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Review |  21 Feb 2017 17:44 |  By Soubir Moitra

Saxophones, congos and all that jazz: Here's what went down at NCPA last Saturday

MUMBAI: On a regular Saturday evening, it was rather a surprise to see the number of ardent jazz fans at NCPA. The first floor was filled to the brim with people waiting to get a taste of what turned out to be an extremely pleasant evening.

The show kick-started with, the veteran saxophonist, Dallas Smith playing classics from the Pan American Songbook. He started off with a Fats Waller cover on the saxophone that beautifully carved out the retro jazz vibe for the rest of the evening. Although later on there were hints of some contemporary jazz happening but the better half of the concert focused on some hardcore classic jazz. Smith was the charming host cum performer for the evening. His attention to details and his oceanic knowledge of this complex genre was very well established not only through his immaculate covers but also through all the back stories, he shared with the audience, that are associated with the pieces. All the information along with the music was actually very beneficial for young aspirants looking to master this genre.

Along with Smith there was Fulbright music scholar Dee Wood who was pretty much the backbone of the entire concert. With simple yet mind-boggling grooves on the bass, Wood pretty much personified ‘cross-legged jazz.’ On piano was the impeccable Alfonso Copovi whose touch and feel on the keys ooze out smooth jazz. He charmed the audience with one of his originals. The delicate feel and the intricate note selections reflected his creative capacity. Sadly it’s a rather unpopular genre in today’s time.

On drums was Ko Omura, one of the most sought after drummers in Korea. Pulling off some sick Afro Cuban beats and some perfectly pressured chops was in charge of the beats. “If he plays the tabla half as good as he plays the drum, I am sure he is amazing.” Commented Smith on Ko Omura’s drumming who is also a tabla student under Pandit Samsi.

The icing on the cake was Vasundhara Vee’s crystal like voice. Her texture and her control over her singing is in a different league altogether. From belting out powerful blues to throwing delicate notes around on a jumpy R&B number, Vee danced and swayed and simply mesmerized with her skills. The effortlessness of these musicians created a laid back vibe that was difficult to let go off after the concert.

However, the concert was short-lived, like every other good thing. A note-worthy performance was an original from Dallas Smith that he calls ‘Peace’, which lingered on even after the performance. The curtains were called with one last song by the celestial Vasundhara although Smith wanted it to go on throughout the night like other classical concerts. How we wish that had happened.