Imported in the 1920s, the jazz legacy lives on in the music of Indian bands

Imported in the 1920s, the jazz legacy lives on in the music of Indian bands

By Keith Armando Gomes | | 11 February, 2017

Jazz came into being in the early half of the 20th century. It would perhaps interest people to know that as jazz took over the USA, with its politically charged essence and its sense of freedom from a subjecting order, it also gathered momentum here in India. Jazz made its way into India in the 1920s, around the same time when it was looming in the States. It was in 1935 that jazz settled in Bombay and Calcutta. The rest is history.

Jazz, to a layperson, is notorious as a complex chimera. One cannot simply explain it even if one enjoys it — but one enjoys it, and that’s the point. Jazz is subject to impressions and sensitivity, rather than being able to be conveyed simply through spoken or written words. Among the only aspects that one can pin down, in the most limited understanding, is the quality of “improvisation” that can be heard. The swing, notes of equal time being performed with unequal durations, and the blue notes are discernible traits — if not in written definition then surely in the auditory experience of Jazz. To put it even simply, jazz feels like a play with notes, you can tell the intentional movement in the irregularities. 

In India, jazz was taken up, in feisty spirits, by musicians in Goa, Bombay, Calcutta and Pune. And now, jazz finds an evident presence in all major metropolitans, including the national capital. The genre has boomed in this country, not simply by the influx of various artists from the global scene, but also because Indian musicians have absorbed it. There is a great variety of India-born musicians who have gathered credibility as Jazz artists. Here are some of those bands that have been travelling the country and are well-seasoned performers. 

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