AMONG all the Indian cities, Mumbai probably has the most happening concert scene, specially between October and March. Yes, Bangalore is better known for hosting the bigger rock acts, Chennai has a wonderful season of Carnatic music (the south Indian classical form), Delhi produces some of the best bands from the country, and Kolkata attracts the more serious listeners. But talk of Mumbai, and during this period of the year, it boasts of the largest chunk of Hindustani classical, film music, western classical and jazz shows.
Returning to Mumbai after a five-month work stint in Bangalore, I must consider myself lucky to have come here at the beginning of what promises to be another exciting music season. In the space of barely a week, I attended three fantastic concerts—two in the Indo-jazz fusion space, and one in the ghazal genre. And the actual Hindustani classical season is just about to begin, with the well-known Gunidas Sangeet Sammelan scheduled next week, and tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain commencing his annual back-to-back Indian schedule soon.
The first of these concerts, held at the Shanmukhananda Hall, Sion, on November 17, was titled ‘Beats & Winds’. It was the debut venture of Madhyam Entertainment, an event management company floated by an old friend Vaibhav Patil, a well-known name in public relations. The line-up was spectacular – Trilok Gurtu on drums, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt on Mohan Veena (an Indianised version of the slide guitar), Ronu Majumdar on Indian bamboo flute, George Brooks on saxophone, Roopkumar Rathod on vocals, Atul Raninga on keyboards and Vijay Chavan on dholki, an Indian percussion instrument. Keeping that in mind, the concert should have been titled ‘Beats, Winds, Strings, Keys & Voice’!
Strangely, it was marketed as a ‘unique classical music concert’. In truth, it wasn’t classical in the real sense, but a good, high-energy amalgam of Indian classical, jazz, world music, folk and Sufiana music. Some brilliant performances by all the musicians made it memorable.
Concert Number 2 was a private gathering, held at Ajivasan hall in Juhu on November 20 in memory of the great ghazal singer Jagjit Singh, who passed away on October 10. Featuring singers Ghansham Vaswani and Tauseef Akhtar, it propelled the audience into nostalgia mode, with renditions of popular songs like ‘Baat Niklegi To Phir’, ‘Sarakhti Jaaye Rukh Se Naqab’, ‘Yeh Tera Ghar Yeh Mera Ghar’, ‘Woh Kaagiz Ki Kashti’ and ‘Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi’.
Finally, there was a brilliant show by BuJazzO—short for the German group Bundesjazzorchester— which collaborated with Carnatic singer Rama Mani, and percussionists TAS Mani, Ramesh Shotham and Karthik Mani at the St Andrew’s auditorium, Bandra, on November 23. Conducted by Mike Herting, it was a unique mix of large ensemble jazz, Carnatic music and vocal choruses, with some amazing rearrangements of compositions by Charlie Mariano and Louis Banks.
There was, of course, a lot more happening over the past week, mainly in the suburb of Bandra which is hosting some wonderful open-air concerts as part of the Bandra festival. Missed attending them, but am sure there will be so much more over the next few weeks.