What’s common between jazz and Carnatic?


Their fluidity, says Ranjit Barot, ahead of the Uncommon trio’s first performance

For the past couple of days, Mumbai-based drummer Ranjit Barot has been alternating between rehearsing and treating his band members: Etienne Mbappe and Christophe Cravero, to local cuisines. The latter two have flown down from France for their trio, Uncommon’s first performance in Chennai.

“The idea behind starting this band was to bring together a unique set of musicians that have many layers to their musical personalities,” says Ranjit, who has also been the musical director for AR Rahman’s live shows. Though he officially started the band with Etienne and Christophe this January, the concept has been a few years in the making. At the show, Ranjit will be on the drums, and Etienne on the bass, but both will be singing. Cristophe will play the violin and keys.

Uncommon’s performance will “have traces of jazz, rock, pop, funk… it varies unpredictably as the songs evolve,” he says, adding that there will also be electronic elements. Expect a fast-paced show, with musicians reacting and playing off each other immediately. Most of the compositions are Ranjit’s, a couple by Etienne, and one by Christophe. Etienne will also be doing a cover of one of Pharoah Sanders’ ballads. “But our DNA is over all the songs. It’s a collaborative effort,” he says.

While Etienne and Ranjit have known each other for nine years, both part of John McLaughlin’s band, 4th Dimension, the three of them have been practising together only for two days. “And that’s enough! The framework is already done individually, the rest is just about how it fits between the three of us.”

This evolution of the music is especially important given that their genre is primarily jazz. “Jazz is a genre with improvisation at its heart, so you can have a lot of dialogue. Unlike a pop or rock show, where the framework is cemented. Jazz, like Carnatic, is fluid: the same piece can sound different on different days,” he says.

Uncommon’s performance will be on March 14, from 7 pm, at Museum Theatre. Tickets are available on

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 8:35:46 AM |

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