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Singing the blues

SOHINI CHAKRAVORTY
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Passing by The American jazz band Paul Beaudry and Pathways shares its love for Indian music and influence of World music

Jazz trio Beneett Paster, Paul Beaudry and Tim Armacost Photo: Nagara Gopal
Jazz trio Beneett Paster, Paul Beaudry and Tim Armacost Photo: Nagara Gopal

A musical tradition that originated from the vibrant beats of African music and the harmony of European music, jazz is a musical genre that has evolved enormously soaking in every bit of the World music with each passing era. An advocate of Latin American jazz with their music imbued with long notes of the Blues, New York-based group Paul Beaudry and Pathways recently performed in the city as a part of its tour ‘Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad.' The event was organised in association with the US Consulate General, Hyderabad.

“We formed the group in 2008. We have great musical interaction and we understand the traditions of jazz blues and different forms of Latin funk. With the foundation of traditional jazz blues we divert and explore different forms of music. Each member is a composer and as a band we gel together,” says Paul Beaudry who is on the bass and vocals. Tim Armacost is on the tenor saxophone and alto flute, Tony Jefferson on drums and vocals and Bennett Paster on the piano and keyboards. The band specialises in creating a steady confluence of contemporary jazz on old globally known songs like Frere Jacques (Brother John).

“The history of jazz goes back to Africa where it originated from. People there composed music which became a means of communication and it then spread to Europe, the Caribbean Islands and Northern America. Jazz has no boundaries and we believe in the philosophy of interaction through music with our audience,” says Paul. Bennett explains that when they are performing in different countries they experiment and customise their music so that the audience can relate to it.

“It doesn't make sense if we play the songs from the musical theatres popular in US in Kyrgyzstan,” he says.

Tim Armacost who has spent considerable time in India studying Indian classical music and is familiar with the works of Ustad Alla Rakha Khan, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia says that American jazz is already incorporating Indian classic music.

“Indian musician are very advanced and we intend to collaborate with an Indian music and dance group in the future,” explains Paul.

Inspired from popular jazz artists Ray Brown, Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal, the band is full of stories after touring countries like Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Bangladesh before they came to India.

Sharing one of experiences in Suriname, Bennett says, “About 12 to 14 members of the All Nations Drum Ensemble had come to perform for us and it was fascinating to hear them play. They had African, Caribbean, French style of drumming, even ethnic groups like the Maroons were playing. Each had preserved their cultural and musical identity yet the music was completely in sync. It was a wonderful experience jamming with them.”

They also interacted with students and taught them music during their tour.

“We came across a group of boys in Honduras playing the trumpet. All of them were amateur players and we stopped by and taught them a Duke Ellington song. It felt good that we left a taste of jazz with them,” says Tim.

“We definitely want to work on the music of Central Asia and India and follow the Silk Route,” says Paul.

SOHINI CHAKRAVORTY

“Indian musician are very advance and we intend to collaborate with an Indian music and dance group in the future”

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