As 2014 comes to a close, the jazz calendar in Bangalore comes to a climax with a range of outstanding acts at venues such as The B-Flat Bar! The featured bands include a number of local and international artistes, covering a range of styles: straight-ahead jazz, fusion, Indo-jazz, blues-rock and electro-jazz.
Here are some of the groups who delighted jazz fans this year at B-Flat, and I had the good fortune to check out many of them performing live! See also my earlier article, Big Bang Blues, 4th Element, Sean Rolden: A New Generation of Blues and Jazz in India.
Jovol ‘Bam Bam’ Bell
Phenomenally-talented drummer Jovol Bell has played with Stanley Clarke, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Jack Dejohnette, Miles Davis, Joe Sample, and many other jazz greats. The Texan drummer, a Berklee College graduate, was joined by Parker McAllister (bass), Kavyesh Kaviraj (keys), Mark Aranha (guitar) and Vasundhara Vee (vocals). Bell describes his music as ‘New Era,’ which with elements of jazz, gospel, salsa and even hip-hop. The set in Bangalore was an outstanding collaboration, with soaring vocals and scatting by Vasundhara and tight coordination between Jovol and Parker. Vasundhara Vidalur and Adil Manuel are the frontliners of the Indian blues band Adil&Vasundhara, and have released the album Ampersand.
Jyotsna Srikanth http://www.indianviolin.eu/
Indian violinist Dr. Jyotsna Srikanth, now based in London, performed a fusion set of carnatic violin blended with Western folk and classical. She was joined by Shadrach Solomon on keyboards and Manjunath N.S. on drums; the trio covered a wide range of musical territory and drew loud applause for their cross-cultural creativity. Jyotsna has also collaborated with the French Jazz Quartet, flamenco guitarist Eduardo Niebla, Portuguese singer Vitorino and Brazilian bassist Mario Caribe. She has collaborated on movie soundtracks with musical directors from South India such as Hamsalekha and Ilayaraja. Her albums include Call of Bangalore and Life.
Malcolm Braff www.malcolmbraff.net
Swiss pianist Malcolm Braff has a wide range of musical influences from Brazil, Cape Verde, Senegal and India. He has collaborated with djembe player Yaya Ouattara and French jazz trumpeter Erik Truffaz. Braff’s albums include Voltage, Benares, Yay, Methane, Walkabout, Maximal Music, Yele and Live in Lausanne. On his India tour of spiritually-inspired soul-jazz, he was joined by Reggie Washington (bass) and Stéphane Galland (drums).
Divine Raaga http://www.divineraaga.com
Divine Raaga is a Hindi folk-fusion band based out of Bangalore. Their debut album is titled I’m Divine Raaga. Most of the tracks are based on Hindustani ragas. The current lineup includes Buddhabrata Chakravorty (or Buddha, on vocals), Rahul (guitars), Mrinal (drums), Ashish (bass), Prithwin (flute), Ashraf (guitars) and Kishore (keyboards). Formed in 2009, the group’s songs are also about causes, such as cross-border brotherhood, inter-faith unity, and the importance of hope and nature.
Paban Das Baul
Paban Das Baul is a leading proponent of Baul folk music of West Bengal, and has evolved a unique genre of folk-fusion music. The vocalist also plays local percussion and string instruments such as ektara, dubki, dotara and khamak. He was joined by his wife Mimlu Sen (bells, cymbals), Lew Hilt (bass), Satish Sharma (acoustic guitar) and Tanmoy Pan (cajon). Based in France, Paban Das Baul has played across Europe and Asia, and released the albums Real Sugar, Inner Knowledge and State of Bengal. Baul music praises the divine love, and draws from a range of traditions including Tantrism and Sufism. Two musicians from the fusion band Aghor opened the evening’s performance: Jataveda Banerjee (singer-songwriter) and Nikhmal Gartuala (guitarist-composer from Kathmandu).
Chandbibi and the Waste Candidates
Bangalore-based band Chandbibi and the Waste Candidates released their debut album Tidy Funk at B-Flat in October. They blend jazz, electronica, progressive rock, Latin and Carnatic music. The lineup consists of Mana Dhanraj (vocals), Sidhant Jain (guitar), Kavita Sarna (bass) and Navneet Rao (drums). The musicians met at the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music. The tracks What Have We Become? and Moonlight drew loud applause at their B-Flat performance, and the band also played at The Humming Tree.
Indian Blue http://indianblue.org
Indian Blue is a talented fusion band founded by Shiraz Ali Khan on sarod, with a phenomenal family tradition in Indian classical music as great grandson of legendary Acharya Baba Allauddin Khan, grandson of late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, and son of late Dhyanesh Khan. He began experimenting with other sounds as well, and founded the fusion band, Indian Blue, in 2002. He is accompanied by Dishari Chakraborty (santoor), Arindam Bhattacharya (Indian vocals), Debjeet Ghosh (English vocals), Santanu Borah (rhythm guitar), Ronodeep Bose (lead guitar), Avijit Sarkar (drums), Ranjan De (tabla) and Shovon Mukherjee (bass). The haunting sound of the sarod coupled with Indian vocals and Western instruments makes for a marked contrast as well as smooth blend.
Parvaaz was founded in 2010 by Khalid Ahmed (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Kashif Iqbal (electric guitar) from Kashmir, and is based in Bangalore. They are accompanied by Sachin Banandur (drums) and Fidel D’souza (bass), and have performed their blend of blues and rock along with lyrics in Hindi, Urdu and Kashmiri in festivals across India. The youthful band’s debut CD, Baran, is named after the Persian word for rain, and is a soul-searching album about seeking truth in an increasingly materialistic and greedy world. In a sign of the times, the album was entirely crowdfunded with the help of 96 contributors. Their set in Bangalore was their last one of the year, and climaxed with the superbly-textured tracks Colour White and Roz Roz featuring Khalid’s soaring vocals and a superb bass solo by Fidel.
Other Indian blues bands that have performed at B-Flat include Hoodoo Gas, whose lineup has included Ananth Menon (lead guitar and vocals), Snehal Pinto (bass), Deepak Raghu (drums) and Vasudev Prabhu (harmonica). Mumbai-based Kabir Café also played to a full-house, with a blend of folk, rock and the philosophy of mystic poet and saint Kabir. The band is founded by Neeraj Arya (vocals, guitar), Raman Iyer (mandolin), Mukund Ramaswamy (violin) and Viren Solanki (drums).
Folk-rock was also showcased in B-Flat by the band Lagori, named after a popular South Indian street game based on striking a pile of seven stones. Their urban sound combines Indian classical melodies with rock music. The lineup includes Tejas Shankar (vocals), Geeth Vaz (guitar), Edward Rasquinha (guitar), Shalini Mohan (bass) and Vinyl Kumar (drums).
B-Flat’s programming on Wednesdays has featured DJ Unnayanaa (Prashanth Pallemoni) who blends Afro, funk, soul, electronic and experimental sounds. We look forward to another terrific lineup of bands at B-Flat and other Bangalore venues in 2015 already!
Written by Madanmohan Rao
Editor & DJ, World Music and Jazz; Bangalore
Global Correspondent for Jazzuality.com