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Friday October 14, 2005

All that jazz from Mumbai


WITH the growing popularity of Bollywood music in Kuala Lumpur, it is about time that someone brings the jazzed-up version of Indian rhythms to town big time. 

The mere thought of soul and R&B fused with traditional Indian raag and taal is tantalising, what more actually knowing the rhythms will soon reverberate in one of Kuala Lumpur’s clubs. 

Mumbai Jazz band Soul Yatra comes to town on Oct 17 and 18 at Zeta Bar in Hilton Kuala Lumpur as part of Hennessy X.O. Asian Jazz Tour. 

This will be the group's first visit to Kuala Lumpur and keyboardist Merlin D’Souza, who is also the leader, has vocalist Bianca Gomes, saxophonist Ashton Colaco, bassist Colin D’Cruz and drummer-percussionist Mukul Dongrey to complete the line-up.  

D’Souza, a graduate of the prestigious Trinity College of Music, London revealed during a recent phone interview from Korea, the intricacies of infusing traditional Indian music with jazz elements. 

Mumbai Jazz band Soul Yatra will be in Kuala Lumpur as part of Hennessy X.O. Asian Jazz Tour.
“The Indian style is ‘rough edge’ especially in the percussions,” said D’Souza. 

“But our drummer, Mukul Dongrey is versatile with his roots are in classical Indian music,” she added. 

D’Souza said the multi talented Soul Yatra drummer used taal and dhol percussions to set Soul Yatra’s musical mood. 

“I think the band’s soul comes from drum and percussions,” D'Souza said. 

She was quick to point out that most of the members, including herself, have studied classical Indian music at some point in their lives and so the drummer was not the only avenue for the fusion. 

When asked whether India’s jazz scene was overshadowed by the big Bollywood movie and music industry, Merlin said: “Completely! Jazz has a tiny niche audience in India but it is still kept alive by a small number of performers.” 

D’Souza is also an accomplished songwriter in Bollywood circles and she is credited for the hugely popular My Sonia from the hit movie Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham

Jazz, nevertheless, is still her first love and having represented the country at jazz venues all around the world, she sees herself as the attention catalyst for the musical form not only to the world at large, but also her native India. 

There’s a certain amount of mystical pride of accomplishment that arises from the musician’s voice as she is asked to reminiscent her performance at the home of jazz, The Blue Note Club in New York City.  

“It was an amazing feeling. I played at 3.30am and there was this universal feel about it.  

“For that one moment, I felt I belonged to something special – the music and history – at Blue Note,” she said. 

She was clearly excited when she spoke about her upcoming performances in Kuala Lumpur, explaining that Soul Yatra’s set lists would include not only the regular numbers but also new and never-heard-before compositions. 

She even mentioned throwing in a couple of jazzed up Bollywood hits for good measure. 

Soul Yatra's two-night stint here is part of their Hennessy X.O. Asian Jazz Tour, which also takes them to a few venues in Korea, Taiwan and China. 

Cover charge for the event is RM60 (plus a glass of Hennessy X.O.) at the door and RM50 for pre-sale. For ticket bookings, call KL Hilton at 03-2264 2264 or 012-604 9061 (Sofi). 

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