Tribute to Jazz legends

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Perfect harmony Members of the Gatt Quintet
Perfect harmony Members of the Gatt Quintet

The Gatt Quintet is all set to perform at the Wilmington Jazz Festival this month

The Gatt Quintet has been invited by the Mayor of Delaware in the U.S. to perform for the Dupont Clifford Brown Jazz Festival between June 15 and June 22 at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington as a tribute to Jazz legends Clifford Brown and Duke Ellington.

The Gatt will be doing a selection of their own arrangements of gospel music as well as two pieces of Duke Ellington’s arrangements for voices — ‘Father forgive’ and ‘Will you be there’. The Gatt will be accompanied by the famous pianist Drew Massicot (with whom they have produced two albums).

This is the 20th year of the Wilmington Jazz festival. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of Clifford’s birth (he was born on October 30, 1930), the State of Delaware will be creating a historic landmark in Wilmington during the festival.

This is the first time an Indian Group has been invited to take part in the Wilmington Jazz festival. None of the members of the Gatt is a professional musician. Three of them are doctors, one is an aerospace engineer and the other a retired accountant.

The Gatt Quintet was formed by a bunch of teenagers in the back streets of Vepery in the late 1960s who just enjoyed singing a cappella music in harmony. Originally started as a quartet, Kalyan Subramaniam, Samuel Grubb, James Davids and Allan Sathyadev soon included Ravi Santosham to establish the Quintet.

African American gospel music (then called Negro spirituals) was the forte of the Gatt. With a wide range of four octaves from the first tenor to the second bass, the Gatt’s all male harmony with syncopation and rhythm made them the first choice in all church programmes, college festivals and cultural evenings especially in the Consulates in the late Sixties and early Seventies.

The unique feature of the Gatt Quintet has been that the same five have been performing unchanged together for 40 years.

The Gatt’s repertoire now has expanded from African American gospel to soul, folk, pop, country and western to even rap music.

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