Monday, May 27, 2024

Celeb Talk : Let’s rock ‘n’ roll

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Grammy-nominated jazz musicians are ready to rock n roll in India! The Pioneer’s Shikha Duggal got a chance to interview Thilo Wolf Jazz Quartett and Johanna Iser, who will also be performing at the International Jazz Festival. Read on to go on a musical ride with us.

This year, the National Centre for the Performing Arts will host the International Jazz Festival, which will feature Grammy-nominated musicians performing some of the finest and highest standard jazz our country has ever heard. The Mingus Big Band will kick off the festival on November 25, followed by Monty Alexander on November 26 and the Thilo Wolf Jazz Quartett featuring Johanna Iser on November 27.

And guess what? We had the opportunity to interview one of the two significantly talented jazz stars because there is much to cheer about the future of jazz in our country. Grasping the first interviewee’s hand, Thilo Wolf, a German jazz artist, spoke to us and illuminated us, saying, “There are so many influences that come into play at a concert. And jazz musicians are able to react extremely quickly. In principle, jazz is a good role model for life too. We can rely on our experience and skills, but we are also able to react quickly. The most important thing is that we listen to the others; only then can we interact. That’s the fascinating part of it, you see.”

He was first discovered at the age of 13 at a city music competition. There were much more perfect players than him, but he came with his own composition and did his own thing! That impressed the jury. And, in the end, it was the first small step toward his own big band. As per the musician’s expertise, who is also a pianist, he continued, “Jazz doesn’t have any genres; they are both timeless. When good musicians play good music, it doesn’t matter what style it is. They are just different ways of expressing a language that is common all over the world, namely music.”

On the other hand, we spoke at length to jazz musician and holistic vocal coach Johanna Iser, and she apprised us, “I am so excited to visit the international jazz festival in India and very curious about the fusion of Asian culture and the influences of European music on it. I have performed with show bands in some Asian countries some years before also, but I have actually never performed at a jazz festival in Asia.”

The musician, who also runs a healing heart, continued, “My mother is the one with the musical background. She and her three sisters started singing at a very early age. First, they performed traditional music as a vocal quartet; later, they had local performances with songs from the 1920s and also jazz standards. I’ve always been fascinated by them and have listened to them. Passively and actively, I learned a lot from them.”

Next to her mother, it was her maternal grandfather, who also played songs as a jazz musician (bass player) in a band. He sang and played jazz standards, and Johanna remembers writing down the lyrics of the tunes for him as they were spoken — and he did not understand any English! Although she was mainly influenced by Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter, she also listened to Amy Winehouse and Jamie Cullum. And, “I feel like improvisational music is very popular in Asia and creating quite a wave. It is a music of independence and freedom, and I think that in itself is very attractive to a modern society that is evolving. I guess jazz and other similar genres really have been hyped in Asia even more than in Europe for years now.”

Sharing some insights about her own hub called Higher Frequency, she told us, “I am working as a singer, stage and performance trainer, plus a coach in human design and EFT. Also, I have started to work as a sound healer! All these influences in my work have to do with frequency. When I am coaching 1:1 clients or groups, my aim is to basically raise their frequencies. So I have created a programme that is called higher frequency. It is a very deep and profound live online journey for people who want to elevate and truly empower themselves in order to live and embody their truth and heal shadow aspects of themselves. Basically, this is also something that deeply felt music can provide for us, too.”

Jazz music in India originated in the 1920s in Mumbai and Kolkata, where African-American jazz musicians performed. They inspired Goan musicians, who then infused jazz into the sounds of India’s Hindi film music industry. There has been much interaction between Indian music and jazz music. An active jazz scene exists today in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Goa, and Kolkata, and that’s how these international jazz singers have chosen Mumbai to be the place to unfurl their jazz talent.

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