Monday, April 11, 2011

Delhi Jazz Festival

This year, ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) embarked on a new venture, in assocation with Seher (a group that has been organizing free music and dance performances in Delhi).  They invited six international and three Indian jazz groups to participate in a three day jazz festival in Delhi.  The performances, free for all, were held in Nehru Park - one of the large and beautifully laid out parks of the city.  I went yesterday, to meet and hear my Bangalorean friend, Amit Heri, and his group play.

The park was lit up by fairy lights- tiny glowing bulbs that marked the way to a large, venerable tree, strung with lanterns, beneath which the musicians were to play.  Chairs had been laid out and next to them, thick waterproof sheets, on which people could sit.  However, eventually the place was so crowded that many people stood along the sides, listening to the music. 

The music began shortly after sunset.  The sky was a purple grey until it darkened and the moon rose.  The night air smelt of - mosquito repellant!  Not too nasty though and it definitely kept the bugs away.

There were three bands, playing for an hour each.  We heard the Ekkehard Wolk Trio, a Berlin based contemporary jazz group, with several of its compositions based on classical pieces and others inspired by literature or the city of Berlin.  It was a treat to hear a proper piano on stage (after ages!)  They were followed by the Amit Heri group, who played several of his jazz compositions.  Amit is a guitarist and composer and often experiments with Indian sounds in his own style of jazz.  He also has a very nice energy on stage which permeates to the other (somewhat changing set of) very accomplished musicians who play along with him.  The last group, Trio AAB+Clandemonium, a Scottish band was performing along with some Indian musicians, but by then we had to leave.  We saw some of their performance at home, on the computer, as it was being shown live through the internet.

The festival had a wonderful atmosphere; the venue and weather were perfect (though the Berlin group did find it a bit warm, more like summer than spring they said!) and the audience appreciative.  ICCR announced that they would probably make this an annual affair, which would be wonderful indeed!  Music played outdoors has its own distinct charm, I think.

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