Arild Andersen is a cult figure in Norwegian and International jazz. His association with Tommy Smith, one of the illustrious saxophonist of Europe and Paolo Vinacca , the internationally acclaimed drummer has created an unbeatable trio in the world of Jazz. Their first album ‘Life at Belleville’ took the Jazz world by storm and Arild Andersen received the European Jazz Musician of the year 2008 award from the Academie Du Jazz in France. The trio is on its third visit to the country on a SPIC MACAY invitation when Deepsha Rath catches up for an interaction. Excerpts:
What similarities and differences do you find between Indian classical music and Jazz?
Arild: European Jazz is only hundred years old. But Indian classical music is ancient. To create a greater melody, western music liberated itself and incorporated various streams of music from folk to tribal. Jazz is a kind of music of liberation. Improvisation of sound is the common thread in Jazz and Indian Ragas. In Indian music one gets a lot of liberty to experiment and elaborate but in Jazz, the scope is limited by the scale.
How familiar are you with Indian Music?
Arild: Oh I enjoy Indian music but have not not heard many artistes. I like Talat, Zakir Hussain and Shankar’s music a lot. I love the music of tabla and in one of my albums I have used it. But again I never tried to understand music, I always felt it. I never received any formal degree on music. I am a qualified engineer.
Paolo: I have played tabla and worked with Pakistani artist Soukat Ali Khan. I have bought some Indian drums and planning to buy more. The best part in Indian drummers is they make melody and music together. That’s the dream of any drummer of Jazz.
What is the effect of globalisation on music scenario?
Arild : In the last 50 years there is a new development due to globalisation - now everyone can hear everyone’s music. That is certainly influencing but at the same time it eliminates many of folk and tribal musical genres and for that emphasis must be given on musical heritage.
Tommy: Like you can find a Coca Cola can in Kazakhstan or Pakistan. Music has transcended the boundaries.
Other than music what more do you like about India?
Tommy: Indian Cuisine. There was an interesting survey in my country and Chicken Tikka Masala was voted the most popular food surpassing our national food.
How do you find Indian audience and more particularly Odisha listeners receiving Jazz?
Arild: The other day we were playing in Miranda House. It was for the young audience. They responded with lot of excitement. We felt that they understood the nuances of Jazz.
Tommy: Playing in a land of others is a bit difficult. But in India and Pakistan we found the audience very receptive. Particularly they appreciated the improvisation. And that is because a similar musical tradition prevails in India and Pakistan.
Tommy has a musical composition named after Odisha. Is it true ?
Tommy: It is not related to Odisha but the song is named after Odisha. I got this word from Youtube while browsing and came across Karama Dance, a tribal form of dancing in Odisha. And this word struck me. I wanted to use it in my album. But later when Arild Andersen asked me to join him for India tour and suggested to visit Odisha I was surprised. I found the coincidence very spooky… ( he says with a laugh)