Tag Archives: George Brooks

Jazz is Forever: JazzFest 2013 – A Preview

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Congo Square, a non-profit music society dedicated to the promotion and exposition of jazz, blues and associated music is bringing to Kolkata a musical manna of sorts, as they have for many, many preceding years. JazzFest, in itself grown into a significant titular event in the global jazz circle is bringing artists of international renown to the east Indian city on November 29, 30th and December 1st. In collaboration with numerous art counsels, consulates, art agencies and jazz organisations operating across the world, Congo Square creates an intimate yet expansive setting in which music lovers are able to interact with authentic,  soul-striking music in the midst of kindred souls and tonal and technical virtuosos.

Congo Square’s promise of quality is unprecedented. Having played host to illustrious names such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Kenny Garret, Lisa Henry, Rene Rama Quartet & Oriental Wind, Shakti, Clark Terry, Globe Unity Orchestra, Charles Mingus Dynasty, Louiz Banks, Embryo Larry Corryel, Karin Krog, George Brooks,  Selva Ganesh,  RonuMazumdar, Eric Truffauz, Saskia Laroo, Scott Kinsey, Seamus Blake, Jonas Hellborg, Shawn Lane, Mandu Sarará, Eric Löhre, Warren Walker, Izaline Calister, Frøy Aagre, Dafnis Prieto, Bu JazzO and  Prasanna among others, they are seasoned players in the exquisite event-planning game. As expected, they have accumulated consistent critical acclaim from prestigious sources including esteemed journalistic dailies such as The Telegraph and The Times of India. Thanks to them, this city has seen unforgettable moments like Watermelon Man Herbie Hancock and saxophone god Wayne Shorter, dominate the stage and all the listeners’ minds.

But what’s most striking is the lineup for . Day 1 sees  Carlos Bica and AZUL Trio (Germany) and Milan Svoboda Quartet (Czech Republic). Day 2 features Aakash Mittal Quintet (India/Australia/USA) and Prasanna and the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music Faculty Band (India/USA/Mexico) and finally, Day 3 brings Yuri Honing Wired Paradise (Netherlands) and George Brooks Summit (USA/Germany).

Dazzled yet? If so, you can get tickets priced at Rs. 300 (Daily) and Rs. 750 (Season) here. So, prepare yourself for some of the most memorable evenings in this lifetime.  As Henri Matisse put it, “Jazz is meaning and rhythm.”

Shreya Bose

Shreya Bose is an English grad who is rethinking her dedication to academia and trying to figure out the secret to personal sanity. Currently, writing seems like the only activity that offers both inspiration and catharsis. When free, she overdoses on Yukio Mishima and Kahlua.

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Witnessing the Splendor of Masters

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When a leading newspaper advertised the ‘Splendor of Masters’ show, the first thing that drew attention was the eclectic mix of musicians roped in to perform under the aegis of the performing arts company, Banyan Tree. With my nose wrinkled due to the lack of a bassist in an ensemble that contained flutes, saxophone, tabla, drums and a harp, I warily approached the venue looking for a parking space for the car, and as I quickly found out, parking at the Chowdiah Memorial Hall was a pain in the clutch box.

The warning bell proved to be a useful system to usher in the crowd. The lights dimmed and then brightened up again, whetting the musical appetites that I’m sure the close-packed audience had. Quite the anticlimax, but I was glad the show started on time, and when the curtains drew to reveal a 6-foot high glistening harp that drew oohs and aahs, I was willing to bet the collective thought at that point in time was: we’re in for a treat.

Gwyneth Wentink played three classical pieces in all, and took pains to harp about the harp in an amusing (and not so condescending) way. To say that the performance was soul-stirring would be an understatement; her performance showcased not only her skill, but her understanding of the Indian audience’s ability to appreciate the technicalities of Western classical music.

Right after this, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia (flute), his protégé, and Subhankar Bannerjee (tabla) concluded the first half of the show on a slightly soporific note, not to say that what they played was bad in any way, but a lilt and a skip here and there would have ensured that three of my neighboring audience members did not drift away into sweet slumber. (Or was it intentional?)

A ten-minute breather after this first section saw samosa-lovers proceeding to the kiosk outside while strict crew members ensured that no one sneaked eatables into the auditorium. Kudos to the crew and ushers: who manned the isles during the show, urging people to turn off their cell phones, the eternal curse of gigs, or helping restless babies’ parents and restless parents’ babies to exit the auditorium, for obvious reasons.

George Brooks walked onto stage ‘blowing his own trumpet,’ nodding his head and dancing to his own tune on a tenor sax and dished out a groovy piece with Gino Banks displaying his skill on the drum kit. I thought the bass drum seemed too boomy initially, but as we settled into the ‘groove’, the feeling went away: either due to acclimatization, or because it sounded so bloody good, thanks to Mr. Banks finesse on the drum kit.

The grand finale with all the musicians present was delightful, and what helped was the excellent sound at this venue on this day. The western instrument players displayed their feel for the nuances of Indian classical music, and Panditji was phenomenal in the way he led the troupe. He humored the crowd after an encore, and played a piece each in the Hamsadhvani and Pahadi ragas.

Banyan Tree intends to bring together Indian and International artistes in this manner, and if they pull off a gig such as this, rest assured, I’ll be there.

Sidharth Mohan

Sidharth Mohan is the founder of ‘What’s The Scene’ and a biophysicist. A musician in his own right, he started WTS while still a part of a local band in Bangalore. When not working with gloves and a lab coat, he spends his time travelling, swimming and jamming.

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