Mumbai Jazz Festival Is Making Jazz Music More Democratic

Mumbai Jazz Festival Is Making Jazz Music More Democratic

Head over to Phoenix Palladium this weekend for a free music festival that celebrates the international and Indian faces of jazz

Kasmin FernandesUpdated: Thursday, December 07, 2023, 04:53 PM IST
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This weekend, the Mumbai Jazz Festival is rolling into town, and it's not just any old music shindig. It's a two-day, toe-tapping, soul-soothing extravaganza. Think of it as a jazz-themed party where everyone's invited, since passes can be reserved for free on Bookmyshow.

When and where?

On the 9th and 10th of December, Phoenix Palladium in Lower Parel is turning into a jazz wonderland. You will be stepping into a musical time machine. The Mumbai Jazz Festival isn't just throwing a couple of saxophonists your way. They are bringing in homegrown and international jazz pros. From the classic jazz tunes that your cool uncle brags about knowing, to the contemporary beats that make you go, "Hmm, jazz can do that?" – this festival has it all.

Line-up of eclectic jazz artists

Germany-based sitarist Hindol Deb started playing the sitar at five. Trained by a lineage of maestros, he's like a walking encyclopaedia of sitar knowledge. His style is a blend of classical Indian, medieval western music and jazz. It's like he took the most complicated musical genres, threw them in a blender, and somehow ended up with something amazing. Hindol currently lives in Cologne and is working on compositions for a crossover jazz project. Said Deb on the eve of the fest, “I am looking forward to playing with my friends from Germany on the stage. We will present a blend of jazz with classical music from the Indian tradition.”

Hindol Deb and friends

Hindol Deb and friends |

Then, there's Tèr Laba led by Valérie Chane Tef, a pianist-composer from Reunion Island. Valérie started with classical piano but found her true calling in jazz and Creole music. “Between compositions and covers, I like to discover and rediscover my birthplace. Through well-known songs, but also original compositions that tell intimate stories,” she says. The music is optimistic, catchy, and probably what happiness sounds like. The members of Tèr Laba sing in languages some of us didn't know existed and play a blend of jazz and Creole music that's as refreshing as a cold drink on a hot day.

Flo Vincenot from Ter Laba

Flo Vincenot from Ter Laba |

Watch the latest music video from Tèr Laba:

Homegrown acts

Imagine a voice that can probably do your taxes and make it sound like an aria. That's Vasundhara Vee for you. She's not just a singer, she's a vocal brand, adept in Jazz, Soul, RnB, Blues, and Funk. She's trained with Mark Baxter, who's like the vocal coach equivalent of a superhero sidekick, having worked with legends like Steven Tyler. Remember the band Adil & Vasundhara? That was her, before she went solo and started opening for fusion guitarist John Mclaughlin.

Watch Vasundhara Vee's performance at a jazz club:

Zian B is a vocalist from Mumbai who loves jazz, pop, soul and the blues, who's performed in the Netherlands and across multiple stages in India. Singer Shreya Bhattacharya is like that friend who's good at everything and makes it look easy. She's trained in pop, jazz, blues and RnB. Her project, 'Beer Puppets', sounds like a band you'd want to hang out with just based on the name alone. Shreya's approach to music is like a chef experimenting with recipes – a little bit of this, a dash of that, and voila, a masterpiece.

Vasundhara Vee

Vasundhara Vee |

Many Things comprises saxophonist Maarten Visser, bassist Aravind Murali (from Goods Vandi and Wascally Wabbit) and drummer Manukrishnan (from Jatayu, Chaos and Escher’s Knot). Their debut album, 'First Things First,' walks the tightrope between composition and improvisation. Their backgrounds are diverse, ranging from avant-garde to heavy metal. It's like they took different musical roads and met at the best possible intersection.

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