Tag Archives: Naveen Kumar

Matt Littlewood at Plantation House, Bangalore

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Justin Jaideep Xavier

Justin Jaideep Xavier is an Automotive Design Engineer, Metal Head, Bullet, Beer & Old Monk Enthusiast, Dog Lover and Photographer. When he's not frequenting the regular watering holes over weekends he can be found shooting gigs and concerts in and around namma Bengaluru! You can check out more of his work on his website: www.JustinJaideep.in

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Mali’s ‘Deceptive’ launch at Someplace Else, Kolkata

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Kolkata has a reputation of welcoming out-station musicians of all creed and color with open arms, especially if they belong to the “established” category.

But what if you aren’t an established musician? What if you are a young female artiste who is completely unknown to the average Kolkata music lover? What if you, the artiste, decides to not only perform in Kolkata for the first time, but also launch your album in this city as well? Does the city embrace you or reject your musical efforts?

Mali's 'Deceptive' launch at Someplace Else, Kolkata

These and many other questions came to mind when the promos for Mali’s debut performance at Someplace Else started filtering through. For those of you who may not know, Mali (Maalavika Manoj) is a Chennai-based lass who came to prominence in the local scene as the vocalist of the band Bass-In Bridge. With the demise of the band Mali decided to go solo and fulfill her ambition of becoming a full-time singer/songwriter. After the success of her recently launched debut album Deceptive in the Chennai circuit, she probably decided it was time to reach out to the rest of the country – and rightly so, since no new artiste can ever hope to sustain herself or grow artistically just by remaining encamped within her own local comfort zone. Picking Kolkata for her first ever out-station gig was a brave decision, especially when hardly anyone in the city had ever heard of her, much less heard her sing.

Mali's 'Deceptive' launch at Someplace Else, Kolkata

In the day and age where most singers contort and distort their vocals to sound all “new-age” it is rare to hear a vocalist who keeps it fresh and simple and allows just the melody in her vocals to speak to you. Mali’s approach to singing however is just that, and her refreshing vocal style made it easy for her to win over the Friday night Someplace Else crowd on the 19th of July, . With a set-list that was dominated by popular covers the young artiste sang her heart out to the crowd – most of who were lolling around waiting for their weekly Friday night dose of Hip Pocket. And truth be told, during the initial stages of her gig the sparse crowd wasn’t really paying much attention – being an unknown factor possibly left her at a disadvantage. However this young artiste did not lose heart, and with the able assistance of her band – Vivin Kuruvilla on keyboards, Naveen Kumar on guitar and Allwyn Jeya Paul on drums – Mali’s beautiful voice eventually won over everyone in attendance. Her renditions of ‘Don’t Know Why’, ‘Fever’, ‘Losing My Religion’, ‘Another Day In Paradise’, ‘Master Blaster’ and ‘Waterloo’ allowed her to demonstrate her full vocal range and she even had a few Spanish and French covers in her repertoire: ‘Mas Que Nada’, ‘Viens Jusqu’a Moi’ and ‘Besame Mucho’. But it was her performance of The Corrs song ‘Runaway’ which bowled the crowd over, and it was amazing to hear her sounding so much like Andrea Corr.

Mali's 'Deceptive' launch at Someplace Else, Kolkata

Mali’s vocal style is a throwback to the age of the Park Street crooners of the swinging 60s and 70s. And so it was fitting to see Kolkata’s original “didi” Usha Uthup come down to Someplace Else and lend her support to the young singer. In fact not only did she give her stamp of approval to Mali’s vocal efforts, but she also got up on stage and belted ‘Skyfall’, her powerful vocals arresting everyone inside the pub – undoubtedly one of the highlights of the evening.

Mali brought the curtain down on her debut Kolkata performance by singing a few lines from ‘This One’s For You’ and ‘Wannabe’ – two songs from her debut album. As this gig was also doubling up as an album launch, it actually would have made sense for her to have highlighted more songs from her album rather than to lay emphasis on her long list of covers. Performing her originals would have also helped her to showcase her songwriting talent to the Kolkata crowd as well – something which she might want to keep in mind for future gigs.

Mali's 'Deceptive' launch at Someplace Else, Kolkata

And so we come back to the questions asked at the beginning of this review – was Kolkata capable of embracing a young female artiste from Chennai, still to-be-established and a veritable unknown to the local Kolkata crowd? Undoubtedly, yes. Was her album launch the success she was hoping it to be? Honestly, no. Getting herself known to the Kolkata public was a huge task in itself, and the added burden of promoting her album in this city was always going to be a tough task. But having said that, achieving one out of two is a fair achievement and it undoubtedly lays a positive platform for her future endeavors in the City of Joy, where she can henceforth be guaranteed a warm welcome from the music lovers of this city.

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The Radha Thomas Jazz Ensemble LIVE at Toit

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Radha Thomas Emsemble

WOW! was the first word that came to my mind when I walked past the entrance. The place looks huge, with seating arranged on three levels, with the stage set at the middle level. I noticed that the listening experience with respect to volume and quality differed over various areas of the restaurant. But I guess this provides customers with varying options on whether you want to get more involved with the band, or sit in a relatively peaceful place with the music playing in the background. I would suggest placing oneself either on the left of the stage on the first floor or the right side of the second floor, as close to the railing as possible for the best listening experience.

“T-O-I-T, how do you pronounce it?” we asked the owner. “It’s Toit!” (rhyming with Detroit), he replied, “Not ‘twa’ (like the French) or ‘To it’ or anything else. When we were younger, if something was good, it was ‘tight’; if a girl was good looking, she was ‘tight’. Also, in the local slang, when someone is drunk, that person is said to be tight”. And that is exactly what Toit is all about – a slightly and deliberately mispronounced version of the word tight.

A band playing a complete jazz set at a restaurant is indeed a rarity in Bangalore, unless of course it is part of a jazz festival or perhaps one of those upscale snooty places frequented and infested by the supposedly high-class junta. If I were to describe the musical experience of the evening in one word, that word would be ‘smooth’. Most jazz acts that I have seen usually throw in quite a few old English classics and pass it off as Jazz, but that was not the case with this band. Ramjee Chandran was a pleasure to listen to, belting out fine solos and resounding chords on his Epiphone hollow-body semi-acoustic. Naveen Kumar kept the groove going and wowed the audience with an occasional bass solo. Matt Littlewood showed finesse on the saxophone, switching between the tenor and soprano sax as the track demanded. Each trill on the lows of the tenor and every one of the altissimo notes he hit was spot-on making it all a true jazz affair. Amit Mirchandani displayed amazing control on the drums – he made them sound as prominent as necessary during the drum solo spots and at times, as soft as a whisper. Aman Mahajan blended in really well on the keys; his mastery over the notes as well as his ability to fill up the gaps was mesmerizing! Radha’s vocals was simply superb; there was a pleasant huskiness about her voice that went well with the overall feel.

The band kicked off the evening with a couple of old jazz standards, and went on to play a jumpy, bossa-nova number.  The last track of the first set ended with the band’s take on the famous Duke Ellington track ‘Caravan’ – the twist was that it was a lyrical version, and it started off with a jumpy, gypsy-esque aalaap which gave it that special Indianized touch. The band rendered a mellower version of ‘Is you is or is you aint my baby’ which was nice, but I would have preferred a slightly sped-up, energetic version. Listening to the blues ballad ‘Ain’t got nothing but the blues’ was sheer pleasure. Karan Joseph made a guest appearance on the keys for the song, and received a hearty round of applause from the audience. My personal favorite, however, for the night was ‘Let’s do it’. As the evening progressed, the number of jazz lovers in the audience seemed to have more than doubled. The performance ended with a lyrical version of Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take 5′ incorporating solos from every member of the band. The drummer blew everyone’s mind away with a kickass drum solo.

A special mention must go to the venue for accentuating the overall feel of the event. With a snazzy atmosphere, moderately priced food and drinks (which included lip-smacking Chicken Piccata and superb mocktails) and friendly staff, this place is definitely something that musicians and music lovers can look forward to frequent in the near future. To sum it all up, the evening was Toit!

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