QUEEN’S ROAD: Bengaluru-based ensemble MoonArra is getting head to Morocco at the beginning of the next month to perform on the opening and closing days at Tanjazz Festival in Tangiers.
The world-jazz-Indian-classical fusion band is no stranger to the international jazz festival circuits.
“We have performed at Java Jazz Festival held in Jakarta in 2009, at the Bangkok Jazz festival in 2010 and the World Music Festival organised by Lewis Pragasam in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia in 2010,” says founding member, composer and guitarist Jagadeesh M R. “But this is the first time we’re performing in this part of the world.”
The core members, Jagadeesh, wife Madhuri (vocalist and song-writer), Prakash Sontakke (slide guitar player, composer and vocalist) and Karthik Subramanya (Mani) (drummer and percussionist), began performing together about 10 years ago.
“We used to perform at venues like Alliance Francaise, and we realised that we had a similar approach to music,” he says.
So they decided to form a band and name it three rivers, after the three streams of music that find representation in its sound. “That’s what moon aara means in Tamil and Malayalam. We’ve just anglicised it.”
The artistes mostly compose their own songs, and have already brought out an album, Indian Accent, and are working on another.
About the creative process of composition, Jagadeesh says, “When one of us has an idea, we share it when we meet, and each one adds his or her inputs.” Then they play it.
“And once we begin playing, we get more and more comfortable with it, and add on bits.” Sometimes, play covers, which they adopt to their own style.
On the closing day, for a session titled India Meets Africa, MoonArra is to collaborate with African band Gnawa Express, and is excited about it.
“Their sound is traditional, so we’ll have work around it so that we are all comfortable,” Jagadeesh says. As of now, the plan is to work with ready compositions.
The opportunity to jam with this band as well as at the fest is an honour that the four artistes feel deeply about.
“We are taking Indian music — with classical and a bit of folk — to an international audience,” the guitarist says.
The band has a couple more gigs to play before they leave for the jazz fest — one at Freedom Jam on August 16 and at Blue Frog on August 30.