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Jazz by the bay

Published : Aug 16, 2018, 12:18 am IST
Updated : Aug 16, 2018, 12:18 am IST

An international jazz quartet enthralled the audiences with their high- energy rhythms of bebop, hard bop and modern jazz.

Every note sung in raga has a very emotional effect, and the moment you put it in the chord, it is not Indian Classical music any more.
 Every note sung in raga has a very emotional effect, and the moment you put it in the chord, it is not Indian Classical music any more.

In a concert held yesterday at NCPA, Pradyumna Singh Manot, along with his newly formed quartet Take 5.1 enthralled the audience to the high-energy rhythms of bebop, hard bop and modern jazz. The artist is one of the few Indians exploring Latin Jazz music on the piano. For any Jazz enthusiast, the name Take 5.1 takes you to a very familiar jazz memory of the masterpiece Take Five by Dave Brubeck Quartet.

Talking about the spin on the name of their quartet, Pradyumna says, “If you ask any band what was the most difficult part of forming a band, it won’t be to find good musicians, instead it would be to find a good name for it. So when NCPA suggested Take Four, a spin on Take Five and also since ours is a quartet, it would have been just too obvious. So we went with 5.1.”  

Take 5.1 comprises of Pradyumna on piano, Megan Powers from the USA on vocals, Sava Boyadzhiev of Bulgaria on drums and Aditya Servaia aka Sonic Shori on bass. Even though the quartet has two international members, for Pradyumna to arrange these musicians to come together wasn’t a task. He met the New York-based jazz singer Megan in Kolkata when she was working for New Light, an NGO that works with the victims of human trafficking. He says, “She does both music and social work as these are her passions.” The duo met and started performing together at concerts. “Then, she went back to the US and we kept in touch. When this opportunity came up, I asked her to  join me.” The pianist met Aditya and music teacher Sava in Delhi. Talking about the members, he says, “I have individually performed with these musicians a number of times. As Jazz musicians, we know each other’s language and how to communicate through the language of jazz.”

Explaining the genre that’s his forte, Pradyumna shares how Latin music originating from the Caribbean and South America mixes with Jazz originating from the African-American communities, to form the Latin Jazz form. He says, “Latin music, in general, has a very different kind of rhythm. They share a connection with jazz, as the rhythms for the Latin and Jazz music, comes from Africa. When we play Latin Jazz music, we play improvisations and harmony over Latin rhythms, and that becomes Latin jazz music,” says Pradyumna, who has studied North Indian Classical music for three years.

He is also trained in tabla under Ustad Sabir Khan of the Farrukhabad Gharana and vocal music under Kumar Mukherjee and Ustad Raza Ali Khan of the Patiala Gharana. Although the possibility of fusing of two distinct styles may seem appealing, Pradyumna doesn’t vouch for it. Elaborating on the same, he says, “Every music has a different way of expressing the rhythm. The first clash will be at the rhythm itself because the rhythm of jazz is not like Indian music’s.” Adding to the issues, he says, “Moreover, Jazz uses harmony a lot, and Indian Classical gets destroyed when you bring harmony in it. If you play chords to raga, the essence of raga is completely lost. Every note sung in raga has a very emotional effect, and the moment you put it in the chord, it is not Indian Classical music any more. It is not for me.”    

For him, the two distinct worlds of music have similarities because both the forms are open to improvisations, and also because the members of the jazz quartets and Indian Classical groups don’t call themselves a ‘band’. He says, “If you listen to jazz music, you will realise that it is more about improvisations and reactions. Similarly, when Indian Classical musicians play, they know what’s going to happen, so we don’t call them a band. So ours is similar in that sense,” he signs off.

Tags: latin jazz, jazz music, classical musicians