The Fusion concert was a diverse programme with a musical sampling. The concert through the performances showcased the passion and excitement of the musicians. The hall was really nice and attracted a diverse audience that may not have bought tickets if in the ‘ethnoburbs’!
The first half of the concert started with a classical piece- Jansang Mohini- Short alap by Dilshad Khan that started with his sarangi tuned impeccably. Fazal Quereshi entered with playful tabla brining the crowd alive. The tabla and sarangi merged, playing in sync, demonstrating the astounding level of instrument prowess these two musicians possess. The next on list was Piya Basanti , a tribute to Sultan Khan - not a tight of a piece as there has little to rehearse. The piece introduced Ben Fernandez into the group as a talented keyboard player. The sarangi sang with more power than the heartfelt vocal rendition Dilshad Khan sang in honour of his uncle Sultan Khan.
Introducing the whole band was Kenny Garrett’s Sing along a Song. Jo Shum demonstrating her powerful bass technique, She looked in complete control of the complex nature of the challenging music that was about to follow. The keyboard entered demonstrating subtle true pure jazz that was supplemented by sax and drum kit and finally enhanced but the sarangi and tabla infusing the piece with an eastern fusion flavour. The sarangi added laughter, soul and sweetness to the piece creating a sense of questioning and wonder.
Further , Ben Fernandez’s Ballad/Lullaby was light and western by comparison. Keyboard and flute remained straight and conforming in strong contrast to the sarangi and tabla that added a very different voice to the composition. Ending the first half of the concert was Fazal Quereshi’s Funky Seven that started with a fabulous Tabla and Bass duet demonstrating Jo’s true talent and ability. Mark Menezes on drum kit was featured, Jim Langabeer on flute and Ben Fernandez on keyboard wrapped in a fusion experience that framed the soulful sarangi solos and tabla expertise.
The second half of the concert made the night even more soulful with the fusion of different genres of music. It started with Miles Davis Ardis was a good choice as it is jazz with a strong Indian flavour. Bass solo was solid, dense and passionate. Keyboard was beautiful and playful; the sax added brightness. The band further moved to play the classic jazz piece, Chick Corea (Spain) which reflected the band’s growing confidence. Keyboard started bringing in the piece’s main theme and the rest of the band followed. Tenor sax solo was good with the playing more confident and polished. The rhythm was rocking and the audience responded to the fun the band was experiencing on stage.
Dilshad’s soulful singing of Panihaari a Rajasthani folksong was a refreshing piece. The romantic folk song transliterates to tell a story about women gathering water, came alive as the audience were clapping rhythms in their seats. Rajasthani repertoire remains familiar and exotic to the audience, this concert attracted. Often a crowd teaser- in this case a good choice for the audience and placement in the programme. Sarangi was powerful with playful jazz fusion interactions. With heartfelt singing by Fazal.
Fazal Quereshi Serentity opening lines by the sarangi brought back memories, to those who have visited India, of boatmen singing in the early mornings on the Ganges. The tabla entered soft and pulsing- very tight and skilful duet that set the piece for the rest of the band. Fazal demonstrated tabla bols and in came the drum kit with all the musicians jamming together. The sax solo was strong and accomplished. Mark demonstrated his skills and expertise. The piece brought the house down and left a feeling that this was the culmination of all the hard work this band put together in such a short space of time. The piece was a very exciting demonstration of fusion and the experimental nature of such performances involving creative crossovers between musicians and repertoires.
Finally the concert ended with a joyful piece, Encore Duke Ellington Caravan, a jazz standard that everyone in the band was confident with allowed all to shine including a very nice sax solo. The band had their audience in their hands and brought down the house.
The soulful musical evening left everyone awestruck singing praises of the artists and their performance. The concert was not just a fusion of music but a fusion of culture which connected people of different world together.