Originally posted on GOA NO LIMITS ®:
Panjim has raised last night all the colors of jazz: latin, pop, African, free … to the delight of the numerous audience who came to applaud the 50 musicians who all played for free. Some came from afar to pay tribute to Jazz. Colin D’Cruz who organized the evening was everywhere on stage and backstage.
Talented musicians have succeeded each other on the stage : ”The Ultra Brass Quartet “, led by Rui Lobo, Chico Fonseca-singer/goa’s veteran, Zezinho Fernandes, goa’s music ambassador, Desmond and Barry duo from Mumbai, Varun Carvahlo, singer, Quentine, singer, Natalie Matos, singer from UK, “Moon Arra”, duo featuring Madhuri and Jagadeesh from Bangalore, Chritian Marwitz, percussionist from Germany, “Jazz Junction” featuring Susan Rocha, vocals, Benoy Rai, guitar, Jason Quadros, keyboards, Colin D’Cruz, bass and Lester Godinho, drums with guest singer Shaista Thapar, saxophonist Simon Hewitt from Australia and trumpet player Johnny Fernandes, Carlos Gonsalves-percussionist, “Smoking Chutney”, featuring Chrystal Farrell, vocals, Benoy Rai, guitar, Sancho Menezes, keyboards, Colin D’Cruz, bass and Bosco D’Souza, drums. The show was presented by Raymond Albuquerque from Mumbai.
I turned music producer after close to four decades of live performance. Five star hotel residencies, local concerts, international tours and just about every genre of music contributed to my continuously updated music vocabulary. Turning music producer was the most natural development in my career. Producing other artiste’s music gives me greater joy than producing my own. I set up a recording studio in Goa and went about doing just that and in a span of two years I have produced over seventy originals, many of which topped international internet charts. The world was ready for original western music from India but India wasn’t. Right through my career I only encountered record labels who knew exactly what every Indian wanted and that was songs to be sung in Hindi. It was just about the same with radio stations. Granted, we live in a country ruled by bollywood and Hindi is a major language. English speaking people in India may be a minority but then again when we talk even a tiny percentage of India, we are talking the population of an entire European country. Indigo 91.9 FM is probably the only radio station in the country to see this perspective and took on the might of bollywood by broadcasting only international music in India. The station launched in Bangalore and then in Goa and quickly grew into the favorite channel for those of us who enjoyed western music. All other radio stations fell prey to bollywood, loosing their identity with all of them sounding the same. Indigo 91.9 FM stands out as the only radio station catering to western music lovers in India. Most of the songs I have been producing has been in English and Indigo 91.9 was my only hope to have my music broadcast locally. It took me a long time to convince the heads that western music being produced in India easily matches and in many cases even outclasses international releases. I had documented my tracks that topped thousands of worldwide entries on internet charts and this finally convinced them to give my music a shot. The 26th of August 2012 will go down as a historical day for local talent in Goa when ‘Indigo Goa Grooves’ went on air in a one year long weekly broadcast. In just three months the slickly produced two hour broadcast, showcasing only local talent, grew into the most popular show on air in Goa prompting the station to take the show on the road through a series of live performances around Goa called Indigo Goa Grooves-live in concert! If you are in Goa on a Sunday tune in to Indigo 91.9 FM’s Indigo Goa Grooves at 5pm.
Goa is and will always be the live music hub of India and hopefully the world someday. The tourist season between October and March every year, turns Goa into a global village with people from all over the world making themselves at home with the Goan way of life. Nowhere else in India would you find hundreds, maybe thousands of live music venues with almost every second restaurant and lounge bar in Goa featuring live music in some form or the other. Mumbai, the supposedly most happening city in India and all other metro cities for that matter, have only a handful of live music venues in comparison, one of the reasons why I decided to move out of Mumbai and setup home and studio in Goa where I belong. In Mumbai I used to tour worldwide with bollywood icons like Asha Bhosle and Sonu Nigam performing for people from all over the world. After moving to Goa I still perform for people from all over the world by just going out and playing at a restaurant in my neighbourhood. The recently renovated Jardim Garcia da Orta in Panjim was brought back to life with a series of concerts at the park’s grand bandstand, an initiative by an organization I set up in Goa called Jazz Goa. My studio in Sangolda has been recording some of Goa’s most amazing music talent along with accomplished international visiting virtuosos, to produce some world class music that often tops the international internet charts.
On the flipside I have noticed the term ‘live music’ deteriorating over the years thanks to machines and one man bands. A one man band is nothing but a singer singing against pre recorded music and should be called a ‘solo singer’ and definitely not a ‘one man band’ or even worse as some venues advertise ‘live music by one man band’. Both the venue and the artiste realize that a one man band is nothing but a compromise on real live music due to budget and sometimes space constraints. A place that spells class, like the Marriott’s AZ UR lounge bar has my jazz band Jazz Junction playing live music every Friday night. A place like Poco Loco in Baga would compromise with a duo singing along with canned music. Even more scary than the one man band is the ‘no man band’ where buttons are pressed to play CD’s and passed off as live music. But then again, to each their own. If people enjoy listening to live music performed by a CD player so be it. I have spent close to forty years honing my skill on a musical instrument called a bass guitar and I will continue playing music on a musical intstrument!
By Colin D’Cruz
Watch live music videoclips from Goa: http://www.youtube.com/user/jazzgoa
UNESCO recently declared the 30th of April as International jazz day,
encouraging worldwide participation on and around the 30th of April every year.
Jazz Goa celebrated it in style on the 1st of May in a second edition of
‘Concert in the park’ at the beautifully renovated Jardim Garcia da Orta in
Panjim. The crowd turnout was nothing short of phenomenal with all seating
arrangement filling in even before kick off time at 6pm. The rest of the huge
gathering filed in around 7pm and were happy to stand through some rivetting
performances that simply took thier breath away. The concert had celebrity show
host Raymond Alburqueque at the helm introducing every act with his usual flair
to give the show a classy edge. The Panjim Open Philharmonic made up of amateur
and professional musicians took the stage on the dot of six and went through
their repertoire with finnese guided by founding member Rui Lobo.
Then came Raymonds announcement of Jazz Goa’s official participation in the
International jazz day inviting Jazz Junction to take the stage with Yvonne
Gonsalves on vocals, Joshua Costa on keyboards, Colin D’Cruz on fretless bass
and Lester Godinho on drums. The quartet simply blew the crowd away at the
outset itself opening with a swinging original called ‘Jazz Goa Blues’ followed
by their own versions of jazz standards like ‘Triste’ and ‘You don’t know what
love is’ including contemporory jazz tunes like’ and ‘Any place I hang my hat
is home’. They then invited Canadian jazz singer Stefano Rocchetti to jam on
‘Georgia’ and ‘Autumn Leaves’. Stefano is a showman extraordinaire, the crowd
just could not get enough of him, he left the stage promising to be back after
a beer. Jazz Junction wound up their set with a tune aptly titled ‘That’s all’.
UK guitarist Chris Jolly and singer Zezinho Fernandes then filled in with a
couple of mellow tunes while Goa’s hot new act ‘Smoking Chutney’ prepared to blowthe jam packed park away in a sizzling hour long set. Smoking Chutney featured Benoy Rai on guitar and vocals, Colin D’Cruz on bass and Dennis Coelho on drums with Goa’s ace percussionist Carlos Gonsalves jamming in as a guest along with UK singer Jan Graveson. The band opened with a smoking rendition of John Scofield’s ‘Do Like Eddie’ that had Benoy’s fiery guitar solos sitting on Dennis and Colin’s
tight drum and bass grooves. Then came the tune ‘Tightrope’ this time
showcasing Benoy’s vocal talent as well. Another smoking blues called ‘Red
House’ and it was time for Jan Graveson to join Smoking Chutney to pump up the
already adrenalized band. Jan showed the audience what ‘showtime’ is all about
with high energy renditions of the Police’s ‘Message in a bottle’ and the
Beatle’s ‘Come together’. Jan’s was a tough act to follow but showman Steffano
took it in his stride taking the stage again with an absolutely amazing renditionof ‘Hoochie Coochie man’. It was now way past closing time but the crowd stayed rivetted demanding an encore that turned out to be the ultimate show stopper – an original tune titled ‘Smoking Chutney’ by the closing act ‘Smoking Chutney’. The show ended with Raymond promising many more concerts in the park. Those who miss out on Jazz Goa concerts can log on to http://www.youtube.com/user/jazzgoa to view videoclips of the action in Goa.
Jazzing it up
By Pamela D’Mello
Tucked away on the first floor of a nondescript apartment block,
surrounded by lush green paddy fields is the unlikely venue for Jazz
Goa’s recording studio. Nothing much to look at, until —
musician/producer Colin D’Cruz plays recordings of some of the new
talent he has discovered and your mood gets thoughtful. Coming out of
the speakers are songs and voices and instrumentation that could match
any of the new talent emerging out of the unknown worldwide.
There’s twenties something Neil Gomes, a multi instrument player, who
plays saxophone and guitar with equal ease, and a good voice to go
with it. “Neil’s song Perhaps, uploaded onto Soundclick, one of the
internet sites for new talent, climbed to number one on the site among
hundreds of songs uploaded there”, says D’Cruz. Now based in Mumbai,
the young musician is active in the live and recorded music industry
of that city.
Nor is Gomes the only young artiste to find his place in Jazz Goa’s
talent search. Twenty seven other singers and musicians have recorded
original jazz tracts on the Jazz Goa CD. There’s professional singer
Danielle Rebello, whose voice uploaded on the internet got her an
offer to record in Spain. Colin sees promise in many of his young
For nine months in 2010 Colin put his love for jazz and building
talent by producing and running the Jazz Goa, slot on FM Rainbow in
Goa. “I showcased purely local talent on the show which ran from
10-10.30 pm every Monday, just to prove to station managers that local
talent can produce good music if encouraged”. Most station managers
blindly plug for Bollywood and international artistes, is his
Colin’s song Smoking Chutney was nominated for the 2010 IMA awards in
the world fusion category, with the song picked out for the guitar
solo performance by guitarist Elvis Lobo.
While new talent is slowly finding its space via the internet, it is
Goa’s small but vibrant live jazz music scene that has been creating a
buzz for several years now.
The Saturday Nite Market in Arpora, North Goa, has emerged as one of
the prime venues for jazz and experimental music. While the bazaar —
originally designed by a German settler Ingo Grill — runs as a well
organised sprawling market of stalls, offering wares from shell
earrings to leather boots, to Indian handicrafts — the heart of the
market is its live stage, just off a buzzing food court.
Here, in high season, when the open air market attracts an eclectic
crowd of foreign and discerning Indian tourists, western settlers and
leftover hippies — the ground level stage becomes the setting for a
series of live acts each Saturday. So while fire eaters and African
dancers do their spot acts under starry night skies, there’s a real
cooler vibe when the musicians get on stage. “I’ve heard some of the
best music play at the Saturday nite market. Musicians from all over
the world, passing through, will just land up, contact the organisers,
and offer to play just for the joy of playing to an appreciative
chilled out global audience and that strangely produces some of the
most inspired music, out of the mainstream, and totally mind blowing”,
says hotelier Francis de Braganca.
Local jazz musicians love playing at the market, because the audience
that gathers around the stage is genuinely appreciative and the
ambiance is every musicians’ dream. “It’s a scene that I doubt happens
anywhere else in the world” adds Braganca.Two kilometres away,
Mackey’s nite market, also on Saturdays in the tourist season, runs
similar gigs that offers a stage for jazz and other musicians.
Another favourite jazz concert venue that’s heating up the scene is
Goa Chitra’s small amphitheatre in coastal Benaulim in south Goa.
Every week from October to March, the organic farm cum ethnographic
museum, hosts a jazz/fusion/experimental group for a small intimate
audience of around 200. “We keep it small, but musicians especially
love the intimacy of the place” says Victor Hugo Gomes, proprietor and
Last year, Goa Chitra had John Law’s Art of Sound Trio play in Goa,
just after their return from the North Sea Jazz Festival, in
Rotterdam. In November this year, Blues’ diva Danna Gillespie is
signed on for a fund-raiser concert. This year on, artistes will be
encouraged to give small workshops as well.
There’s a limited following for jazz, and the workshops are meant to
raise the bar on appreciation and allow young musicians to benefit
from the exposure.
As an event organiser, Gomes has always been more keen on the serious
experimental side of jazz and disdains turning jazz music into family
and tourist entertainment. Gomes still rues the fact that the Jazz
Yatra wound down completely. “Jazz is serious creative music, its a
group of musicians communicating with each other through their music
to create innovative sounds. You can’t do that if people are chatting
and children running around”, says Gomes. What annoys him more, and a
lot of jazz musicians will concur, is that hotels and restaurants pay
musicians a pittance. Jazz bands require a minimum of four musicians
on stage, and with hotels paying less and less for a night’s
performance, sometimes as low as Rs 500, jazz bands have had to
disband, emerge as soloists or duos, killing the magic of the jazz
That is largely the story of Mumbai’s once thriving jazz band scene
that played in hotels like the Oberoi and the Taj. While many of the
greats of the swinging sixties have passed on, some of their younger
followers have relocated to Goa, some returning to ancestral homes, as
jazz warriors effecting a resurgence in Goa’s global tourist village.
Steve Sequeira, Mac Dourado, George Fernandes, Carlos Monteiro, Carlos
Gonsalves, Lester Godinho and Angelie Alvares, have done their bit,
playing jazz gigs in hotels and restaurants.
Victor Gomes can take credit for organising the first Great Music
Revival in the nineties, that brought on stage, the region’s best
known jazz musicians from the late Chris Perry, to Anibal Castro and
Braz Gonsalves. The latter proved that India’s jazz virtuosos could
still fill an outdoor venue, when he gave a memorable performance at a
2011 concert with Louis Banks in Panjim’s Kala Academy, drawing
flawlessly clear notes from his saxophone.
Gonsalves’s wife Yvonne still entrances audiences as she sings with
Jazz Junction each Friday night at the Goa Marriott and at Poco Loco
restaurant in Baga. “I could never give up Jazz music. I’d love to go
on and on and its great to sing in Goa”, says the soft spoken Yvonne,
who definitely picked up a love for jazz music from her late father,
the legendary Chic Chocolate.
Jazz as entertainment in Goa’s many restaurants may not quite be at
the creative cutting edge of music, but it still gives off great
vibes, creates a commercial opening for musicians, and when a
dedicated audience follows, the jazz club scene that emerges is no
less stimulating or creative. Jazz nights with Colin D’Cruz’s Jazz
Junction at Poco Loco is one of the most happening venues for jazz
during tourist season. Diners, mainly middle aged western tourists,
who return year after year, enjoy the drink and food and imbibe
equally of the music. “For the Poco Loco gigs, my good friend Bob
Tinker, plays a mean trumpet, joining us every year for a couple of
months, leaving his own jazz club in France to enjoy the jazz scene in
Goa” says Colin.
Colin swears that Goa is emerging as the new hub for live jazz music
in India. At Stone House in Candolim, one could almost believe that.
Thrice a week, Pascoal Fernandes, strums his guitar
playing jazz, soft rock and retro melodies for an audience of British
long stay visitors who are regulars at the garden restaurant set in an
old Indo-Portuguese villa with an old world charm about it. Pascoal
is a veteran with three decades of playing in jazz bands that graced
Mumbai’s five star hotels, and his virtuosity with the guitar are
proof. Owner Chris Fernandes is proud that Stone House’s reputation
for its music is as acclaimed as for its food and atmosphere.
“Musicians from among the guests, will often get on stage and jam up.
There are regulars like David Peterson, Elvis Rumiao and Tom Lee who
perform here, besides some of the guests themselves” says Chris. No
dance music, no rock-n-roll at this restaurant. Stone House is
oriented strictly towards jazz and the Blues and soft rock.
Jazz Inn in Cavelosim, south Goa is another restaurant run by a lover
of the music. Owner Chris Pereira, a former saxophone player, says
some of the best shows at his eatery are given by tourists, who simply
jam together on the instruments kept on stage. “Some of our magical
nights are when George Hamilton, a tourist and musician, plays his
trumpet and jams with local musicians to create a great atmosphere
united by music and camaraderie that is pretty special and quite
essential to any jazz club”, says Pereira. Wednesdays and Saturday
nights are reserved for blues and jazz, often so full that Chris has
to turn down table bookings.
It is this sort of not so insignificant audience for jazz music, that
some club and restaurant owners are chasing, when they set up special
jazz nights. Pianist Xavier Pires with his small jazz group plays
Thursdays at the Casino Carnaval. The Pentagon restaurant in Majorda,
south Goa chases a small audience, but has an unlikely group of jazz
musicians who jam up to play once a week. The group of jazz musicians
include a priest, a cardiologist, a bank clerk and a farmer!
As with all businesses, they wax and wane, some shut down, some
stagger along, some struggle to build a “scene”. Baga’s Take 5 club
has a tepid on-off scene, while Jazz Corner in Candolim, under a new
management has had a change of character, switching to Rajasthani folk
dances! Restaurants that once featured jazz nights move over to other
genres in search of a paying clientele. And musicians do realise that
jazz has to compete with DJ dance music, techno, rock, reggae, retro,
Latino and standard pop for space. Despite this, jazz has its niche
and lovers of the genre are keen to hold that space and even expand
Heritage Jazz — a concept that married jazz music and heritage
architecture in a colonial mansion in Panjim’s Campal quarter —- has
seen dozens of successful concerts over the past decade.
Non-professional pianist and owner Armando Gonsalves, drove the
concept of holding balcony and courtyard performances by foreign jazz
groups that became hugely popular. Gonsalves is now attempting to
marry Konkani lyrics and jazz to recreate Konkani jazz. Nobody has
forgotten that regional Konkani music got its greatest all time hits
when jazz composer Chris Perry teamed up with singer Lorna Cordeiro in
the sixties. “It’s really the way forward. Someday a Konkani song
could win a Grammy award. That is why I have convinced the five
Monserrate brothers of Mumbai to regroup as a band” says Gonsalves.
This article appeared in Soundbox 1st anniversary issue page 49:
Navhind Times-6th July 2011
Sun City’s ‘Sunday Night Live’ was alive and kicking with Jazz Junction featuring some amazing local as well as international talent. M’tafiti Imara, an accomplished saxophonist, composer and educator from America literally blew the over capacity house apart with some high energy, spontaneous solos that seemed to be pushed to even higher levels by Jazz Junction’s tight rhythm section made up of Darryl Rodrigues on keyboards, Colin D’Cruz on the fretless bass and Lester Godinho on drums. Then came the Australian singer/songwriter Madeleine Chase and with her came some thunder from down under as she went about belting out songs as though she had been singing with the band all her life. This prompted local artistes like Veeam Braganza, Nelly Pereira, Mac Dourado and many more to take to the stage and create absolute magic with Jazz Junction.
Music in Goa is known for its Latin American roots and one Goan musician Colin D’Cruz got the opportunity to perform Latin-jazz with a couple of masters from Brazil and America. Thanks to the Internet.
The internet has turned the world into one large interesting room and it was through the internet that Joel Smith saw and heard Colin’s performances. Joel Smith is an American pianist, composer, arranger, educator and Latin-jazz performer. He leads a jazz trio which also features twenty-year-old Brazilian drummer Tiago Michelin who started playing drums at the age of three and now studies music at the world-renowned institute of jazz – the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Jazz bass player Colin D’Cruz who has been making waves worldwide with his music regularly being published on the internet, saw yet another of his dreams come true. Joel Smith invited Colin to perform with his trio at the first of their world wide gigs. They played their first international gig at the live music venue – Blue Frog in Mumbai on the 31st of May 2011.
Colin had studied Joel’s music through exchanges on the internet long before the first gig and he comfortably slipped into the band even though the trio actually got together for the first time onstage itself. Joel Smith’s music has Afro-Cuban elements laced with intricate jazz harmonies and infectious Latin rhythm making it an intense yet enjoyable listening experience.
The packed house at Blue Frog responded to every track with thunderous applause and did not let go of the band even way past the last song for the show.
One of the tracks performed was named ‘Miramar’ which is a very common name of cities in South America. Joel was quite surprised to know that there was a Miramar in Goa too and announced the fact to the audience dedicating the song to a few Goans in the audience. Colin discussed possibilities of having the band perform in Goa and Joel Smith has promised to include Goa in his worldwide itinerary.
Colin D’Cruz-jazz bassplayer from India
What inspired you to become a jazz artiste? When did you decide that this will be your career?
Like most musicians, I got into music initially with school/college bands. We used to play pop/rock covers and even at that time I remember always wanting to play those tunes my own way. I was improvising even before I knew what jazz was all about. Soon after I finished college I worked as a copywriter for an ad agency. Around that time I also got into a five star hotel resident band. It was time to decide weather I would spend my life playing music or selling soaps and toothpaste. An easy decision for me.
Any particular jazz artistes or musicians who have played a role in your own development as a jazz artiste?
There are far too many great musicians who inspired me and continue to inspire me. The one that knocked the socks off me though, was a bassplayer by the name of Jaco Pastorius, a legend who took bass from a background blur right upfront and into the listeners face.
How did you train to become a jazz musician?
Most of my learning came from listening. I initially picked up stuff from recorded tracks by ear. Once I decided to play pofessionally, I realized I would need to know more about what I would be spending the rest of my life with. I taught myself to read music and then went through a whole lot of theory to enhance my musical vocabulary.
What are the components that go into the genre of jazz?
Spontaneous improvisation are the keywords to jazz. Any genre of music can be jazzed up with an improvised version. Today we have rock-jazz, pop-jazz, funk-jazz.. there’s a -jazz attached to every genre of music and there will be -jazz attached to every genre that comes along.
In your view, how popular is jazz as a music genre in India? Do you think people really appreciate it?
My contention has always been that, if jazz is improvised music then Indian classical music is jazz. One of the world’s greatest institute for jazz studies, the Berklee college of music in America, recognized the fact and introduced Indian classical music in it’s curriculum. How popular is jazz in India? Just as popular as Indian classical music! Jazz will never be as popular as pop music, if it did it would have to be called pop instead of jazz and the terrifying part is jazz musicians may have to do a Madonna and strut onstage wearing conical underwear.
What do you make of the present international scenario as far as jazz is concerned?
Jazz has a niche audience worldwide. Pop music will always rule. It will rule today and wil be ruled out tommorow, while jazz blisfully evolves, embracing all other forms of music along the way.
Did you try your hand at any other genres of music before deciding on this one?
I don’t think there’s any musician in this country who has played with the number of bands, musicians and music genre’s that I have. You can review some of the bands at my website www.jazzyatra.com
Tell us a bit about yourself and give us your take on how your career has progressed so far.
Music helped me get out of my shell and face the world with a song. If it wasn’t for music I would have been a light house keeper on Andaman Island or even worse, I would have been a doctor, lawyer or engineer. My career flows in the direction of my heart, I’m happy to be earning a living off something I’ve always been passionate about. I’ve performed and toured worldwide with some legendary international artistes as well as local icons like Sonu Nigam, Asha Bhosle and Remo Fernandes. I currently work on two resident band contracts in the afternoons at the JW Marriott hotel with my fusion ensemble called The Brown Indian Band for obvious reason and at night at the Taj Lands End hotel with my band called the Bassman’s Band for some strange reason.
You have mentioned in one of your previous interviews that it would be more appropriate to call jazz ‘world music’. Why do you say that?
Simply because jazz is the most open, alive and continously evolving form of music that embraces all other forms of music in the world today.
Which of your gigs would you recall as being the most memorable and why?
So far the most memorable would be the Hennessey XO international jazz tour that I did in 2005. This world renowned jazz tour has always been signing on artistes signed to the famed American ‘Blue Note’ record label. After hearing the band in Mumbai, Hennessey head honchos decided that they would break tradition and sign on a jazz band from far away India. A huge feather in the cap for Indian jazz musicians.
What are your other passions apart from the obvious one ? jazz
I’m also very passionate about passion
You had the opportunity to play with Daniel Pearl as part of Jazz Junction. What was it like playing with him in the same band? Daniel Pearl was an accomplished violinist who was very easy to get along with so it was always fun having him onboard.
Can you tell us about the concert you have lined up for October 10 to honour Daniel Pearl’s memory?
Me and my friend Meldon D’Cunha who owns Soul Fry were amoung the inumerable friends Daniel made wherever he went. We’ve been organizing this event every year to keep his memory alive. This year the event will be a jam session where I’ve lined up a house band made up of Jarvis Menezes on keyboards, Ian Enthiado on drums and myself on bass. We’ve invited just about every singer and musician who perform on the local circuit including some from Goa
Some pearls of wisdom for young people who might want to become jazz musicians.
Imitate, assimillate, innovate!
Something wacky that that no one would know about Colin D’Cruz..
I’ve been rehearsing the conical jock strut for years..watchout for my next pop gig!
Gulf News (Dubai)-28th July ’07
Lotus Cafe regulars consider the Brown Indian Band part of the furniture even though, they haven’t been playing here that long. Maybe it’s because the guys are propped up on couches at the JW Marriott hotel’s lobby. And no, they don’t play lounge music, their sound is a unique fusion of jazz and Indian classical styles. “We always wanted to create and showcase our own music,” says the bandleader and bassplayer Colin D’Cruz, who with their manager Ravi Nayar, dreamt up this hybrdised style. “However this remained a dream because of a lack of platform to perform. This only became a reality when the JW Marriott hotel came up with a platform to showcase this innovative style of music.”
For over a year now, the band has performed it’s distinctive sound of fusion here, perched at the top of the staircase above the Lotus Cafe. With the Arabian sea undulating behind them, it’s not a bad spot for a gig!
“Our sound is a blend of Indian classical and jazz” says D’Cruz “Indian classical music like jazz, is all about improvisation even though it is linear and improvisations are based on one scale called ‘raga’. Jazz, on the other hand, has a broader palette where multiple scales are often used to improvise through harmonmic changes. Indian classical music is known to be very meloncholic whereas jazz can be extremely exuberant. Indian classical music however, has subtle quarter tones and complex rhythm structures that add a whole new dimension to jazz.”
The result is a cool smooth blend that has become the signature sound of the hotel, where they play original compositions six days a week. With imitation the greatest form of flattery, some of their tunes are regularly reproduced at other Mumbai nightspots.
The band members are well know in their respective fields, flute player Dhiraj Kapadia has been involved with Bollywood music for over 30 years. Keyboard player Tony Dias has also scored film music and is a trained western classical musician. while Kapadia and percussionist Jayesh Dhargalkar are trained in Indian classical music. D’Cruz has experimented with nearly every genre of music, performing with various musicians from all over the world, including blues legend Dana Gillespie, Indian Rocker Remo Fernandes, Country singer Gary Lawyer, Playback siger Sonu Nigam and reggae artist Apache Indian.
D’Cruz often performs several different genres of music at any given times but says he’s most at home with jazz, which he calls “the most open, alive and evolving form of music.”
So why lounge around on the job?
“The idea is to have an informal atmosphere like a living room, where you have these musicians hanging around and jamming. It has been extremely well recieved and a lot of people actually hang around and listen. They connect with us,” says D’Cruz.
By Andy Van Smeerdijk