Infusion: To incorporate a thought or process. Alliance Francaise was the place to be on Friday night if you felt like some smooth jazz. The lineup for the night was Frijo Francis on Piano, Dominic Yesudas on Bass and Victor Francis on the Drums. I had heard only the best reviews about the band and was looking forward to watching them live.
Since I arrived a bit late, (unfashionably) I walked right into the jazz standard ‘Summertime’. It started off with a funk drum beat leading right into the song motif headed by Frijo. The first thing that struck me was the actual ‘sound’ they had – the perfect feel for swinging jazz with the dynamic modulations. After a really crazy piano solo, they switched lanes to move into a jazz/swing beat and recovered the funk for the ending.
Up next was ‘Softly, As In a Morning Sunrise’, another classic. I have to mention that Dominic works with an acoustic upright bass. It’s a beast just to handle, but the man toys with it with majestic ease. He’s got those smooth bass lines that lay the groove down hard! If you’ve heard some Miles Davis or John Coltrane, you will know that the double bass has an identity of its own. Frijo dropped out on the piano; Victor kept to the hi-hats and let the bass solo lead the way.
The band didn’t really chat or converse with the crowd between songs, so the songs were flowing fast and thick. I assume the next track was an original; Dominic switched to the electric bass, and after a catchy intro, a neat little bridge section opened the canvas to a wild wicked frenzy with Frijo picking up his Yamaha Keytar. The man has fingers that move like precise metal type bars, leaving in its wake, hundreds of notes on the piano that pant out of breath in exhaustion.
Another original track followed, very edgy and dissonant. It brought on another mood to experiment with, which is pretty much how they function on stage – with not a rigid form but an experiment with varied styles, individual brilliance and synchronized hits. There is a bare structure that exists, a simple concept that is steadily built upon, played with, teased and made richer.
Victor Francis is Calmness and Peace personified -even in the midst of thunderous drum rolls and tricky beat syncopation. A true veteran of the beat, he is a pleasure to watch for learning the nuances of jazz drumming.
Up next, was a jazz staple out of which these guys seemed to make an awesome salad! Horn Sections weren’t necessary; Frijo simply turns them into trills on the higher register. A funky ‘Watermelon Man’ in a neat tight package. After a couple of cycles on the motif, we headed down into another Keytar frenzy. There were a lot of ‘Guitarist wank squeals’ on his Keytar and electro-synth tones that whipped up a storm onstage.
After a massive applause, the audience yelled out for an encore. The boys returned to stage with ‘Take 5′. All in all, the band leaves a lasting impression of a Jazz band that delivers a powerful show of innovative renditions and strong original material.
We caught up with Sandeep Mukherjee of the band after the show who gave us some insight into the creative process of the band. He said that the improvisations arise from the unmatchable chemistry they share as a band. He also added that it is when music passes from instrumentalist to instrumentalist that they add their twist to it and it turns out into something more interesting than what they begin with. Sandeep also mentioned plans to help musicians with establishing an Academy to teach the finer aspects of Jazz.