Dave Weckl's gig for Jazz Circuit India, Delhi, was a master-class in skill and technique

On what was possibly the last nippy Sunday evening of the city's winter, a congregation gathered at a swanky South Delhi venue to watch one of the world's greatest living drummers perform the headlining set of Teamwork Arts’ Jazz India Circuit. The legendary Dave Weckl has a God-like status amongst musicians and it was truly a special night for all jazz enthusiasts and live music fans in the capital.

The two-day music festival was part of a series of concerts announced by Teamwork Arts last year, aimed at sharing and celebrating the smooth, sweet sounds of this beloved musical genre. This particular edition featured a mixed lineup of homegrown and international artists — young multi-instrumentalist Rhythm Shaw, Karan Khosla Trio from New Delhi, John Law’s Congregation from the UK, Alex Jønsson from Denmark and world music collective The Diaspora House — not to mention of course, the main highlight of the show, Dave Weckl.

At Teamwork Arts’ Jazz India Circuit gig in Delhi over the February 16-17 weekend

At Teamwork Arts’ Jazz India Circuit gig in Delhi over the February 16-17 weekend

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Dave Weckl takes to the stage

Dave Weckl takes to the stage

Weckl was accompanied on stage by Absandey, a band made up of Indian musicians well known in the scene — bass guitar prodigy Mohini Dey, jazz fusion pianist Joe Johnson, Sandeep Mohan on guitar and Abhijith PS Nair on violin, the latter who collaborated with Weckl on his international instrumental jazz fusion album titled Saraswati At Montreux. The titular track of that album was the perfect opening to what was going to be an hour-and-a-half long masterclass in technique and skill.

Weckl performed a couple of songs he had recorded with his long time collaborator, guitarist and fellow legend, Mike Stern as well as other jazz tunes, all peppered with extended jazz jams and intoxicating solos. The set was groovy and melodic, polished to perfection, woven together with the effortless flow of a craftsman who has reached his full and final maturity. Weckl draws in his audience not merely by his technical mastery but rather, by rhythmically tapping them right in the feels.

He tried ending the night with a 10-minute solo piece that had certain members of the audience (like me!) on their feet trying to catch every last little ghost note and flam. Every hit of the snare or hi-hat meant something and elevated the mood of the night. The crowd however, still not sated, demanded an encore and he wrapped up his set with a special version of Spain, a well-known jazz tune recorded by his mentor Chick Corea.

For many musicians, drummers in particular, honing their craft in the post-90s era, Dave Weckl’s instructional videos — “Back To Basics” and “The Next Step” — are a stepping stone and pretty much a rite of passage into the wonderful world of performing. So, as one would imagine, it was almost surreal just to be in the presence of such greatness. It was an evening I would trade for nothing at all.


Updated Date: Feb 23, 2018 13:22 PM

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