A chilly harmony this!
Orchestrating delights_Louis Banks savouring a meal at The Park's Fire restaurant in New Delhi. Photo: Anu Pushkarna.
`THERE IS nothing like a wrong note in music, there is only poor chorus,' says Dambar Bahadur Budaprithi. Who? Relax, this is the name our best-known Jazz musician was born with in Nepal before his father got inspired by Louis Armstrong and named his prodigal son, Louis Banks, a name that Indians including his wife keep fiddling with. "Most pronounce it Louiz, some even Louij but when my wife calls thus I love it," quips Louis relishing some of his favourites at New Delhi's The Park's Fire restaurant recently.
Louis takes his statement literally to food where he hardly has any specific choices. He loves all and flaunts his figure for testimony.
"If I have to make choices, I can't do without biryani, Indian biryani in particular. No wonder, gosht dum biryani is the first to make an appearance on the platter. Hey! Louis asks for green chillies. "Whenever, I order biryani, I always ask for green chillies. They not only add to the taste but are good for digestion too."
Louis' family shifted to Darjeeling and he says perhaps that Darjeeling being a cold place was one of the reasons that he turned a hard core non-vegetarian.
"Chicken delicacies were my favourites. I always liked a fair amount of masala in my gravy. Chilly chicken still retains the position among the top."
Nahari gosht, again an indigenous variety, this time catches his eye and Louis recalls how his taste both musical - he used to play trumpet in Calcutta - and culinary got a world focus once he shifted to Mumbai. "In Mumbai, I developed a liking for Chinese food. However, I liked it my way, with lots of masala. There I had my first brush with Jazz. It changed my life." He reiterates he doesn't like dry things.
Indeed, it reflects in his work. From trumpet, he moved to piano. Soon keyboard became his companion with whom he moulded many a melody, quite a few genres. From shaping bands to background score in films to advertising jingles, Louis flowed with the top in the business. He experimented with the electronic side of the music with unparalleled flair and after satiating his worldly appetite, is now working at fusion.
His latest attempt is Rhythm Asia, which he has formed with Niladri Kumar and Taufeeq Qureshi. Contrary to the popular belief, he holds fusion demands accomplished artists. "Fusion is all about improvisation. Here the music is not written down from the first note to the last. We do have a starting and concluding note, but in between it is all creativity and spontaneity."
Goa prawn curry demands attention, and Louis couldn't deny for a while. He denies fusion is taking the focus off from the pure art or is diluting classical music. "When Niladri goes on his sitar swings, it is pure classical, we play the supporting role. It is true with Jazz as well. I have made it compatible with Indian scales."
Louis concurs with Taufeeq's point: Young audience is not comfortable sitting through concerts. "In such a situation, if Niladri's sitar or Taufeeq's tabla, inspires somebody to listen to Pandit Ravi Shankar or Ustad Zakir Hussain then our effort is worth it."
Time to experiment something exotic with non-vegetarian anti-pasti platter and Louis comes back to his introductory comment. "To me there has to be a personal flight of freedom in music, not constrained by any rules or norms." An engaging thought for dessert, but time constraint needs to be appreciated. Alas!
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