Come Thursday and Ranjit Barot and SLANG will sweep the Pune audience off their feet with their jazz set. The quartet — pianist Osam Ezzeldin, Cameroonian bassist Etienne Mbappe and Marc Guillermont on the guitar with Vasundhara V on vocals — will present tunes which have been written and composed by drummer, Barot, who is also the producer of the set. We talk to the musicians to know their thoughts on the genre.
The self-taught artist
Jazz connoisseurs know Marc Guillermont as someone who has appeared on numerous jazz fusion albums and solos over the several years. “I started music at the conservatory, studying Alto sax, when I was just five years old. But I believed that guitar was my true calling. So at the age of 12, I swapped the Alto sax for guitar,” explains Guillermont.
The guitarist learnt everything by himself, by trial and error method. He says that he listened to LPs (long play records) and learnt to play along with them. “It was extremely exciting for me,” he adds.
Talking about how jazz has changed over the years, Guillermont says that being a musician, in general, but specifically in jazz has become more difficult now. “Jazz has never been commercial. But at the same time, it has now become a music genre that covers a huge and a wide range of styles mixed together. It has now become positive and is probably the best definition of the fusion style. Ranjit’s Bada Boom is a good example of what jazz has become today,” he quips.
When asked about his thoughts on music and internet, the guitarist says, “It did have a negative impact on music in some ways. But the good side is that it made connecting with new musicians easier. That is how I met Ranjit!”
Having spent so many years in the industry, Guillermont has many lessons and anecdotes to share. “The more years go by, the more I understand what Socrates once said; ‘I know, I know nothing’,” says the guitarist, who enjoys listening to Michael Landau, MeShell NdgOcello, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Radiohead.
A versatile virtuoso
In their Pune gig, Osam Ezzeldin will be at the keyboard. But it’s his versatility that makes him a special valuable addition to a new generation of jazz virtuosos. Ezzeldin was 18 when he first heard jazz compositions. “I listened and taught myself and by the age of 20, I was one of the top jazz pianists in North Africa!,” he exclaims.
After an accelerated success in the country, he decided to move to the US. A few years later, with a lot of hard work and total dedication he earned recognition as a jazz composer and educator around the US, and eventually worldwide as well.
After he received a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music, Ezzeldin started playing in the professional scene with the great musicians of the industry, who were his heroes as well.
When asked about the changes that he has seen in the genre, the musician says, “It has changed from the very real thing that it used to be. Now, unfortunately, it has changed into business music. Jazz does not hold much appeal to the millennials. But I am hopeful that it will get back on track soon. I believe that every musician must learn to keep the genre real and honest. The new generation of musicians need to keep this in mind and learn how to develop it.”
“From Miles Davis to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and to whatever came out in between, I’ve heard it all,” he adds.
ST Reader Service
Ranjit Barot and SLANG will perform at Shisha Cafe, Koregaon Park on March 8, at 8:30 pm