Jazzing it up!

September 2, 2011

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
protegees.

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
complaint.

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
curator.

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
band.

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
it.

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:
http://www.soundbox.co.in/wp-content/uploads/magazine/issue13/

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An electrifying Sunday night

July 6, 2011

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.

 

Goan musician featured in international band

June 3, 2011

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.

An Indian Jazz musician

October 6, 2007

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!

Brown Indian Band lounges around

August 2, 2007

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

Jazz should now be spelt jaaaaaaaaaaaz

July 27, 2007

Hindustan Times-27th June ’07

A little under one hundred years ago, a bunch of American musicians discovered the joys of improvising and called it jazz. Over two thousand years ago, Indian classical musicians were busy laying down the foundation for musical improvisation. If jazz is improvised music, Indian classical music is jazz! Now that we’ve discovered who really discovered jazz, it’s time to take a good look at the state in India. The name of India’s most popular live jazz venue located in Mumbai, tells the story loud and clear. It started as ‘Jazz by the bay’, changed to ‘Not just jazz by the bay’ and should now switch to ‘Just not jazz by the bay’!
Granted, jazz has a niche audience and commercial music rules, but then a few years later, that same commercial music is ruled out while jazz blissfully evolves, embracing all other forms of music along the way. We now have rock-jazz, pop-jazz, funk-jazz, latin-jazz, hip-hop-jazz, indo-jazz… to cut a very long story short, there is a -jazz attached to every genre of music and there will be a -jazz attached ot every genre that comes along. That’s how huge jazz is and it should now be spelt jaaaaaaaaaaz!
Jazz is the medium through which I express myself musically. Jazz allows me to be myself as opposed to pop that wants me to be Madonna. I’d rather be myself than strut onstage wearing conical jocks. In fact, not very long ago a leading music company in India released a male indi-pop star’s album titled ‘Mai bhi Madonna’ (I’m Madonna too) with the man dressed in drag on the album cover. Jazz suddenly began to make profound sense to me. I chose to play bass as I felt it was the coolest sound of music. Rhythm, melody and harmony makes music and the bassplayer is the important link between the three. I may not be upfront or in the spotlight all the time like the singer in the band but I am certainly right behind the song all the way.
It’s been a long, exciting journey into jazz for me. I made a lot of friends as a musician and a whole lot of enemies. I did meet a lot of people. If it wasn’t for my music I would have been a lighthouse keeper on Andaman island or what’s worse, I would have been a doctor, lawyer or engineer. Yes, music helped me get out of my shell and face the world with a song. I currently work on two resident contracts at the JW Marriott hotel with my indo-jazz fusion ensemble called ‘The Brown Indian Band’ for obvious reasons and at night at the Taj Lands End hotel with my band called ‘The Bassman’s Band’ for some strange reason. I often take time off from these two gigs to perform at concerts and corporate events all over India and internationally. One of the highlights of my career so far, has been performing internationally on the world renowned Hennessy XO jazz tour.
My journey into jazz has been fun and my best is always yet to come. To give back to the music that gave me so much, I setup an organisation in Goa called ‘Jazz Goa’ that can be reviewed at www.jazzgoa.com After close to three decades of playing jazz with just about every jazz musician in the country, I would have loved to be called the Godfather of Indian jazz. The position has been filled I’m told, so I’ll settle for Godson of Indian jazz!

Checkout some of my bands and music at my website www.jazzyatra.com
 

By Colin D’Cruz

It’s all about jazz

July 27, 2007

Hello Panjim interview with Colin D’Cruz-one of India’s most accomplished jazz musicians.
HP- Tell us something about yourself.
CD- I’m a Mumbai goan looking forward to being a Goa goan very soon. I’ve reached two important milestones in my career. One is, after decades of playing everyone elses music i’ve development a style of my own and the biggest compliment I get these days is when someone recognizes my bassplaying on some tune they heard somewhere, they call up to confirm and..voila! The other milestone is probably every musicians dream, to produce music out of my own studio. A dream that will come true for me within this year when I setup my own state of the art studio in Sangolda. I’ve also setup an organisation called Jazz Goa with the help of fellow musicians and jazz enthusiasts in Goa.

HP- What drew you towards jazz?
CD- Jazz is a huge word, it should be spelt jjjaaaazzzzz! Seriously though, I think jazz is the most open, alive and evolving form of music that allows a musician to be him/herself. Most other forms of music demands a musician to follow trends and tradition or create stuff that’s currently hip. Whereas a jazz musician goes about his business listening, assimilating and finally innovating with yet another genre of jazz! We now have dixiland-jazz, swing-jazz, bebop-jazz, funk-jazz, rock-jazz, pop-jazz, fusion-jazz, latin-jazz, indo-jazz, mando-jazz… to cut a long story short, there’s a -jazz attached to every genre of music. And there will be a -jazz attached to every genre that comes along. I’m a musician who’s atracted to anything that looks, feels, smells, tastes and even sounds like music, so naturally I choose jazz as I get to play it ALL.

HP- What sets apart jazz music from other genres?
CD- Jazz is the only form of music that embraces all other forms and it is no longer American music. Today jazz can safely be called world music.

HP- What led you to become a jazz artiste?
CD- From amoung all the different genre’s of music I grew up listening to, for some reason it was always jazz that struck those extended chords within me. I could always hear the human and very often super human element in a jazz rendition.

HP- Your favourite jazz aristes/tracks.
CD- You’ll need to extend this interview by a few thousand pages to answer that. My all time favourite however was a bassplayer called Jaco Pastorius who revolutionised bassplaying taking bass right upfront, over, under and right through a song.

HP- To whom would you attribute your credentials as a jazz musician?
CD- To everyone i’ve worked with and everyone I would like to work with someday.

HP- Where and how did you train to be a jazz artiste?
CD- I have no formal training in music, I learnt music listening to other musicians, assimilating what I liked and using it consiously or subconsiously in performance until i developed a style of my own. Once I decided to play professionally though, I did study the technicalities through some great music books that are easily available these days.

HP- How do you prepare for a gig?
CD- I make sure there’s enough soda to go with the whisky…just kidding! It depends, if it is a concert where I would be performing my own compositions, I get the tunes composed, then get the band to rehearse and sound the way I heard it in my head. As it often turnsout, input from the rest of the band takes the tune to a dimension I would never have imagined. So you see, music is all about connecting and collaborating, don’t believe any of those fantastic one man bands. They’re faking it for monetary reasons, not that I have anything against it. All is fair in love, war and music.
HP- Talking about gigs, where and when did you first perform/how long have you been into jazz?
CD- Like most musicians I first got into music with school/college bands. I then graduated into fivestar hotel resident bands whose repertoire was made up mainly of jazz standards. I did that for ten years, playing music every night made me a musician.

HP- What is the jazz scene like in India, and Goa in particular?
CD- The jazz scene in India, Goa or anywhere in the world is the same. There’s a niche group of performers and listeners that grows all the time. Hopefully with jazz’s open armed evolution, it will grow into the global sound of music.

HP- What have been your highs and lows in your career thus far?
CD- The highs have always been the applause at the end of a track performed, the lows would be finding out that the applause was actually for the sixer Sachin hit on the big screen just besides the stage at Jazz by the Bay in Mumbai.

HP- How would you explain your role as a jazz musician in society?
CD- A jazz musician gives people a nicer high than some other interesting social highs.

HP- Define jazz.
CD- Jazz is improvised music. Sometimes structured, sometimes orchestrated, sometimes free of form and almost always, spontaneously created.

HP- Notable gigs/performances.
CD- The world reknowned Hennessey XO jazz tour has always been featuring jazz artistes signed by the American Blue Note label. Last year for the first time a jazz band outside the label, from far away India, was selected for this prestigious international tour. I was the bassplayer for that band. An unforgettable experience for sure. More recently my indo-jazz fusion band ‘The Brown Indian Band’ has been approached to open for Sting’s European tour this year. Fingers are crossed about that one.

HP- Collaborations with other musicians.
CD- I am contineously collaborating with musicians from all over the world thanks to the internet and my website http://www.hullocheck.com

HP- I understand you have been into different genres of music and worked with various ensembles. Tell us more.
CD- As I mentioned it before, when it comes to music I want it ALL. Name the genre and chances are, i’ve been there. You’ll find traces of just about every genre in my own music. There are very few musicians in the world today, who would match the number of bands and musicians I have worked with.

HP- Currently performing at…
CD- I currently perform on two resident contracts in Mumbai at the JW Marriott hotel in the afternoons and the Taj Lands End hotel in the nights. I also take timeoff from these two gigs to perform at concerts and corporate events in India and abroad. So that averages some sixty gigs a month!

HP- Your hobbies/interests…
CD- My main hobby and interest is my profession today. Everyone else works for a living, I play for mine. Someone once told me ‘All play and no work makes…makes me tick!’ Seriously though, I am very keen on improving the plight of most goan musicians in Goa. I was one sometime ago so I should know the raw deal most of them get. My plan is to set up Jazz Goa as an umbrella organisation for not just jazz but all the other immense artistic talent in Goa. To start with my studio in Sangolda will record and produce deserving artistes. Jazz Goa will then launch the best from there at a global level. Jazz Goa has already produced four audio CD’s and a DVD that is available in Goa exclusively at Vibes Music in Margao and online at http://www.jazzgoa.com

Interviewed by Basil Pinto

Brown Indians add a sting

July 27, 2007

Hindustan Times-27th december ’06

They have carved a niche in India and they are out to make a mark in Europe now. The Brown Indian Band is all set to wow 18 cities across that continent next year. And their European adventure comes with a rare honour for any Indian band: In April 2007, when the band rocks Europe, they will actually be doing so as the opening act for the legendary singer Sting in a series of concerts.

It all started at JW Marriott hotel, where the band has been playing regularly since April. ” After a particular peformance sometime ago, a guest walked up to me with an irresistable offer: he said he could put me through to Sting, and that the rock icon was looking to perform with an Indian band,” recalls Colin D’Cruz who plays fretless bass with the group.

Of Course, the band members are overwhelmed. “It’s a huge honour, says D’Cruz. “We will perform our own compositions at the concerts including the popular number ‘Mumbai Jumbo’. Right now we are in the process of working out the details with Sting’s agent.”

The band which D’Cruz leads, also includes Dhiraj Kapadia on bansuri, Jayesh Dhargalkar on percussion and Tony Dias on keyboards. For the Sting tour, the band will be joined by two exponents of Carnatic music-Hari kumar on violin and Subramanium on percussion.

The band which started in 1994, is known for its world fusion music where it brings together the best of Indian classical and jazz music.

On the band’s name, D’Cruz says: “There are Red Indians. But, had Christopher Colombus got his navigation right, he’d have discovered us, ‘brown Indians’ first! We feel it’s high time we take pride in our skin colour.”

All the best, guys.

By Anupam Prathary

In Mumbai, even jazz gets the blues

July 27, 2007

DNA-1st December ’06

Just outside the gates of the JW Marriott you will hear dhinchaak rickshaw beats, angry traffic honks and abuses. But in the cosy hotel lobby, for a few hours every Wednesday through Saturday, you can get away from the din and lose yourself in the improvisations of The Brown Indian Band, the resident outfit that plays fusion jazz.

Colin D’Cruz, the band’s bassist, reminisces about the good old days in the late ’70s, when he played jazz every night in restaurants and hotels dotting Churchgate and Colaba.

“In Goa, over the next two months, the stretch between Calangute and Baga sees about 3,000 live music performances every night,” says D’Cruz. “Mumbai was once like that, with jazz playing at Gaylord, Oberoi, The Taj, Berry’s, Venice, Talk of the Town and more.” Of these, the last named, now Not Just Jazz By The Bay, is one of the few to survive. “It should be renamed Anything But Jazz By The Bay,” D’Cruz jokes.

Bombay had a swinging jazz scene from the ’60s till the ’80s. Jazz legends Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck visited to get in on the action. Prakash Thadani, organiser of Jazz Utsav says, “Now it’s all about fashion shows and brand launches. But before the Page 3 culture hit, people wanted to be seen at jazz concerts.”

Today, you can count on your fingers the places in the city where you can catch a jazz band. Club owners complain about foggy licensing issues that are pulling the plug on live entertainment. Henry Tham, who hosts regular blues nights at his eponymous lounge in Colaba every Thursday, says, “The same police act book that deals with crimes like kidnapping, theft and murder, addresses something as innocent as singing and dancing, as if it’s a crime to have a good time. Is it a crime to sing? Should I need a licence or police permission to dance?”

He explains how the livelihood of musicians is at stake as it is practically impossible for restaurants to host musicians regularly. “We need the same permission as that required for a full-scale concert — car parking, and electrical and fire clearances. The rules are no different for small little bars that want a pianist.”

In Bandra’s Pali Market lies Meldan D’Cunha’s endearing restaurant Soul Fry. Its walls are dotted with jazz memorabilia, including a picture or two of Dizzy Gillespie. It hosted jazz nights twice a month for six years. But for the last few months, it has dined silent.

The culprit: licensing issues. D’Cunha hosted similar nights at Trafalgar Chowk, which also stopped around the same time. Even as he raves about professional rhythm and blues and jazz singer Sonia Saigal, touting her as the best jazz singer in the country, he will also tell you that the market for jazz has shrunk. “The number of jazz concerts in the city has gone down.

The main reason is Hindi pop, with the likes of Himesh Reshammiya making crores of rupees.” Ask him about the future of jazz in the same city where jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli and popular group Shakti have played, and he says, “You can’t open just a jazz café. It won’t work.”

But it may not be all that bad. If Mumbai’s club owners and managers are to be believed, the city’s jazz audience is dotted with newer, younger faces. While the coterie was once restricted to 40-plus old-timers and a handful of expatriates, Tham confirms that he sees many youngsters coming back for more every week. D’Cruz says he is surprised to find the younger lot more interested and informed about jazz, asking for various jazz standards.

But sometimes there can be too much of a good thing, as it is this weekend — the dedicated jazz crowd is going to have to decide between two extremely promising shows on December 2 and 3. Their choices swing between Jazz Utsav 2006 and Bunny Brunel & the Jazz All Stars.

The organisers of both shows have expressed regret over the clash of dates. Says Thadani, “Jazz Utsav might draw more people because it is a free event, but the fact that the other event is on the same night is very sad for the jazz crowd in Mumbai.

It’s disheartening that jazz lovers will have to choose.” While Neil Rodrigues, general manager of Pulz, host of the Bunny Brunel gig, says, “Those familiar with the artists will make sure they come, as it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I would also have loved to be there for the Jazz Utsav, but unfortunately they clash.” But perhaps this will boost the minuscule jazz scene, and the tribe of usual suspects turning up at all the shows will increase.

By Riddhi Parekh

Daniel Pearl’s jazz tunes

July 27, 2007

Mid-Day-16th November ’06

Soul Fry at Bandra, may be known for its Crispy Bombil Fry and Karaoke nights, but now the watering hole has another special to add to their board.

Angelina Jolie will be shooting part of A Mighty Heart, a film based on slain journalist Daniel Pearl’s life, at the restaurant.

“It’s true,” says owner Meldan D’Cunha. He is, however, unaware of the dates. “The unit is still in the process of obtaining a shooting permit,” he says.

“This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” guitarist Colin D’Cruz and D’Cunha had told themselves when they first met Pearl, an “easygoing” music lover, who sat alone at the bar and swayed his head to the sound of soulful jazz, in 1999. It started with nights of blues and beer and a chase to Goa before it was brought to an abrupt end.

D’Cruz recalls how Pearl listened to his band Jazz Junction’s performance with interest.

They got talking and D’Cruz invited Pearl to jam with the band, which later became a regular feature at Soul Fry. “He used to play the Blues with his unique violin, to which he had added a fifth string for bass. He never adhered to a single Blues artist,” says the musician.

A few months later when Pearl shifted base from Paris to Mumbai with his wife Mariane, he discovered that D’Cruz was playing in Goa. “He followed me to Goa so that his wife could listen to us!” laughs D’Cruz.

But it was only when D’Cunha and D’Cruz visited the couple’s Malabar Hill house, on Mariane’s birthday that they realised Pearl’s passion went beyond jazz. “He had CDs from all over the world and expensive recording equipment in his house. That’s when he told me, ‘journalism pays for my real passion’,” recalls Colin. His wife too was a percussion enthusiast.

After Pearl left for Pakistan, they kept contact through e-mails, before Pearl disappeared. Naturally, they were devastated when they read about his death. “But we will always have Soul Fry,” they say.

By Kanika Parab