewski Qintet from Poland. The composer, musician, double bass player and bass guitarist from Gdansk—Wojtek Mazolewski, is the founder of the band, teaming up with Oskar Torok on the trumpet, Marek Pospieszalski on saxophone, Joanna Duda on the piano and Jerzy Rogiewicz on percussion. Their high-spirited folkish blend and the chartbuster Smells like Tape Spirit had aficionados on their feet. Next up was the Indian band HFT featuring guitarist Arjun Sen, bass player Lew Hilt and Suchet Malhotra (percussion). With a wide range of influences and experimental style their act was a heady mix of funk, psychedelia, drum grooves and syncopation. As the queue of cars tailed on outside the venue, the band concluded with a Delhi traffic-inspired piece called No Room to Move. The last act of the day drove the audience to a crescendo of excitement. The Louis Banks Matrixx featured the father-son duo (Louis Banks on keyboard) and Gino Banks (drums) along with bass player Sheldon D’Silva and saxophonist Tara Faral.
The second day opened with the Indian guest band Soul’d Out. Their lively and groovy act set the stage for the vibrant evening. The Dini Virsaladze quartet from Georgia led by pianist Dinara (Dini) Virsaladze along with guitarist David Masteranov, Levan Deisadze on the bass and Nika Abashmadze on the drums presented a varied line-up of original compositions. Imaginative improvisations on the piano matched with precise guitar riffs and punchy percussion in pieces like Smile and Umbrella were the highlights of the performance. Bengaluru-based band Moonarra with Jagadeesh M.R (Guitars, Oud, composer), Madhuri (singer/songwriter), Prakash Sontakke (slide guitar, Hindustani vocals), Karthik Mani (Percussionist/ Drummer) and Wilson Kenneth (Electric bass) attempted a concoction of jazz and Indian classical music. Kicking off with a bluesy version of Vande Matram, they moved onto layered improvisations with jazzy orchestration based on ragas Charukeshi and Kalyani. The final act of the day was by Eol Trio of France. Powerhouse performances by Denis Girard (pianist and keyboard), Laurent David (playing the bass guitar) and Xavier Girard on drums were marked by unbound electronica and trance-inducing ‘progressive jazz rock’.
The final day opened with the Bica-Daerr Stick Trio from Germany. The deep groovy texture of their sound and classic style has won them accolades across the Berlin jazz scene. The second performance by Magos Herrera of Mexico transported us to another end of the jazz spectrum. With her velvety voice, deep resounding melodies accompanied by rhythmic improvisations, the mood of the evening turned soulful and nostalgic. The Grammy nominee for best vocal jazz, Herrera is a singer-songwriter and stunning performer. The closing act by Elkano Browning Cream from Spain was a ‘scrumptious’ delight of funk, blues and pure groove.
The annual jazz extravaganza is indeed emerging as a hub for old time jazz connoisseurs as well as a new brigade of music enthusiasts excited about being initiated into a genre that is now settling deep into the capital’s cultural consciousness.