Archive for the ‘Hyderabad’ Category

Prince Sachin Tendulkar Bryant!

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

My last post ended with some humor inspiring a comment by the wonderful musician Jaywant Naidu from Hyderabad:

“Hi Prince Sachin Tendulkar of Chowmahalla palace. Enjoying the photos and cute music created by us.”

In reference to the following picture:

Promting this response: “Ah!…you have discovered the secret! Brilliant!…I’ll find a genealogist to find Sachin’s and my royal ancestors! We must be related!”

My African and English heritage (both sides with a couple hundred years history in the U.S.–Georgia and Connecticut) has given me looks that can be mistaken from many different countries and cultures. Growing up in NYC I was often mistakenly believed to be Puerto Rican or Dominican. Now that I play Brazilian music people expect that I have that background (I love to fool them into believing I am from Bahia!–someday, maybe I will be!).

In 2003 I did a tour of 9 countries in 7 weeks: Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Oman, Turkey and India. In all the countries up until India people asked me if my heritage was from there (that actually shocked me!). But I thought this would all stop when I went to India…to my surprise there were two Indian women at my last concert in Oman who told me about this famous cricket player, Sachin Tendulkar whom they said was my spitting image. “Sachin who?” I asked…”Sachin Tendulkar, the Michael Jordan of cricket” they exclaimed!

I could not believe it and soon forgot about it on the plane trip to Mumbai. After arriving in the hotel lobby a beautiful nine year old girl came up to me with her mother and asked for my autograph. Without thinking I said “great, the Embassy must be doing some good publicity with the Jazz Ambassador program!” She looked at me and her mother with utter disappointment…I was not whom she thought I was and they just walked away! I was confused too until I remembered Sachin Tendulkar!

Returning to India seven years later I can say that the situation is still the same:


These cute girls came up to me at Chowmahalla Palace (Hyderabad) and asked me if I knew I looked like Sachin. I should have said “yes, he’s my brother” which I’m sure would have fooled them!

Sachin Girls!

Actually, when I drive around and look at the huge billboards of Sachin or see his pic in the paper or on TV I really don’t see it, but I guess I’m getting used to it.

So, what do you think? Check out the video below and tell me! Maybe I can get a job being his double when he’s too tired to go to another party or autograph session!

Sachin Tendulkar or Freddie Bryant

Schools in Hyderabad

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

January 25th

We visited two schools this day and flew that evening to Ahmedabad. I like to mention all the schools I visit and post pics and videos. It is an avenue of communication that can progress over time. Some schools and students don’t have internet but these posts will be up indefinitely and someday I hope all the students will be able to look back and enjoy the time we had together. Also, if you’re a student out there you should know I am always open to answering any questions you have. So just contact me through a comment on this blog or go directly to my website. I know the internet will not be a satisfying as our visit but you never know, I might get back there someday!

Actually I also have a more personal reason  motivating me. I have two daughters (10, 14). They are a big inspiration to me and when I am far from them I am always thinking about them especially when I am working with kids their ages. Of all the work I do I think they are most excited by the children and they’re curious about kids their age in other countries with unfamiliar cultures. So check these out Nia and Serena!

The first school has a long name: Andhra Mahila Sabha – P. Obul Reddy Public School!

We played a concert and had the pleasure of playing a song with Jaywant and Prehinder! (check out the jam session we had the previous night-posted earlier). There were also some questions from the students at the end. BUT what I’ll remember most from this visit were the student musical performances. They were so enthusiastic about playing for us and we were very appreciative.

A student choir welcomed us:

After we played there was a trio of students who unfortunately didn’t make it into the program due to lack of time. They asked us if they could play for us and even though we were due downstairs for an official lunch (see the South Indian food below!) we could not refuse. They set up their instruments on the floor and began:

Student trio-Hyderabad

Srikar – Harmonium

Narayanan – Mridangem

Rahul Das – percussion and drums

Freddie, Preminder, Jaywant and Gilad

The feast at P. Obul Reddy Public School. Note: that is not a donut! It is a savory fried lentils called Vada/Garelu

Principle, cooks-our hosts at P.Obul Reddy Public School

The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan School was our next visit. Their veena players performed this song for us:

Out of the Blue!…Small World Encounters-Part 3

Friday, March 19th, 2010


January 24-25, 2010

This was another short trip but it was full. We had two wonderful stops at schools, played with our first Indian Classical musicians to date on this tour AND met another neighbor!

Let’s hear it for Brooklyn, NY and Amherst, MA!…if you’re counting so far in India we’ve met one amazing sax and bansuri player who lives in Brooklyn, one amazing sax and bansuri player who lived in Brooklyn and moved to Amherst a month before the tour and two old friends who have lived in Amherst for years…

Now, we were completely blindsided to hear that there is a gentleman on a speakers tour for the US Embassy who is from Northampton, MA-just 20 minutes from my home! He works for Miriam Webster Dictionaries and was lecturing about American dictionaries–ok, now it seems to be moving away from the jazz theme…but wait, he turns out to be a regular jazz DJ on two of our local stations at home! Peter Sokolowski-another jazz connection bumming around India! He was on the same circuit-we even met again in New Delhi.

Peter came over to the hotel to listen to a jam session that was organized with Gilad and I and two Indian Classical musicians, Thakur Preminder Singh on tablas and Jaywant Naidu on Hawaiian guitar (yes, you heard right). The metal slide is perfect for the Indian style of bending notes, beautiful ornaments and notes not in our 12 tone system.

Me, Jaywant, Gilad and Preminder

Jaywant and Peter in the back

and Part 2–Baiao Jam

Then I showed them my tune “Drum On, Drum On.” After that we morphed into vamps mostly based on D but check in later for a funky slow blues!

Charminar in Hyderabad

Hyderabad is a growing city strengthened by many tech and call center businesses. As tourists we favored the old city with its sights, sounds and markets.

Pomegranates at Charminar Market

Tuk Tuk and market

We took a tuk tuk from the hotel to Charminar and then to Chowmahalla Palace – a museum now that surveys the history of the local rulers. Much of it documents their various philanthropical endeavors. It seems that they did support lots of projects with their enormous wealth. Present day descendants are not in political power but still have a connection to the community through various projects. It is an interesting view into another time.

Hanging at the palace!

Inside Chowmahalla Palace

Being in India it is impossible to ignore poverty and the deep divide between the rich and poor. Imagining times more than a century ago seem not to different from today. Growing up in NYC in a lower middle class (working) musicians family I have never identified as being rich. It is easy to take for granted all that we have. Coming to India as a guest of the Embassy with first class hotels, food and transportation makes you think hard about choices, blessings and adversity in life.

Our trip to the famous Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad was another gift that opened eyes to the reality of life on Earth. Look for an amazing post about this wonderful place in the coming days. BUT for right now, let’s end this one with some humor…I figured that since I was being treated as a VIP in India I would just go all out take my rightful place as a King among men!!!