Traffic Jam at Tao Terraces, Bangalore

On an especially cloud-covered Sunday evening, we waited for Traffic Jam to start their show. The venue was Tao Terraces at 1MG Mall in Bangalore – an open space sheathed by nothing but the sky, illuminated mostly by the moon.

As the band took the stage, they were greeted with lazy, but not unwelcome smiles. They started off with a light-hearted number titled ‘All That Jazz’. Some of you may remember it from the musical – Chicago. Traffic Jam’s adaptation was brilliantly refitted, with a no-frills vibe about it. The original flavor of the song wasn’t diluted thanks to the accompanying instruments, and one could hardly feel the lack of the trumpet, thanks to Marcus Daniel’s dexterous fingers, rasping away at the piano keys. Some were tapping their feet, some were bobbing their heads, and soon as the first song was over, they had everyone’s attention. There was applause, promptly followed by the next song – ‘What You Got’ – an original composition. Jessica Moorwood laughingly added that she probably shouldn’t have mentioned that. I, for one, was glad she did!

Traffic Jam at Tao Terraces, Bangalore

One of my favourite things about the gig was the neatness of it all. There was no 30-minute soundcheck while the audience waited, there was no Oscars-inspired speech between songs, and the conduct of the band engaged everyone without egregiousness. Their demeanour suited the ambience and it was almost like the music was a natural extension of the pale starlight and the wind.

Soon enough, Jessica announced that the song they were about to play had danceable tunes, if any couples were interested in that sort of thing. ‘A Day in the Life of a Fool’(aka ‘Black Orpheus’ aka ‘Mahna de Carnaval’) was playing. Traffic Jam’s take on the song wasn’t too mellow and it lasted a while longer than the original. The tempo was perfect thanks to Abhilash EK’s powerful subtlety with the drums. Breaks between the vocals and instrumental sections were placed at adequate lengths. The guitar solo rendered by Abhishek Prakash was followed by Marcus’s piano, in immediate succession. Sadly, nobody was dancing to this piece of classical legend and they would have had a long dance too!

Traffic Jam at Tao Terraces, Bangalore

This was remedied by their next song – another original titled ‘Lost Together’. Jessica dedicated it to her husband saying that it was written by him. It was a dreamy track with a tune and words that remind you of two lovers drifting into a world they made, unbeknownst to anyone else. Sure enough, there were couples dancing to this one. It’s the sort of song you’d associate with the phrase “Rainbows and Unicorns”, if you, like me, spend far too much time on the Internet for lack of other things to do!

The highlight of my evening was when I discovered to my pleasant surprise that their set list included Duke Ellington and Bob Russell’s ‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’.Traffic Jam’s rendition was upbeat, and if you wouldn’t pay attention to the lyrics, you’d hardly feel the shreds of sadness mixed with indifference. It signified age, but not in years. It signified youth, but not in words. An honest, straightforward cover that did no disservice to the original.

Traffic Jam at Tao Terraces, Bangalore

Keeping up with the deceptive cheerfulness, they played their next song – ‘Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone’. I don’t know how Traffic Jam could pull off Duke Ellington and Bill Withers while making it seem effortless, but they did it. We’ve all heard several versions of this song and any jazz enthusiast would not resist or tire of new forms of its expression. Jessica’s vocals on this one would warrant even Eva Cassidy’s attention. Jefferson nuanced the performance in a wonderful way with his bass never dipping into the background. The soul of it all, however,was Abhishek’s solo, which was vivid and heartfelt. Nobody wanted the song to end, but end it did. Thankfully, it was only half their set time that was over.

After a well-deserved break, they returned with the instrumental– ‘Take 5’. “That’s my ringtone!” said the excited voice of my friend and colleague Rohan as he could barely stop himself from shaking a leg, much like most people at the venue.

Traffic Jam at Tao Terraces, Bangalore

The rest of their set included ‘Autumn Leaves’, ‘Son Of A Preacher Man’, ‘All Of Me’, and other songs. My [other] friend and colleague – Dev, remarked sometime during one of their songs that you can’t play the blues or jazz unless you really loved music. I nodded in agreement. It was quite telling of Traffic Jam then, that they packed a group of songs with their own flavour and kept adding on to it, without taking anything away.

Swati Nair

Swati is a writer/sub-editor for What'sTheScene. She enjoys most kinds of music and spends all of her time scouting the Internet and re-watching Star Trek and Swat Kats.


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