What happens when jazz goes to the movies? Good things. Charming things. It was a full house at the Tata Theater, NCPA on a breezy evening in Mumbai. NCPA is known to host some great jazz gigs, and the idea behind this show was to have jazz renditions of some of our favorite films and scores.
Aptly titled Jazz Goes to the Movies, the show featured a collective of eight men. A collective indeed and not a band, instead, these individual artists came together and worked closely just to delight us with this well curated show. This group comprised men, both young and old, justified by a father-son duo. Age is just a number and talent has no age. It also shows how jazz may be one of the oldest genres ever, but yet it manages to be fresh and energetic.
Here's the lineup:
Rajeev Raja, flute
Sanjay Divecha, guitar
Karl Peters, bass
Kurt Peters, drums
Rahul Wadhwani, piano/keys
Ramon Ibrahim, trombone
Shirish Malhotra, saxophone
Bosco Monsorate, trumpet
They couldn’t have commenced the evening any better, performing the classic James Bond theme which repeatedly received applause right from the start. This merged into the modern theme of Skyfall, and from there on it was just a collection of classics, including films and songs like Over the Rainbow, Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head, The Way we Were, Misty, The Sound of Music, etc. In between these came the theme of The Godfather, who Raja explained is the best example of how a film score can accentuate a storyline.
They also performed the classic cowboy theme of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, where the three titular characters each have a different instrument for the same theme. Then came the quintessential theme of the Pink Panther. Top class. Taking a break from the classics, it was near mandatory that they perform La La Land as well.
During one song, the saxophonist unplugged his instrument and came to the front of the stage, ripping it up. Just him and the sax, showing not much is needed in music as long as it comes from the soul. As he was ending his act, two men from the middle rows put words into the last stanza, helping him finish so timely it seemed like it was rehearsed.
They started with James Bond, so what would they end it with? Mission Impossible! An elaborate account, their version managed to be more pumping than the original action theme itself. As they received a standing ovation and pleas for another song, they decided to reward us for being such a wonderful audience, by playing Purple Rain by the late Prince.
There were sections in a song where each musician could go solo and show off with his respective instrument, putting each man in the spotlight. Juxtaposed with these joint performances, some songs were only performed in the form of solos, duets, and even trios. A key point to note – none of them used vocals throughout the show.
The most appreciable thing was that while they gave the audience what they wanted with the aforementioned classics, they didn’t go "mainstream" and managed to stick to the essence of jazz, with a lot coming from the sweet 60s. The string of performances they put together made it a well balanced act in all. Their renditions touched upon the many sub genres of jazz, right from bossa nova to funky. Thanks to musicians like these, jazz will never die.