Jazz music is not new to Mumbai city, and each year jazz lovers look forward jazz music events. One topmost favourite and highly anticipated is the International Jazz Festival at the NCPA. A three-day event from the November 24 to 26, will get Mumbaikars to groove to live performances by esteemed Grammy and Emmy-nominated international performers.
Last year German pianist Thilo Wolf, whose exceptional performance captivated the festival’s audience on the final day with his quartet, is now the opening act this year and this time he brings with him the Big Band sound.
“This concert will of course be different, because we don’t "just" have a jazz quartet with us, but a whole big band. This has a power and dynamism all of its own” says Wolf, while adding, “Count Basie once said that the most beautiful instrument is the big band and I can only agree. Johanna Iser and Torsten Goods are, of course, absolutely exceptional singers who I am sure, will thrill the audience. Thorsten is also a brilliant guitarist. Florian Bührich will continue the tradition of the great vibraphonists such as Lionel Hampton or Terri Gibbs. What will not change compared to the last concert, however, is the great enthusiasm of all the musicians”.
Emmet Cohen |
Besides Wolf, Iser and Florian, the Big Band will include four saxophones, three trombones, three trumpets, piano, bass and drums. Wolf has managed to carve out a space for himself as one of strongest players around and his performance is sure to make you feel like you’re in a 70s Jazz piano bar.
Wolf addresses the style of music audiences can expect. “In over 30 years of my band’s existence, we have built up a program that is typical for us, consisting of the swinging classics of the American Song as well as our own compositions. In general, we always play our own versions and arrangements of our music, so we always offer the audience something new and surprising, even with the well-known songs. Our repertoire includes, for example, ‘Take The A-Train’, ‘Charade’, ‘Sing Sing Sing’, but also rhythm and blues hits such as ‘On Broadway’ or ‘I wish’ in our very own versions with Torsten Goods and Johanna Iser”.
Alfredo rodriguez | ANNA WEBBER
Wolf surely is one jazz artist today that makes music that feels dreamy and wistful, yet expensive. Visiting the country for the second time, we quiz him if he has heard about jazz music in India. “I have to confess that I’m not that familiar with jazz music in India, but I’m going to take a closer look at it now when we visit this beautiful country. In general, however, I think that music is the most beautiful and international language that unites peoples, no matter what country it comes from or what style it originates from. And we have always had great pleasure in dealing with unusual and foreign styles”.
Day Two of the festival, has the sensational Emmet Cohen, who will be joined by trumpeter and vocalist Benny Benack III, bassist Philip Norris and drummer Kyle Poole. In 2016, the Miami born pianist started producing a series of albums, live interviews and performances as part of the ‘Master Legacy Series’, some of which you will hear at his show.
Thilo Wolf |
The last day of the festival begins much early and will see two big artists perform. Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez (The Alfredo Rodriguez Trio) will weave a tapestry of sounds playing a select list from his six albums, including Guantanamera which earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Arrangement in 2015. This will be followed by American jazz singer Jane Monheit Quintet; collectively curating an unmatched evening of jazz.
Artistically ambitious, a rare woman in a male dominated scene, (the only female performer in the festival) taking the road less travelled, or even the road never travelled, Jane Monheit has played a key role in shaping today’s jazz music scene. As a young girl, Monheit knew from an early age that she was going to spend her life singing. “I never wanted to do anything else, and I haven’t. This is the only job I’ve ever had, as crazy as it sounds” while adding that her biggest inspirations are Ella Fitzgerald and Latin Grammy-winning Brazilian musician Ivan Lins.
On the final day, Monheit has put together a really fun show that shows the strengths of her incredible musicians. She will sing her signature compositions, alongwith songs that she grew up listening to. “We’ll definitely be covering the decades of my albums, old and new,” says the New Yorker. Monheit also has her immediate family into music and her husband will be on stage playing drums.
Monheit will also be accompanied by saxophonist Joel Frahm, playing tunes from her many albums, the top ones being The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald (2016) and Come What May (2021) which is a collection of jazz standards.
As a family person, 45 year old Monheit has been in the music business for the last 30 years, and each day she says is new, bringing new experiences. “I think life experience is really the thing that matures you as an artist, and I’ve had plenty of that. Love, loss, family, friendship, motherhood, over two decades of touring….it’s taught me a lot.”
The festival’s grand return promises an electrifying line-up of artistes who are recognized for their mastery in jazz music. Catch the excitement this weekend with the masters of the big band, Brazilian sounds, Cuban jazz, all backed with driving rhythms and the sound of surprise.