Archive for March, 2010

Out of the Blue!…Small World Encounters-Part 2

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Water Lily at the Botanical Gardens in Kolkata

KOLKATA

January 17-23 (with a trip to Kharagpur in the middle)

We had two major concerts in Kolkata, the first at the Music School organized by Ajoy Ray and the second at the Dalhousie Institute sponsored by the famed “Congo Square” a non-profit society for jazz and blues in India. The people there were serious jazz fans like Ajoy, thay give me hope for the future of jazz (at least in India!)…thank you Kalyan Kamal Roy and Surjay Yoy Choudhury! We look forward to seeing and playing for you again.

At the Dalhousie concert Ajoy introduced me to an American sax player (Steve Gorn) from Brooklyn at the end of a music tour who played the Indian bamboo flute named the Bansuri…what a surprise! I asked him to sit in with us and his sound was so beautiful and so complimentary to our sound and vibe we all knew that this was a special happening! I am sure that will be just the first of more collaborations to come!

The first tune we played was my original, “Beginner’s Mind”-a kind of South American 6/8 in C minor. I would love to post a video from this concert but am waiting for the professionally produced DVD to be sent from India. Please check back periodically and join my mailing list on my website for updates about the blog.

BUT in the meantime Please check out his website: www.stevegorn.com! His biography is amazing with a long and beautiful story of musical inspiration and exploration going back to the 1960’s.

Kolkata style Taxis

Kolkata pedicab

Traffic Jam-Kolkata

Another SMALL WORLD connection is that there is another American sax player who is a virtuoso on the Bansuri! (Carl Clements-www.carlclements.com). And I believe he also knows Steve. I met him just a month before this tour started–he moved to my neighborhood up in Massachusetts from Brooklyn!!! I had him to dinner and found out he would be in India at the same time (to study with his master and play some gigs)–alas, we were crisscrossing and never met there but what are the odds that I would meet two of the greatest bansuri/jazz sax players in the world in just one month who lived by me in the U.S. and went to India at the same time…?!

Each international tour a undertake broadens my world to distant lands

…this one widened my world back at home!

Good Luck Charm

Out of the Blue!…Small World Encounters

Friday, March 19th, 2010

We should have known how magical our trip would be from the first days when we met a special friend out of the blue. It started out with some bad news: A major politician in the history of West Bengal had died. Jyoti Basu had been a leader in the Communist Party (popularly elected) for decades and led the State for a record 23 years–leading 5 consecutive Left front governments. His death was a blow that caused grief throughout the State and an official mourning period of two days. As a result our first concert was canceled.

Instead of the concert we went to a party hosted by one of the main jazz fans in Kolkata (or Calcutta as he would say!). Mr. Ajoy Ray, who has seen and met every jazz musician who’s come through town since the 70’s!–The nicest guy with pictures of so many in his house (Kenny Barron, Steve Turre, Ted Curson, etc)… We walk through the door and who’s there? One of the most famous tabla players in the NY scene, Badal Roy…”surprise!” he said.

Badal, Gilad and Me

I should let you know I met Badal in August last year and recorded a CD with him, Lewis Porter (piano) and Karttikeya (percussion) in September. That was an honor for me and it was an honor he came to surprise us while he was visiting his mother in Kolkata. You can catch him performing with some amazing musicians–last month I saw him play with Dave Liebman at Birdland in NYC. He’s played and recorded with John McGlaughlin and Miles Davis (check out “On The Corner!”)…our new CD is called “Darma Jazz” and you can find it on Amazon and CD Baby.

Ajoy (serious Jazz FAN!), Me and Miles!

Here’s a little tease (only 15 seconds-oh well, the camera ran out of batteries!) of us playing “Watermelon Man” with Gilad’s usual living room party-percussion instrument!

It turned out that some of our best friends from back home in Amherst, MA were also visiting their family!

the celebration of  Saraswati Puja, the Goddess of Knowledge and the Arts!

…ah! Maybe this auspicious beginning was the source of our magical tour?

Priest and Saraswati Puja

Saraswati Puja with her Veena

 

Saraswati represents the “free flow of wisdom and consciousness…the daughter of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga, she plays with two of her four hands the music of love and life on a stringed instrument called the veena.” (Subhamoy Das for About.com)

India!

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

The massive scope of this wonderful tour has been a constant inspiration to me with this blog BUT has also introduced a bit of intimidation…we’ve been to so many unique, beautiful and exciting places, experienced so much and met so many people–I want to do it justice and give an accurate sense of these five weeks in this blog. But our stay in India alone was overwhelming!

I can say that it was powerful, beautiful, inspiring, moving, challenging and magical as honestly as anyone can use those clichés we take for granted. We met new and old friends and musicians from home unexpectedly, jammed with traditional Indian musicians, worked with school children, performed in wonderful venues and visited the historic Gandhi Ashram and the slum where they do their inspirational work. And besides all the amazing sights, sounds and food we ate as “Jazz Ambassadors” we also had a few times to be tourists and went to the Taj Majal–a day trip that one would need a month to accurately describe!

Saraswati Puja in Kolkata