Music

From Big Apple to Bengaluru

Blending tradition with the modern Shubh Saran wants to make his Indian and American dreams one Lauren Desberg  

The most exciting part about being a musician for Shubh Saran is “That music is rarely created in a vacuum. You’re always interacting with people and the bonds you form with listeners and fellow musicians are what make music complete.”

The New York-based, Indian guitarist and composer is a firm believer in making inclusive music given the fact that he grew up in six different countries and thus, has a musical career that is tuned by a range of influences and styles. Ahead of his concert in Bengaluru with his seven-piece band, The New York Jazz Septet, as part of a multi-city tour, the musician talks about the homecoming, his journey and what’s in store for music lovers.

He confides that playing with his band in Bengaluru and bFlat is a surreal feeling. “All the Indian independent bands that I love are always travelling to Bengaluru to perform; so to do this myself is exciting. Going on tour to India with my band is also a dream come true. It is something I’ve been planning and dreaming of for years. My Indian and American music lives have always been two separate things. Thanks to this tour, I’ll finally be able to merge these two worlds.”

An alumnus of the Berklee College of Music, Shubh has collaborated with several artistes and dabbles extensively in fusing modern jazz, neo-soul, and rock with classical and contemporary Indian music. Along with Shubh Saran on guitar will be Mark Minoogian (bass), Angelo Spampinato and Joshua Bailey (drums), Brian Plautz and Jared Yee (saxophones) and Christian Li (keys/piano) who collectively form The New York Jazz Septet.

While they are in India, the band will not only be performing almost every night but also conduct workshops as well hold a live video recording session, informs Shubh. “The recording session will feature five artistes from Delhi and my band will arrange and perform their songs. The songs will then be released online after the tour.”

For the tour, Shubh says they will be performing his original music which is a blend of modern jazz, neo-soul, and rock with classical and contemporary Indian music. “Most of the songs will be from my album Hmayra, which I released last year, apart from a few older songs from my EP A Room With a View and one new unrecorded song.”

At the end of his tour, Shubh hopes to leave India having created a bigger audience for the music he makes. “Thanks to our shows in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi, we’ll be able to reach more people. Traveling between New York and India would be my ideal career in the future and hopefully this is where it all begins.”

Dwelling deeper on his Indian roots, Shubh says he has learnt an enormous amount of what it means to be a musician from his friends in India. “The history of India’s music is so rich and ingrained in everything that it’s hard not to be affected by it. What I admire most about musicians in India is their tenacity to rise above a lot of the stigma that is still associated with pursuing careers in music. Every time I’m here I’m filled with a renewed sense of creativity and inspiration. At times, there does tend to be a clash between the independent music scene and Bollywood music but I feel it’s only a matter of time before the two worlds fully collide. As movies diversify, directors and audiences will want music that is diversified as well.”

On how the New York Jazz Septet came together, Shubh says it has gone through several iterations and featured some absolutely incredible musicians. “I’ve now found a core group of people who I click with and are able to add more life to my songs than I could have ever imagined. Most of us went to the Berklee College of Music at different times but ended up meeting and playing together in the local New York music circuit.”

His journey in music, he says, has been kind to him so far. “It’s always tough to be an artiste because you are facing a lot of societal pressures but the excitement in doing what gives you purpose makes up for that all. I started very untrained and unsure of what I was doing, but over time with education and study I’ve been able to grasp new and exciting concepts I never thought I would have been able to. I hope I continue learning and growing as I go on.”

Looking ahead, Shubh says he would love to “Diversify and write for films, along with making my own music.”

Check out The New York Jazz Septet live at bFlat, Indiranagar, on February 6 from 9 pm onwards. Tickets on BookMyShow and venue. 25278361

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 9:30:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/from-big-apple-to-bengaluru/article22657992.ece

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