Tag Archives: Black Orpheus

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.

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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.


The Family Cheese at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore


An eclectic mix of almost every genre imaginable, The Family Cheese was an interesting and enjoyable start to the weekend. At Bflat on Friday night, they played Psychedelic Rock, Progressive Rock, Blues, Funk, Gangsta’ Rap, Electronica and Brazilian Bossa nova! They even let loose a riveting Pink Floyd cover!

We entered the venue just as the band was setting up. There was some classic jazz on the speakers which instantly induced a positive vibe. As the drums were being set up, Homi started playing the groove of the background track flawlessly. This was a small initial dose of the band’s technical prowess. They soon progressed into a sound check which was a jazzy jam. Each member fed off the others’ energy and it was clear that they were proficient and capable.

The band consists of Apurv Frank Vedantam “Lala” Isaac on Lead guitars and Vocals, Homi Rustamji on Bass and Yohan Marshall on Drums and Vocals. They are all students of the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music, Chennai. They introduced themselves (and each other) with loads of jokes and teasing. It was obvious that their egos aren’t as immense as their musical training. Also, after every song, Yohan kept repeating the line “We are the Family Cheese and we absolutely love that breakfast!“, which was funny at first but seemed a little strange after a few songs.

They then began their set with an original which gave off slight alternative rock vibes. Lala proved himself to be a competent singer with Yohan effectively backing him up. The solo was a tad too reminiscent of ‘Comfortably Numb‘ and Lala’s delay-heavy guitar tone embellished this similarity. At the end of the song, Yohan quipped sarcastically that the energy in the crowd was too much to take, once again dishing out their brand of humour.

They then started playing a Brazilian bossa nova tune ‘Black Orpheus‘ and we were left speechless for a minute. It did look like things were going to get serious when Yohan pulled out brushes and soft sticks. Their ability to play jazz was really impressive. The phrasings were sublime and really well constructed. Homi played his six string bass wonderfully and perfectly complemented the guitar. The walking bassline seemed to jog in the middle and eventually even ran! Yohan played a very intense drum solo in the middle of the song and blew the crowd’s mind. Along with the intense precision and technicality, one could also hear a lot of konokkal within his phrasings. He is an insanely talented individual and a force to be reckoned with on the drums.

They then played an original titled ‘Stories of the places you’ve never been‘ which was a progressive rock/metal song. Lala shone through on lead guitar. The crowd lapped up his licks and solos. Lala seems to be most at home with progressive rock/metal and played face melting solos and demented arpeggios effortlessly.

The band then went into total ‘mess around’ mode with Yohan leading their whimsical experimentation for the night, on a ‘Sit on your bum groove‘, as Homi described it. The playfulness began with Yohan singing ‘Toothpaste baby’ or ‘Two-piece baby’ over some blues. The band then started a rap song with Yohan rapping in Gujarati about how his mom wouldn’t let him drink daaru or bring chokris into his room! Lala also joined in and they covered Afroman’s ‘Colt 45′ with Yohan using his cymbal hits to censor obscenities. It was clear that they wanted to have as much fun on stage as they possibly could.

They then played an original called ‘UNIR’ which was again a progressive number. This was followed by a heavy cover of the blues classic ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ with Yohan on vocals. They played a decent rendition of the song. It was Lala’s birthday the next day and the band got one of their friends to smear cake on his face during the middle of the song. This was another example of how open and easy-going the band was. They had already impressed the crowd with their technicality and now proceeded to have as much fun as possible.

They then launched into a medley of famous tunes like the Simpsons and Mario theme songs, followed by some very off-time signature jams. Next up, ‘Blue and pissed off’ was an original blues song but played in a very progressive and experimental light. The highlight of the song was Homi’s bass solo. By now Lala was tired of the cake on his face and took a break to clean himself up. Homi and Yohan launched into an electronic drum & bass jam which was a little too experimental and didn’t really go down too well with the crowd.

Lala returned and the band played one of their best known originals ‘The Cheese’ which Yohan proclaimed was “Homi’s song”. Why it was called that was obvious the second the riff started. Homi played tapping riffs with both fingers and created a complex interplay with the guitar on a 9/8 time signature. There were complex interludes and psychedelic portions with myriad effects which felt and sounded like an acid trip.

The band ended their set with a rendition of Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’. The dual vocals of Yohan and Lala more than did justice to this famous albeit overplayed classic. Lala’s sometimes overly heavy and Gilmour inspired tone and style seemed to finally get some relevance in the solo. He was totally in control and walked out into the crowd and even got a member of the audience to pluck his guitar for him.

Overall, the evening was very entertaining. It was heartening to see talented musicians having so much fun on stage. The Family Cheese is a funny quirky band, technically proficient and easy going. Although their jokes and banter were humorous, it did get a tad excessive towards the end, but considering the vibe of the place and the fact that they had mainly their friends and family present, it can be understood. The band did spark our interest and it would be interesting to see what they can do with a bigger audience and a more structured setlist.

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Abhishek Prakash

Abhishek Prakash is a Bangalore based guitarist and is a third of local act Groove Chutney. He loves jazz, street food, Woody Allen movies and often pretends to be a writer.


Amit Heri At Herbs and Spice, Bangalore





Saturday night in Bangalore. Overcast and a little moody. Brisk biting wind outside. No better place to be than Herbs and Spice for an evening of jazz with Amit Heri. Since it was a solo perfomance, it was interesting to see songs being built layer upon layer with his loop station. The setting was perfect. Amit’s light strains of whole tone scales and modal improvisations were placed and precise, between humble containment and other times spilling over the ambient table clatter.

His set list contained smart jazz classics like ‘Black Orpheus’, ‘Canteloupe Island’ and ‘Spain’. I personally loved his rendition of ‘A Day In The Life of a Fool’. Melancholic and soulful,  his Godin Multiac has a tone that is outworldly and is a masterpiece of craftmanship. Nylon strings on a semi acoustic body that allows for synth access is a guitar worthy of only the noblest fingers. Thats not to say his other guitar, the Gibson ES 355, is any less. Everyone from BB King to Alex Lifeson of Rush has this model as their trademark.

The Digitech Jamman Loopstation is a great tool to make some improv music sound very full and complete onstage. He started one number with a well metered bass+chord sequence, looped that, added a sustained arpeggio on alternate bars, then chopped a chord drenched in wah, and a finally added a ‘string pat’ drum beat. After this layering he moved into a bluesy phrased motif a la John Scofield and lauched into a funk-jazz solo with a beautifully synced finish killing the loop. His later tracks segued jazz-prog with carnatic, sliding some open chord pattern. The last track was a display of his brilliance with some skilled shredding.

Amit looked content throughout the show and his music flowed out effortlessly, peaking against the soft lighting, earthy colors and added various flavors to the mood throughout the evening. Elegant, smooth, and impactful, Amit truly is one of the great living masters of the guitar.

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Fidel Dsouza

Fidel Dsouza is a Journalist/Editor at WTS