In­dian vis­i­tors help to bridge the genre gap

Shubha Mud­gal, Sandy Evans, Sirens Big Band City Recital Hall, Syd­ney, Jan­uary 12.

The Australian - - ARTS - ERIC MY­ERS

This sold-out con­cert was the cul­mi­na­tion of a monumental pro­ject in meld­ing In­dian mu­sic and Western jazz. More than 1000 peo­ple, alive to a spe­cial sense of oc­ca­sion, re­acted en­thu­si­as­ti­cally to the mu­sic, con­tribut­ing to the gen­eros­ity of spirit in the air.

Twenty-three mu­si­cians were packed on to the stage. They in­cluded the Syd­ney tabla player Bobby Singh plus two In­dian vis­i­tors, Aneesh Prad­han (tabla), and Sud­hir Nayak (har­mo­nium). Be­hind them was the rhythm sec­tion of the Sirens Big Band. The third In­dian vis­i­tor, Hin­dus­tani clas­si­cal singer Shubha Mud­gal, took cen­tre stage. Prin­ci­pal com­poser Sandy Evans con­ducted, fac­ing the au­di­ence when play­ing her sax­o­phone so­los. The horn play­ers in the big band were si­t­u­ated to the right, on el­e­vated tiers.

The reper­toire came from the re­cent al­bum Bridge of Dreams. The mod­er­ate vol­ume at which Evans’s in­no­va­tive or­ches­tra­tions were played largely en­abled the mu­sic to over­come the CRH’s no­to­ri­ously poor acous­tics for jazz.

The three In­dian mu­si­cians, all supreme im­pro­vis­ers, showed how nat­u­rally their artistry is suited to jazz. They also demon­strated how adroitly and sub­tly they could build their en­ergy level, en­abling the mu­sic to flare and open out­wards, thereby lift­ing the spirit of the lis­tener.

Beam, Arch, Sus­pen­sion, com­posed by Evans and Prad­han, showed how clev­erly the two gen­res could be seam­lessly jux­ta­posed. It in­cluded a vo­cal in­tro­duc­tion from Mud­gal and a bril­liant har­mo­nium solo from Nayak, who flew ef­fort­lessly over a com­pli­cated time-sig­na­ture. A slightly dif­fer­ent rhyth­mic feel un­der­pinned a lyri­cal solo from trum­peter Ellen Kirk­wood. Mud­gal’s haunt­ing vo­cal re-en­try was fol­lowed by a spir­ited solo from bassist Jes­sica Dunn, who built up a head of steam and in­ter­acted beau­ti­fully with drum­mer Ali Foster. After an or­ches­tral in­ter­lude, a har­mo­nium riff un­der­pinned an elec­tri­fy­ing tabla solo from Prad­han. It drew huge ap­plause and fore­shad­owed what was to come.

Tabla Spi­ral, an­other Evans/ Prad­han work, was also a high­light. Be­gin­ning with a lovely pi­ano solo, Grat­i­tude, from pi­anist Zela Mar­gos­sian, it led into a per­cus­sive ver­bal recita­tion from Singh and Prad­han. Evans’s score en­abled the band to echo the tabla fig­ures. The two tabla play­ers con­cluded with some scin­til­lat­ing in­ter­ac­tion, which in­creased in en­ergy and ex­cite­ment and built to a crowd-pleas­ing cli­max.

For Evans this was her night of nights, tes­ti­mony to her vi­sion that In­dian mu­sic and Western jazz can live to­gether, without ei­ther genre be­ing re­quired to com­pro­mise its es­sen­tial char­ac­ter.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.