INDO-JAZZ FUSIONS AT THE HILTON, COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
The Sunday Times Plus : Sunday May 30 1999
By Arun Dias - Bandaranaike
"Piloo" we noticed, with its frontline of muted trumpet and flute, was
pretty much along the lines of the structured neatness of the West Coast sound, as epitomized in the work of say, Bud Shank. The versatility of the band was well in evidence as it travelled through a gamut of Indian inflected tempi and encompassed everything for hard swinging hard-bop, through the spirit of Havana to touch on Caribbean reggae as well! There were equal measures of California cool, the exoticism of Ellington-Strayhorn, and the 'heat' of Maynard Ferguson in the arrangement for the ensemble.Pianist Simon Colam (recently graduated from Guildhall), on the other hand, adapted himself by superimposing well-tempered chord structures on top of the micro-tonal raga scale, and usually succeeded in taking the music in a different direction - at one moment employing the elegance of say Michel Petrucciani, and than, in another piece would lapse into the ebullient hard bop of Jacky Terrason.
In this, he was ably supported by the rhythm of Dave Foster's electric
bass, and Andrew Bratt, who one can sense, is a drummer more at home in
the mainstream; but having said that, he does work with other elements
commendably, when he also settled for the South Indian Ghatam at times!
Through all of this, the Indo aspect is shored up by Jonathan Mayer's
(the leaders son; himself a fine composer) sitar and Harjinder Matharu's tabla.
Despite the commercial crassness inherent in the term at this time, what we did have demonstrated was that the fusion of streams of musical
traditions and rhythms is not out of date, and can still offer challenges to players - and who better to prove that, than the forerunner of the trend, the uncompromising John Mayer himself!
Magical Fusion Experience
By Thushara Senanyake
I was so absorbed in this music, I totally forgot to take a look at the band during the first piece. I had actually been mesmerised by the baton which John Mayer used to conduct the opening number. It was only during his introduction of the band that I glanced at them for the first time. What struck me most about the band was that they were all young men in their early twenties. It was heartwarming to note that whilst other British youth were embracing the pop and rock culture, the members of this band were lending their talents and skills to a fusion act. It was a breath of fresh air.
John Mayer then went on to describe how he and the late Joe Harriott
first formed the band.
Mayer's Indo-Jazz Fusions took the audience through a
sentimental journey with Song Before Sunrise. This soul stirring
instrumental was electric as the opening sequence painted the sunrise on my mind. I was not sure whether Mayer's announcement of the title
contributed to my preconceived imagination. Whatever it was , Song Before Sunrise was brilliant.
Miyan-Ki-Malhar followed Song Before Sunrise, a piece written by one of
John Mayer's students, Steve Tromans.
After the Interval, Indo-Jazz Fusions moved to a new composition called
Sri Lanka. For this piece, Andrew Bratt switched on to Ghatam before going to the drum pit for the next piece - Raga Megha. Mayer's Indo-Jazz Fusions wrapped up with Asian Airs but they were compelled to come back to the stage as the audience called for an encore.
It certainly was an evening to remember
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