Why is jazz like pavakkai?

Singer Radha Thomas. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Not everyone likes ‘pavakkai' (bitter gourd). Most definitely not at first bite. It's far too unpleasant. But if you can be persuaded into Mouthful No. 2 — perhaps 3 and 4 — you could become a convert. And on rare occasions, even an evangelist. Jazz is a little like that. Takes getting used to.

The chords aren't simple, the melodies aren't obvious and the rhythms aren't intended for foot-tapping. Consequently, the musically weak-hearted get turned off.

It takes a dedicated masochist to love jazz. Someone like me. A pervert who can't get enough of pavakkai or jazz.

My singing career began years ago on Brigade Road, at a small Chinese Restaurant called Chin Lung. People like Prem Koshy, Prasad Bidappa, Ramjee Chandran other leading lights tell me they lined the streets outside St. Patricks Complex to listen to me sing since they couldn't afford the Chow Mein. I take that with a drop of soy sauce.

Some of my admirers are still around so I am hoping that they (and you) will come to the Bengaluru Habba this month. I will be singing a lot of jazz along with Sanjay Divecha, Karl Peters and Adrian D'Souza. They are forgiven for being from Mumbai because they play so beautifully. Maybe rousing applause and a standing ovation or two at UB City may persuade them to move permanently to Bangalore where we can have many more such jazz nights.

The writer performed in New York for 20 years, the home of jazz, with musicians such as John Scofield, Randy Brecker and Michael Brecker, among others.

She trained with Kumar Gandharva in Delhi and subsequently with Ustad Farid Ud Din Dagar in the Drupad style. Her favourite genre of music is jazz which she often combines with Indian classical music. She now lives in Bangalore.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 8:52:16 AM |

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