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News |  23 Jul 2015 19:44 |  By RnMTeam

Devraj SanyalÆs amazing North Sea Jazz Festival experience

MUMBAI: For jazz lovers, the North Sea Jazz Festival is the one you must get to in your lifetime. At least once, otherwise you are not really into jazz. Held in Rotterdam, it features almost every jazz genre, right from traditional New Orleans jazz to Swing, bebop, fusion, blues, gospel music, funk music, soul music and drum n bass, and is rated as the biggest indoor jazz festival globally. The festival has 14 stages and 100 plus artists performing over its three-day duration.

So when the opportunity came, managing director & CEO of Universal Music Group & EMI Music, Devraj Sanyal’s way, he jumped at it. The dates were: 10-12 July, and he had been on the road for quite a bit. But unlike other earlier occasions, he pulled out his appointment book, and made a strong affirmation to fly to the Netherlands. On the jet with him flew his lovely wife Nikita, and friends Carlton Braganza (owner of Bangalore’s famed Opus Bar), senior television creative professional Anirban Bhattacharya, fashion designer Narendra Kumar Ahmed and Shonali Mathias.

“To be honest, I had wanted to attend it for a very long time, but given my busy work schedule I could not find the time,” he confessed to “This year was no different, but I managed to shift a few dates.”

And Devraj believes the effort was worth it. “The experience was incredible,” he gushes. “I used to be the first person to be there and the last to leave. The quality of the show was insane. There were 30,000 -40,000 people at one venue, yet everything was so well organised; everybody respected the lines. And the music was simply out of the world.”

As a part of the audience, he watched the likes of Tony Bennett, Wayne Shorter, Lady Gaga, Lionel Richie, Emeli Sande, Deedee Bridgewater, Chaka Khan, John Legend, David Sanborn, Paolo Nutini, Jamie Callum, Beth Hart, Herbie Hancock, Chick Correa, Mary J Blige, and Marcus Miller – belt out their best.

Watching Tony Bennett was amongst the highlights for him on day one of the festival. Said he on social media, “Tony Bennett doing Sinatra. I have died and gone to heaven. What a day. Too see this many legends in one day is unreal. Now for day 2.”

Day 2 saw Devraj getting ecstatic about DeeDee, Chaka, among others. “I've been in love with her (Deedee) for many many years but to see u her up close and perform like a goddess makes my gooses fly and threaten to leave me. She is beyond amazing. Ladies & Gents the Goddess of Funk Chaka Khan.”

The icing on the cake was that he had backstage passes. “I got to talk to the artists too,” he reveals. Among them featured Lionel ‘Hello’ Richie, and the Isreali born US-based jazz trumpeter Avishai Cohen.

Like a true music lover and musician, he had his fanboy moments meeting them and posted selfies with them on his social pages. Said he, “It don't get better than this. @nikitasanyal and me with my childhood icon @lionelritchie. He is the absolute bomb.” (sic)

On stage he is a true blue rock musician - heavy metal in fact - but Devraj also swears by jazz. And he is also totally into the North Sea Jazz Festival. “I am going to be there every year. I have already blocked my dates for the next year,” he reveals.

He reiterated that on Facebook when he posted: “A 4 day trip to the Netherlands, the coolest jazz festival in the world, 14 stages, 17 artists that I watched out the lot, 98,175 steps which equaled 62km of walking, some incredible food and moderate drinking, weight gained- Zero Kg.......all in all a pretty good weekend getaway... — feeling awesome.”

The experience at Ahoy Rotterdam (the convention centre where the festival is held) has moved him to become an advocate for promoting newer forms of music.

Says he, “I feel it is my responsibility to get different forms of music for our next generation. My kids are not listening to Bollywood songs; they are listening to Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. I personally feel we have space for Jazz and Blues as the world tomorrow is going to be different. Sunburn is definitely not the end. I am happy that the Mahindra Blues Festival is doing well. But we are also looking at doing different things in the jazz space.”

Benny Goodman, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz would definitely approve.