This world jazz quartet embarks on a three-city tour to share their music to newer audiences in their trademark impromptu fashion

Experience a taste of world music this weekend with jazz quartet Refuge. Embarking on a three-day three-city tour, the band promises to render a spontaneously different performance in each of its shows. Featuring Aman Mahajan on the piano, Matt Littlewood on saxophone, Mishko M'ba on the bass guitar and Jeoraj George on drums, Refuge will play in Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore this weekend.

The quartet, influenced by jazz, classical and folk, plays a jazz format called world jazz and began playing as a band last May. “We play music that I’ve been writing for the last 10 years,” frontman Aman tells MetroPlus before kicking off the tour.

Over the year, he says the journey has been great. “We have really grown into our music and matured with a set that is about two-and-a-half hours long, which is why we are doing the tour now so we can share it with new audiences. We are also doing this with the intention that once we play for audiences across the country, we can start working on fresh music.”

Going by the band tagline ‘Themes From A Journey’, Aman says Refuge makes music that provides a bit of solace to people. “It’s a poetic way of saying we are all in a journey and this is the soundtrack for our lives.”

On what someone who has never heard their music before would experience, Aman says their audiences surprisingly react very directly to their kind of music. “It’s instrumental and not very cerebral or difficult to understand. We also play very emotionally and spontaneously which helps us connect with our audience.”

Though based in Bangalore, Aman has made the city his home only over the last five years. “I’m originally from Hyderabad and I went abroad for my studies. I’m really excited about doing what I love to do here,” adds the 27-year-old.

Aman further says that two of the band members are from Pondicherry. “So we don’t actually get a lot of time to work on our music. We meet up as and when there is going to be a performance. I send them chats, rough recordings and ideas. They have been doing it for a long time so we meet just before the show and go over our list. That’s one of the things that really keeps us fresh.”

On how much of a refuge the band has been to them, Aman says: “This is one project where everyone is really honest when they play on stage. It’s nice for all of us to play together on a platform where we can just be ourselves and play what we like.”

Looking ahead, Refuge plans to do another tour, this time of North India, and put together some recordings and videos. “We are planning a live album since our music sounds better done in a real-time live setting than a studio but, it’s still a tentative idea. After that we want to get onto the festival circuit. Ultimately, we want to keep playing our music wherever we go.”

On the future of jazz itself, Aman believes in today’s age where anything that is improvised and has a bit of the jazz tradition in it easily crosses over into the jazz space and the internet boom, people have exposure to a range of music. “With so many styles and genres, jazz looks like it will head heavily in the electronic and folk directions with various countries contributing their signature sounds into jazz standards.”

For musicians who want to improvise, his message is crystal clear. “Just keep working at it. It is not one of the things that is easily rewarded and it takes time, but it’s worth the effort,” he sums up.

Refuge plays at Shisha Jazz Cafe, ABC Farms in Pune on June 12, Vidyaranya School Auditorium in Hyderabad on June 13 and BFlat in Bangalore on June 14. For more details visit www.refugemusic.in