For the sixteenth time since the first Jazz Yatra way back in 1978, an amazing number of Jazz lovers showed up at Mumbai's Rang Bhavan for Jazz Yatra 2002. What happens to Jazz fans in between yatras will remain one of life's biggest mysteries. The once upon a time 'Jazz by the bay' is now ready for a third name change to 'Just not Jazz by the bay!' Anyway credit goes to Mr. Niranjan Jhaveri and his Jazz-India team for reviving this great form of music every couple of years. The Jazz Yatra is now recognized globally and is on par with any of the international Jazz festivals that take place around the world. Jazz Yatra 2002 may not boast of legendry names as in the past but, as Mr. Jhaveri rightly observes, people now patronise the event more than the performers. If the performers happen to be good, well that's a bonus.
The International Jazz Yatra 2002 kicked off on the 21st of November at 7pm IST (indian standard time) instead of the 6.30pm IST (international standard time) Opening the festival and looking very lonely onstage is Japanese pianist/vocalist Akiko Koizumi. In a band situation the audience would look for coordination between band members. In a solo situation like Akiko's, i guess the audience looks for left/right hand /voice coordination. Sitting pretty at the piano, Akiko's left hand seemed to know exactly what her right hand was doing and her voice knew exactly what her hands were upto. Good solo start for the yatra.
Next onstage is the Lydia Van Dam Quintet from the Netherlands. Lady Lydia sang it all straight from the heart. This amazing vocalist could easily be the Netherland's greatest contribution to vocal jazz. And she had the right band to compliment her voice with Bart Van Lier-trombone, Berend Van Den Berg-piano, Hans Mantel-bass, John Engels-drums.
If music is a universal language Jazz is the vocabulary. Virtuoso Saxophonist George Brooks ensemble proved just that, bringing the house down along with the curtains on the Jazz Yatra's opening night. American George Brook's ensemble was made up of musicians all the way from Mumbai! It was absolutely amazing how George and our boys-Louis Banks-keyboards, Karl Peters-bass, Ranjit Barot-drums, Taufiq Qureshi-tabla/percussion and Sridhar Parthasarthy-mrindangam created music that gave the audience an impression that they'd all grownup together. It's no longer east, west, north, south, yours, mine. The George Brooks ensemble showed us how Jazz has now evolved into 'our' music.
Day two opens with Norways 'Come Shine' and how! Vocalist Live Maria Roggen was full of life shining thru the entire performance, brilliantly backed by Eriend Skomsvoll-Piano, Sondre Meisford-Bass, Hakon Mjaaaset Johansen-drums. Come Shine shone some fresh new light on tired old jazz standards that were lying in the dark.
The second half of day two featured Ytre Suloens Jass-ensemble from Norway again (day two and three is the Norwagian Jazz Yatra within the International Jazz Yatra) This band is Dixiland Jazz! Dixiland from Norway? Why not? If India can swing Norway can Dixi! Dixiland Jazz never fails to bring on a big collective smile in the audience. This is happy, infectious Jazz. Sounding particularly happy was Tuba player David Gald who blew away the bassplayer's job in the band and then blew away the crowd with some brilliant solos. Besides David the band featured Kare Nymark-trumpet, Jens Arne Molvaer-clarinet, Jan Inge-trombone, Einar Aro-banjo and Ottar Anderson-drums.
Day three featured the person responsible for starting a Jazz movement in India. Karin Krog from Norway visited India in the seventies, met Mr. Niranjan Jhaveri and the rest as they say is the history of Jazz-India. Karin sounds great. Over thirty years of singing can do amazing things to the human voice. Jacob Young on guitar was brilliant John Surman on saxophone and Terge Gewelt on bass completed the band that didn't need a drummer.
Part two features the Knut Riisnaes Quartet that shares a common bassplayer from the previous band. Knut's saxophone did all the singing at this gig. Dag Arnesen on piano and Frank Jakobsen on drums displayed flashes of brilliance throughout the set.
Time for the grand finale and opening up closing day is the Dieter Kohnlein Quartet from Germany. The band is made up of the man himself on piano. Volker Schlott on saxaphone, Rudi Engel on bass and Raj Kaczynski on drums. The band shared a great musical vibe onstage that overflowed into the audience. This is one jazz band where the members are buddies for sure!
Now for those of you still trying to figure out what is this thing called Jazz, there's Roseanna Vitro from the US of A. All you need to do is hear Roseanna doing her thing! And if you still don't get it, chances are you never will. Roseanna's backed by brilliant Bob Bowen on bass, the great Louis Banks on digital piano and the greater Adrian D'Souza on drums. Adrian is the only Indian Jazz musician who managed to establish himself as a much in demand jazz musician right in the heart of it all- NY city USA. Goes to prove nothing is really impossible for those that deserve. It's great seeing our local Mumbai musician make a mark globally as a mainstream Jazz musician. Sitting in with the band is virtuoso saxophonist George Brooks of fusion fame at opening night. Roseanna made magic onstage. And THAT's what it's all about!
And finally the finale led by our very own Jazzy Joe. This amazing saxophonist is best summed up by his daughter Pamela's moving tribute to daddy dear that appears as Jazzy Joe's profile in the Jazz Yatra 2002 souviner booklet. Pam summed it all up with 'my daddy's the best!' And Jazzy Joe took the stage to prove his daughter's point. It's amazing how age never catches up with some musicians. This seventy plus musician goes onstage to party like it's his twentyfirst birthday! Partying onstage with Jazz Joe were Rupak Kulkarni-basuri, Kalinath Mishra-tabla, Blasco Monsorate-trombone, Aninha Lobo-digital piano, Michael Gracias-bass, Roger Menezes-drums, Gino Banks-drums, Jehangir Jehangir-saxaphone, Jasmine Jehangir-trumpet, Percy Mistry-trumpet,Kirandip Swani-saxophone, Nakul Mehta-saxophone, Anand Vaity-saxophone, Rajeev Kothari-saxophone, Milind sangiani-saxophone, Mona Sangiani-flute, Vaman Apte-trombone...until the next Yatra then, i'm going back into the woodwork!