HYDERABAD: Nothing beats experiencing jazz music while it’s being created. Malcom Braff’s classy combination of swing and sophistication was evident during the Green Woman concert presented by Hyderabad Western Music Foundation in collaboration with Swiss Arts Council (Pro Helvetia) in the city on Thursday. The live performance is central to the jazz aesthetic, as it is the only way to truly experience improvisation. Malcolm Braff, founder and the lead pianist of the band thinks that Indian audience is the best in the world as they understand his music the best. “They are used to improvisation that happens in Indian classical music. There is raag, taal and rhythm. But during the performance, the musician is mostly improvising on the moment inside certain rules. You have a lot of creativity inside a frame and Indian audience connect to the process and they somehow understand what we are doing. Their curiosity is definitely a boost to our performance,” says the artist who was born in Brazil and music was something that struck him at a very early age.
“I grew up in Dakar, the capital of Senegal (Africa). In my teens, I moved to Switzerland along with my parents and I have been learning piano since I was 5 with a western and classical influence. My music somehow reflects the rootless side of me because I have been a foreigner since I was a child,” he says adding that, “Growing up in Europe is quite different from that of Africa and this has always had influence on my music.” However, he is happy that he was exposed to different cultures and learning.
Claire Huguenin, the lead vocalist is thrilled to perform in here. “We all have a sense of belonging which feels special. My side of Green Woman is that I do the lyrics and melodies and I try to find a place within the music as we go and I am enjoying this experience so much. For me this is the second time in the country, the road side impressions are really good and I look forward to have some chai from the road side,” she says with a smile.
Band member, Bjorn Meyer, the bassist shares “It is a totally new setting for us; new country and new audience. Malcolm called me two years ago for this project and it’s developing every time we play. The way we are making music now, I think we are on a very good track. The concept is very clear but it is loose, you can improvise and make it better.”
Explaining why the project is interesting, drummer Lucas Koenig says, “At the first glance it may seem like normal electronic pop music. But it is actually the groove and the rhythm that makes it interesting. It appears to be normal but the real thing is that is a complex matrix and we are able to put it on track.”
While music forms the crux of a concert, visuals and trance send add a lot to the jazz experience.
Alexander Gaeng who makes the visuals shares his experience with the band. “I used to make videos for another band and there was this one time when Malcolm was at the shooting and we then started working together. I not only make videos but also make visuals, projections and we try different things. Right now, we are experimenting with generatic designs using coding so that the visuals follow the music in real time. It’s something very interesting that I am doing it for the first time,” he shares enthusiastically.
Though the band couldn’t make time to go around the city, they are impressed with the little they could experience.
“It is really like touch and go, our time in the city. But one thing about Hyderabad is that there is excellent food specially the South Indian lunch and the clear soup (Rasam) was amazing”, shares Malcolm.