Goa Plus-3rd September ’04

Goa has provided India with some of the finest jazz musicians that ever set a stage on fire. Yet strangely, there hasn’t been a meaningful audience for jazz in Goa itself. gonsalves Mansion in the stylish Campal area of Panaji, is the perfect location. A long corridor overlooking the street seats a hundred or more people. A balcao halfway down the corridor transforms into a stage. Rooms off the corridor vend food and drink. And the street outside is perfect for dragging a chair into for happy al fresco listening. strings of light festoon the mansion’s balcony and line its roof lines. It’s all nothing short of magical.
Last weeks concert kicked off with S.Harikumar and H. Subramanium, an mazing violin and ghattam duo from Kerala, in a recital of ragas and bhajans that morphed into a long fusion session with Colin D’Cruz on bass, Lester Godinho on drums and Jazzy Joe on tenor sax and clarinet. Mr. Harikumar the violinist is the student of the international violinist icon L. Subramanium, and the musicial dna was there to see and enjoy.
Then came Jazzy Joe. Bandleader in Calcutta’s legendary 60’s, the sprightly almost-80 is an ancien of unquestionable heritage and stature. Jazzy Joe ran the rest of the evening like a traditional mistr, to the delight of all concerned.
Supporting the changing frontline was Goa’s indispensable rhythm section: George Fernandez, Colin D’Cruz and Lester Godinho. Fortunately they are versatile and greatly gifted musicians, at home in almost any genre of jazz.
Others who were spottlighted included Hema sardesai the celebrated blues chanteuse, fine jazz professional singer Belinda Oliveira; Mr. Jerry Fernandes, a respected violinist and Phalke Award recipient. And because Jazz Goa’s mission includes the encouragement of young talent, young Veeam Braganza, a singer in the Whitney Houston-by-the-way-of Lorna style and two young arrivals from Kenya who played boogie-woogie piano. All good fun that the audience took in its stride.
And then there was this piano player with a composition called “Song for Michael Fredrick: Thos Whom The Gods Love Die Young” In honour of the late Michael Fredrick D’Souza, who passed away recently and to whose memory the evening was dedicated. Uncharestic modesty prevents me from naming the composer-pianist, but the song and he were (ahem) brilliant.
The evening ended the next morning. It could have run on to 12 noon. but i can’t help wondering how long Jazz Goa will run on. The concerts are free though the cost of each one runs into five figures. The libations are sponsored but their sale and the returns from the snacks contribute less than a quarter of the costs. in the end Armando and his friends make good several thousands each. As a project it’s untenable and as a labour of love it’s unfair. Yet the organisers misplaced Goan sensitivities prevent them from charging the audience a small fee that would give Jazz Goa a lease of life. someone should do something about it.

Stanley Pinto


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