The soothing voice of Monica Akihary supplemented with jazzy chords by Neils Brouwer on the acoustic guitar greeted us as we entered the open lawns of 1AQ, Mehrauli, on Friday evening. Amsterdam-based jazz and world music duo Boi Akih were here to perform at the Jazz Weekender India organised by Jazz in India—a virtual resource platform that attempts to build the community by developing jazz initiatives across the country.
Jazz Weekender India is a three-day event—it will continue till May 1—that celebrates International Jazz Day today. The lawns of 1AQ had been decorated with dainty lights as the audience stayed seated on the ground in front of the stage. Pawan from Defence Colony, who was attending the event with his daughter Mehr (6), mentioned that this was a great way to introduce his daughter to the culture of concerts and jazz. Mehr seemed enthralled by Gino Banks’ beats. Pawan added, “It is wonderful to have such events where we get to hear different voices. Some might have been sceptical about the open-air venue in this weather, but I think it is great.”
Myriad sounds of pleasure
Known to have been developed in New Orleans in the beginning of the 20th Century, jazz has, over the years, graduated from Louis Armstrong’s raspy voice and Miles Davis’ unique sound on the trumpet. In fact, it has influenced other musical genres such as hip hop, blues, and even rock. “Jazz has so many different colours and sounds under it. There is a timelessness to the genre, and being able to introduce and create awareness about it felt like a good way to go,” shares Tanish Thakker (38), director, Gatecrash Music Agency, and current editor, Jazz In India.
This event was a way to showcase the various soundscapes that exist within the genre; 11 artistes will be taking the stage over the course of this festival. “The curation was to find a good balance between traditional jazz as well as contemporary music,” explains Thakker. The artistes include Tribemama Marykali, a Kochi-based composer whose music features RnB tones; New Delhi-based six-piece band Pakshee—they blend Indian Carnatic music with rock; among others. Brouwer mentioned, “Sound wise, it was slightly difficult. Acoustic instruments do not always work in such events, I feel.” However, there was no doubt that the duo’s energetic set won the heart of the audience. There was also a jugalbandi performance by Rhythm Shaw and Mumbai-based jazz drummer Gino Banks on day one.
Speaking of the set that they will perform on Sunday, Gautam David (22), the saxophonist from Till.Apes, a hip-hop and neo-soul outfit from Bengaluru, shared, “We’ve got a pretty action-packed set that is going to keep the audience on their feet from start to finish.” We also spoke to Grégoire Pignede—a 26-year-old bass player from Berlin-based cosmic jazz trio Triorität—who will perform today. Pignede concluded, “Jazz events around the world can become a place for people to find common ground. There is great value in these events that goes beyond just the music.”