The third concert in the line up of The Hindu Friday Review November Fest 2012 had the Hamburg musicians drawing the audience into their performance
Joscheba Schnetter and her band are living proof that jazz isn’t reserved for a classically-trained, notation-toting niche audience. From when the curtains rose to a beautiful woman jiving to her rhythms, until they fell before an audience clapping beats to her voice, Joscheba kept her music nuanced yet accessible and entertaining.
The concert opened with the gentle original Open Up And Let Me In and we were introduced to Joscheba’s incredible ease with vocal gymnastics. Against drummer Derek Scherzer’s hand-drummed rhythm, her falsettos mingled seamlessly with open-throated notes. Up next, was Brazilian composer Antonio Jobim’s Waters Of March. Despite being recorded by numerous artists over the last five decades, Joscheba’s take put a new spin on the jazz standard with the Norah Jones-like velvetiness of her voice. The triplets and runs of Buggy Braune’s piano added to the perfect build-up backed by Derek’s crashing cymbals.
Like songwriters world-over, Joscheba too, draws lyric inspiration from life experiences. All the leftovers from a broken relationship “were put in a mental box and locked away” in her next original Memories. The slow, foot-tapping number sought first to “wrap her memories in pure gold” and then make them into a “work of art”. The song also featured a fantastic sweep-picking guitar solo by Johannes Wennrich which took Joscheba’s vocal note-play and added magic to it.
Who’s That Voice Inside My Head revealed new sides to Joscheba’s vocal texture. Beginning with warm crooning in the lower octaves, she built the song up one semitone at a time to a convincingly aggressive climax, angered even more by Johannes’ finger-flying solo. It all came to a numbing close with the refrain of “I’m trying to be refreshed and released”. The aggression continued into Joscheba’s cover of Abbey Lincoln’s Throw It Away. Inspired by a line in a book which says “You can never lose a thing if it belongs to you”, Joscheba’s pulsating voice urged one to “Throw it away/ Give your love, live your life/ Each and every day”.
Windmills took the ideas in Who’s That Voice further with its lyrics on internalised anger and frustration. Swinging between the major and minor scales with atonal progressions, the song recreated the eerie madness of a troubled mind. It also brought on stage local talent, Devika who first alternated lines with Joscheba and then broke into a Carnatic solo in Kalyani raaga. Add to that Joscheba’s incredible scat singing and it was a piece to remember for a lifetime.
“If that was the rainstorm, then the sun’s about to come out again!” said Joscheba after Windmills and launched right into the short and sprightly Spring. Next, she taught an enthusiastic audience to sing a short chorus of four notes in ‘ooo’s over which she sang Lately. Unsure at first, but warming up soon enough, the audience pitched in every time the refrain came along.
On The Move was the last song of the evening and had the entire hall keeping time to the catchy ‘You keep me up all night’ hook. Once Joscheba got the groove going, Derek worked his way across the hi-hats, cymbals and toms to an incredible drum solo, all the while trading beats with Arnd Geise on the bass. It was an evening where musically-adventurous and perfectly-matched musicians displayed their individual prowess yet played off each other’s brilliance to give the audience a memorable experience.