Jazzfest 2018: On Day 2, Adrien Brandeis, Rohan Ganguli, Jerome Klein showcase an extensive range of sounds and styles

Diya Katyal

Dec 02, 2018 14:37:31 IST

“The first band I ever heard at the Jazzfest was the Scott Kinsey band and it was a mind-altering experience for me,” says Subhagata Singha (Rivu), one of the city’s most promising young musicians. “I was in class eight and at that time I only really thought about rock music. I had never seen any live jazz until then. But watching a whole band improvise on stage blew my mind! I immediately fell in love with the festival and I realised that it’s been happening for so long – it’s a running tradition. After that, I just kept coming back every year."

While I chatted with Rivu, another of the city’s favourite homegrown musicians, Rohan Ganguli, was gearing up for his set. Ganguli has played across genres; most notably, he was part of the rock band Supersonics as well as a blues musician and has toured the country’s major festivals. He told me, “This festival has a different vibe completely. It’s all about spontaneity and improvisation and you never know what’s going to happen. In the other festivals, you can kind of anticipate. I have been coming to this festival since forever and I love it here. I’ve seen [John] Mclaughlin play here and all my heroes, so it’s a big deal for me to be up there on this stage.”

 Jazzfest 2018: On Day 2, Adrien Brandeis, Rohan Ganguli, Jerome Klein showcase an extensive range of sounds and styles

The Rohan Ganguli Ensemble. All images courtesy Jazzfest 2018

The Rohan Ganguli Ensemble certainly didn’t disappoint when they took the stage. In fact, were super slick. Kicking off on an energetic note with a funky number, their sound got more edgy and cerebral as they performed. Building up their set perfectly, they had their audience getting more and more enthralled with every piece they played.

As I looked around, taking in guitar guru Amyt Datta and other familiar faces in the crowd, it hit me just how many musicians were part of the audience. My conversations with both Rivu and Ganguli reverberated in my mind as I began to understand the deep and long-term impact the Jazzfest has had on the music scene of the city. In its own way, it has played a part in shaping a generation of musicians and the way they think about music and composition.

Rivu said that the Jazzfest made him realise “the importance of writing cerebral music.” He noted that “the thrill of playing music that is intricate at every level and that is always changing and always evolving" is something he was first exposed to here. It struck me that the other young jazz musicians who were listening spellbound were absorbing ideas and influences as they watched, and exchanging notes with their fellow musicians from across the world before and between sets – an invaluable learning and growing experience.

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Adrien Brandeis

The other two bands that performed on day two were Adrien Brandeis Quintet from France and the Klein from Luxembourg. Though they were both distinctly different they were both equally captivating. With such an abundance of quality music, it’s impossible to pick favourites.

Brandeis and his Quintet had kicked off day two with a sound that was melodious, fluid and seamless. Their suave touch would have had the most hardened purists in the audience swooning in the aisles. Curious to know a little about his process, I spoke to Brandeis after his performance, and he said his music had many influences: “Latin, Brazilian, Cuban, French and a lot of free jazz. There is a lot of change and improvisation. The CD is very different from the live act because only the head is written and the rest is improvised, and every night is different.” It’s his first trip to India and he has travelled around the country, going to Delhi and Mumbai before finally hitting the Jazzfest. He mentioned that the country has fed his creativity in many ways, opening him up to ideas and new possibilities. One such example was when he heard a blind violinist playing at a metro station. He was so moved by the performance that he recorded it so that he could revisit it over time. He also said that he studied musicology and has learnt to “analyse Tabla and Tanpura” and wants to incorporate these influences into his next album to add a new layer to the music.


Jerome Klein

Bringing the evening to a close was Jerome Klein who introduced a very distinct flavour to the festival. His music was dark, textured and atmospheric. It was kind of electronic-meets-jazz, unlike anything I am used to listening to, with an ultra-modern, almost futurist, feel to it. Eerie and compelling all at once.

Day 2 brought us a wide range of sounds and styles, from the more traditional to the futuristic. I left wondering what surprises lay in wait for us on the third and final day.

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Updated Date: Dec 02, 2018 14:37:31 IST