The International Jazz Fest, which kickstarted at Shisha Cafe today, is bringing together jazz lovers from across the city. Before their performance on November 23, we caught up with Auroville All Stars, which includes band members Maarten Visser on the saxophone, Jens on bass and Jeoraj George on the drums, to know their take on the genre and the experience of playing for an Indian audience.
Visser points out that the band has been together for several years now and has performed at various international locations, but this will be the first time that Jens will be playing an electronic double bass at the festival.
When asked how they first got associated with jazz, Visser says that he does not believe in calling himself a jazz musician. “I am an improviser and a saxophonist but the ‘boxing’ of musical identity is not very interesting for me to begin with,” he says adding that his association with improvised music goes back to when he was just five years old. He saw a concert of ‘Het Breuker Kollektief’ in Utrecht, Holland, and he knew he had to be a part of this band.
When it comes to their music, Visser says that the band’s trademark open approach to structure and improvisation remains intact. But compositionally, the music has taken a turn, scavenging and leeching on to the musical past and present of the individual musicians which add to the overall music making experience.
What makes them strong as a band is the fact that they have a vision on sound, development of ideas in sound and the freedom within the limits of it. “Of course, it is important that we share numerous musical references within jazz and in other musical styles as well because of which it lets us have a musical communication which is so important when you perform together as a band,” Visser says adding that it helps their music to be energetic, dynamic, sonic, rhythmic, melodic and, most importantly, exciting.
India has an audience for jazz and improvised music. “From what I know I can say that India is also an incredibly complex, multi-layered society, so people at a cocktail party enjoying well-known jazz standards might not be the same audience that goes for a hard hitting experimental free jazz concert,” says Visser adding that a few people here even like to indulge in the best of both worlds.
When asked what do they look for in an audience while they are playing or jamming , Visser says, “In my experience people — be it jazz lovers or a general audience — respond to an energy in the music and conviction of the musicians in what they bring.” Which is the reason that he believes that even if people don’t understand what is going on, they can still have a musical experience. “The only thing that the audience needs to do is pay attention to the music that is being played because that is the only thing that music really demands,” he says adding that it is important for the audience to take the first step and the musicians will take the other five and be generous in what they have to offer. He further mentions that he feels that the audience here is fairly open and not cynical.
Talking about the set that they have prepared for International Jazz Fest, Visser points out that they will be playing a set of new original repertoire. “For years and years, I have told daily stories to my daughters, about anything imaginable. This music is about the stories I did not tell which is about pixies,” he says adding that he is looking forward to playing for both jazz lovers and the ones who are new to the genre.
ST Reader Service
International Jazz Fest is being held at Shisha Cafe, ABC Farms, Koregaon Park, from November 22-24. Auroville All Stars will perform at 7.15 pm and Mind Flo will perform at 8.45 pm on Friday.