BAND Mynta has the right to call themselves a world music band, with a percussionist from India, a flautist from America, a violinist from Cuba, Swedish guitarist, and more
E very artiste that comes to India from across the seas has cookie-cutter answers about the awe-inspiring culture, rich colours and varied heritage of our country. Mynta was no different, yet I would suggest that you don't dismiss it as another practised answer they have learned by rote.
“We were just a regular jazz band and we met a few Indian musicians on a trip to Bombay and it was love at first sight. It was a new experience for us, with the mridangam, tabla and other Indian percussion instruments,” said Christian Paulin who has been the band leader since the beginning in 1979. The band was in the city for a performance and this was their sixth time in the country.
The line up of the band includes Santiago Jimenez on violin, Dallas Smith on flute, Christian Paulin on bass, Max Ahman on guitar and Sebastian Printz-Werner on percussion.
That might have been the turning point, when I was convinced they mean what they say about India, also the fact that their line up includes Fazal Qureshi, brother of Zakir Hussain who plays the tabla for them. Mynta promote a brand of music they have dubbed “world music”, another term that is used loosely to categorise anything that is not mainstream. But with percussionist from India, a flautist from America, violinist from Cuba, Swedish guitarist, they have earned the right to be makers of world music.
Their music is predominantly instrumental but they have one guest vocalist, a Swedish lady who sings in the style of the Swedish goat-herders. “Our music is a combination of so many different sounds, we have a little blues and a little Latin, Indian classical with a bansuri solo and the tabla,” says Dallas who plays the flute, clarinet, soprano saxophone and the Indian bansuri.
“Meetings In India” is the band's latest album. “The name of the album comes from the mutual love we all share for the country and it has evolved out of our current repertoire,” says Christian, “People think the band sounds Indian and although we are appreciated in every country that we play, in India people understand our music. They understand the concepts of raga and taala.”
Considering the band has members from different parts of the world and they have their own independent careers besides being a part of Mynta, the men have successfully managed to overcome distances and make their music. “We bring in new music and it all happens through email. We work together as a team to put it together,” says Christian.
The band had recently recorded for a webcast, “That was different, because although you are performing for a camera, there are thousands of people watching you,” says Dallas. The band has only one plan in mind at present, and that is to go on for the next 10 years.
CATHERINE RHEA ROY