JIC Goa International Jazz Live Festival: In conversation with Jojo Mayer, Erik Truffaz, Lindsay Dmello
The artists performing at the JIC Goa International Jazz Live Festival spoke to Firstpost about their influences and the experience of playing in India
Driving back late into Sunday night, with the soundtrack of the newly acquired Jojo Mayer/Nerve CD playing in the car was the smoothest transition to reality from the haze of the recently concluded JIC Goa International Jazz Live Festival. It was spread across 9 and 10 December, but musically it was a weekend that packed with much more than one could have imagined. It was two days of listening and watching electrifying chemistry and collaborations on stage. It was an experience that transported the audiences into a space where jazz, electronica and hip-hop ruled fantasies.
After walking down the winding road inside the Stone Water Eco resort (home to this festival), a stunning view of the rugged sea and a faraway ship set the prefect tone for the first afternoon. Early visitors were welcomed by the sunset and the alluring strains of the first sound-check. I personally love sound-checks; they give a preview of the silent stage conversations between band members and a quick introduction into the configuration of a band. They give a sense of what the band will play and capture them in an informal setting. As Vasundhara Vee finishes her sound-check, I see the organisers at Teamwork Arts going back to ensure that everything is in place. There is an energy in their work and it’s a pleasure to look at the young, enthusiastic team put together several music festivals driven by the love for music and everything else that a music festival is meant to embody.
I almost feel guilty about inviting Sanjoy Roy and Avik Roy for a quick conversation about the festival, which is one of several that they have organised together. Avik Roy tells me that the festival is curated with support from several people, particularly Gatecrash founded by Emmanuelle De Decker, a consulting agency that specialises in international touring bands in India along with promoting jazz initiatives.
By now, it was the last of the soundchecks, and DCF headlined by Lindsay Dmello was preparing to go on stage. In our chat, Lindsay talked about the genius of Madfingers — the late Karan Joseph — and about how times were different when the concert, which involved a collaboration between the two, was being planned. Their set was a tribute to Madfingers, and the three of them had managed to prepare the set despite living in three cities, the gloom of a recent death and every hurdle that a musician would otherwise face. Despite everything, it was still a happy moment, just as music festivals are meant to be.
The artist lounge was already filled with artists as well friends who poured in early to make the most of the ambience. In the warmth of the artist lounge bassist Pol Belardi and the Urban 5 sat around discussing the notations and the final song list of the day. As a band they were playing with fewer members than they usually do back in Luxembourg, and they were anxious to get everything in order. The concert had an interesting mix of jazz and rap performed by vocalist Mara Minjoli. Their previous album Urban Voyage was received well, and their live set had the audiences tapping their feet to the quick rap.
By now the festival-goers had filled up the beautiful lawns and the whiff of pork ribs from the food stalls had the created the perfect evening vibe. Just then, Kefaya, my favorite act of the day began playing. The band's name means 'enough' in Arabic — a phrase associated with the Arab spring. This band brought in the most exciting new sound I have heard in a while by combining the guitar, keyboard, ragas and the narrative of global protest. It reminded me of the early phase of an Indian band we knew once but Kefaya brought with it a radical sound which was an interesting cross-cultural interpretation of jazz and protest. The band had the entire audience grooving and received a standing ovation. The night after their gig, as I was trying to buy the band's CD, both Kefaya's member Al and i were duly informed that all their CDs had sold out.
The evening ended with Vasundhara Vee’s enthralling voice; the singer has had quite a few interesting collaborations and has been a favorite with music festivals.
The sound check had a different mood, as Erik Truffaz arrived just in time after his show at the Jazz Fest in Calcutta. The soft-spoken Truffaz was a pleasure to watch directing and performing during the soundcheck. Around the lounge Kolkata band The Latination mingled with the other musicians, and their act was interesting in its Latin jazz style.
Florian Favre Trio opened the second day of the festival. By the time French Trumpeter Erik Truffaz came on stage with Neil Gomes, Anand Bhagat and Shadab Kadri (Riatsu) the sound had transformed into an infusion of trumpet, electronic music and hip-hop along with a surprise in the form of a stunning version of Sant Kabir’s 'Jhini'.
The star of the festival and one of the 50 best drummers of the world, Jojo Mayer and Nerve collective were also around soaking in the music and the seaside breeze. They were going to be closing act of the festival and they said their music is not what you think it will be. Evolving from the New York 'Prohibited Beats' party scene, Nerve was all about redefining form and style and the deconstruction of sound.
Jojo Mayer's reverse drumming, dance and electronica left the dance floor in front of the stage filled with people. In that moment, the blue and red lights and music made it seem like Nerve had transformed the space into an iconic New York warehouse dance party. Though the night and festival both ended, I left richer because of the CDs I bought, as I wait for the next edition of the JIC Goa International Jazz Live Festival to come.
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