Delhi's Tryst With Jazz Music

13/07/2015 11:03 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Where fun was had, pot was smoked (by others), ice cream waallah sold beer and IMFL, chip chokra and bhel puri ruled. Hey, never more fun especially with the standing crowd in the back. Who wants to go to a concert??

Amid late monsoon showers and darkened skies, the city's landscape changes from a sweltering inferno to a bedlam of chaos and cacophony. However, amid the mind-numbing traffic and ludicrous potholes, the heart of India does retain its charm in the form of musical extravaganzas -- like jazz band JBD Trio's performance here.

QLA - a newly open music, food and beverage destination - saw JBD Trio -- a group comprising of saxophonist Derek Beckvold and drummer Bob Jordon from the US and New Delhi-based bassist Jayant Manchanda -- took to the stage in Delhi on Sunday night.

The band presented an awe-inspiring, two-hour long set of traditional jazz tunes, albeit in their own, trademark improvisation -- and having visited QLA on two occasions earlier this month, I knew that their choice of artist was yet again going to be exemplary. It was.

Although jazz music has been present in India since the British era, it has been largely confined to a niche audience. However, with the advent of the internet, and a surge in jazz gigs and festivals in India, the legendary music genre has found a following among the youth, many of whom have themselves picked up instruments to learn its strings.

"India is a progressive nation. It has a scope to expand and grow not only economically, but also when it comes to music; and jazz has immense potential for growth here," Jordon told IANS.

Jordon, who interestingly hails from a punk background -- citing bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat and Dead Kennedeys as initial influences -- says he moved away from the genre because of the "violent" crowd associated with it, and shifted his focus to jazz music.

Saxophonist Beckvold too shares a similar opinion with Jordon, and says that Delhi's jazz music scene has grown tremendously in the last five years. He is also a faculty member of the Global Music Institute, New Delhi. With the annual Delhi International Jazz Festival entering its fifth year in 2015, one would certainly seem to agree with Beckvold.

On stage, the band's passionate fervour for the music came alive with their performance. Divided in two segments, the band's set-list comprised of improvisations of classic tracks from different eras of jazz.

They began their set with a soulful rendition of veteran American theatre composer Jerome Kern's "All the things you are". Beckvold's saxophone melodies blended suavely with the low-pitched frequencies of Manchanda's double bass, even as Jordon complemented his harmonies with crafty percussion.

Their set-list also included classics like "There is no greater love" by Isham Jones, "There will never be another you" by Harry Warren and "Why am I treated so bad" by American gospel band The Staple Singers among others.

The JBD Trio made an indelible impression on the music aficionados present at QLA and left them asking for more. Later, Valentine Shipley and Chintan Kalra of urban folk band Zoya joined Bob Jordon for an impromptu jam session, much to the delight of the audience.

With a growing interest in jazz music in Delhi and India, musicians like JBD Trio are a breath of fresh air and it's imperative that they continue to play more concerts and also release albums to keep the momentum going.

QLA, which in its initial phase has already started providing a platform for independent musicians to exhibit their craft, will also have a huge role to re-ignite the city's indoor gig scene.

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