World Jazz Festival leads to Perfect Amalgamation
Mumbai receives no respite from musical concerts, and thank goodness for that! Last month saw three leading events, the first one being the Mahindra Blues Festival on February 8 and 9 at the Mehboob Studios [a review of which was posted on 15.02.20], followed by the self-explanatory World Jazz Festival on February 23 and 24 at the St. Andrew’s auditorium, and by “contemporary music concert” Perfect Amalgamation on February 27, 2020 at the Royal Opera House.
While one misses the Jazz Yatras of the past, any connect with jazz – in whatever form – is a welcome change from the multifarious and often disparate sounds emanating across Mumbai city. In showcasing talent across various countries – Surinam, U.S., South Korea, France, South Africa, Thailand, The Netherlands and, of course, mother India – this debut Festival, under the aegis of organiser Banyan Tree, featured two bands daily.
Day one opened with South African pianist Ntando Ngcapu and his band, followed by the Round Midnight Orchestra from The Netherlands. Day two concluded with Dutch trumpeter Saski Laroo and her band, with keyboardist Louiz Banks joining them on stage for the jazz standard “Summertime”, prior to the expected all-star jam.
While the overall standards of musicians – be it playing the sounds of hip-hop jazz, smooth jazz, jazz-rock, bebop, or renditions of standards – were a pleasant surprise, none more than Mr Saxman & Takeshi Band, from Thailand, who opened day two. In mixing their set list with popular songs and traditional Thai tunes, the best moments were kept for their renditions of Hindi film songs, ranging from “Gulabi Ankhen” [from ‘The Train’] to “Tum Hi Ho” [from ‘Aashiqui 2’].
Overall, a marvellous presentation held in association with Dutch event organisers Amersfoort Jazz, with much hope that the World Jazz Festival turns into an annual event.
Next, in ensuring that one good turn deserves another, composer Siddharth Kasyap’s ‘Perfect Amalgamation’ concert returned to Mumbai shores following a brief sabbatical since August last year. Nevertheless, its brilliance remained untarnished and despite a change in line-up with at least two musicians – Dilshad Khan substituting Momin Khan on sarangi, and violinist Kushmita KC making way for Jitendra Thakur – it had no bearing on the almost 90-minutes of sound excellence.
In running through nine compositions of Siddharth Kasyap, meeting the high standards of the debut were not only maintained [read our review posted on 08.08.19], but the introduction of a new song in the “Magic Of Claps”, based on Raga Hansadhwani, had all 13 musicians on stage clapping in unison, but as separate groups with different beats. With the bass of Aakashdeep Gogoi being the common thread throughout the song, the instrument effectively supported the amazing composing gift of team leader Siddharth Kasyap as the definite talent of the future.
Perfect Amalgamation – organised by Crescendo Talent & Management, and presented by Showhouse – is a concept that certainly deserves to move from a pan-India audience to an international one.