Celebrating music

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Event The Bangalore School of Music celebrates its 25th year in swinging style with concerts that span various interesting forms

Let the music play onAt the jazz fusion festivalphoto: Marianne De Nazareth
Let the music play onAt the jazz fusion festivalphoto: Marianne De Nazareth

Bangalore School of Music will be a flurry of events all year to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Last week the Jazz Fusion Festival, co-ordinated by committee member, Jagadeesh M.R., was held at the Alliance Francaise.

The concert began with the Rex Rosario Quintet, led by saxophonist Rex Rosario, who comes from a family of musicians. The group has been playing for over 22 years and find it's not so hard to simplify jazz and keep it together. “You need not learn to appreciate jazz, anybody should be able to enjoy it,” said Vinoo Mathew, the bassist, as he introduced the band, with Barath on piano, Joe Louis on lead guitar and John D'souza on drums.

They opened with a piece Rex had composed for his father, the late, J.P. Rosario, trumpet player. The piece was a mellow opening and allowed the audience to slip into a comfortable bubble that rose and fell with the tonal variations of the music.

It was followed by a song with an urgent beat, a score perfect for Bonnie and Clyde. Next came “Karnataka Special”, a song about a train, and if they did not explain that in the prelude, the chugging of the drums was a clean give away. The song gave them all a chance to show off with some cool bass lines and a tight piano solo that made it one of the more memorable performances of the night.

The next best thing to happen was Dolores Joel, the vocalist who sang with the Rex Rosario Quintet. With a voice that moved like butter on warm toast, she closed the evening performance with a rendition of “Hey Mambo”.

The Kaya Quintet came next, led by Arati Rao on vocals, Aman Mahajan on piano, Keith Peters on electric bass guitar and Amit Mirchandani on drums.

While Aarti sang jazz like she was talking about an old friend she grew up with, her band helped her out with riffs, cues and a setting. She sang about being a “whimpering, simpering child” as the music rose to the swish of her waist and fell to the flick of her finger.

They also performed “Tokyo Blues” by Horace Silver and there were definitely references to Teriyaki, sake, wasabi, and I am pretty sure, Mr. Miyagi got mention somewhere in between. There was a Cole Porter number that had the audience doing the clichéd but mandatory foot tap.

“Although the Bangalore School of Music is about classical music, we are fascinated by all music,” said Aruna Sunderlal, Director of the school, before Flamenco Fusion guitarist Peter Dickson took the stage. He opened his performance with a song he composed on the spot, which he played on the guitar he designed.

Peter Dickson is Australia's Oriental/Indo/Latin Jazz fusion guitar maestro, on an exciting musical journey that started in his teens. He honed his skills in the jazz clubs of London and it was after he moved to Australia that his musical career vaulted onto the world stage.

His song, which loosely translated from Spanish means “The Rhumba Of The Night”, was composed in 2001 and helps Dickson show off his skills with flamenco. This was followed by “Mahogany”, a song he wrote and dedicated to the neck of the guitar.

The evening concluded with a performance by Traffic Jam, a band that started through informal jam parties. Marcus Daniel was on piano, Eric Samuel on guitar, Jefferson Dharmaraj on bass, Jessica Morwood on vocals and Daniel Ship on percussion. Their music style varied from jazz standards, consisting of swing, bossanova, and salsa along with some funk and blues.


Brilliant alchemy

By the look of the crowded Alliance Francaise auditorium on a Sunday evening, Bangaloreans seem to know how to work hard and party just as hard. As part of the three days of the Jazz Fusion Fest held by the Bangalore School of Music (BSM) celebrating 25 years of its existence, Manoj George 4 Strings and Moon Arra World Fusion Band regaled a hall full of jazz aficionados to some original jazz compositions.

Manoj George and Frijo Francis both come armed with Licentiate degrees from the Trinity College of Music, London. Without a doubt the band consists of some of the finest musicians in the country, including Indian and world percussionists to produce breathtaking music.

All the compositions, save one, were deeply rooted in Indian raagas and folk tunes but western music training rings through the alchemy. Well travelled across the globe, Manoj explained that no matter where they went, the group finally found their way home to their beloved India. An amazing rendition of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's “Symphony No. 25 in G Minor” had the audience rooted to its seat. Possibly Mozart would have enjoyed the addition of the drums to his composition, in the group's take on the original.

“Dad, that's the Titan song,” said a little voice in the second row. Manoj played it as a tribute to the maestro, who died in penury in an unmarked grave. “If there was anything like trademarks in Mozart's time, he would have been a very rich man,” he mused.

Striding across the stage in a gold-edged cream jacket, Manoj played his custom-made fiddle effortlessly and was brilliantly supported by Frijo on the keyboards, Nirmal Antony on the drums and Muthu Kumar Vardarajan on the tabla. Their finale, entitled “Anybody Listening?”, was a cry from the heart for Bangalore, which Manoj says has had its infrastructure reduced to a mess.

Moon Arra came on next with Jagdeesh M.R. on the guitar, Madhuri on vocals, Prakash Sontakke and Karthik Mani on percussion and Wilson Kenneth on the bass. The name means three streams. Well known on the Bangalore jazz circuit, the group regaled the audience to a number of their own compositions including, “Levitate” and “Silence”, which Madhuri explained was out of their album “Indian Accent”.

Sudhakar Rao, retired Chief Secretary of the Government of Karnataka and Chairman of the advisory board of the BSM, summed up the evening, “It is the brilliance of musicians such as these which makes Bangalore what it is, and not the roads and the poor infrastructure.”





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