Music: The Crusaders
Lyrics: Radha Thomas  

She was a street dog, sad and hungry life alone

A street dog, that I hugged and made my own

That street dog, she will always have a bone

Street dog, now she’ll never sigh and moan

She’s got a special bark, I love to hear her talk

I take her for a walk, along the streets, the park

Sometimes in the night, she’ll run away from me

When she thinks she’s seen, an old friend or family

Street dog / Such a sweet dog / Meet my street dog / Loves her treat dog

 

She’s my street dog, she knows I love her so

A street dog, I will never let her go

Street dog, makes me smile when I am low

My street dog, even if she bites my toe

Shining like a flame, and I have staked my claim

But just because she has my name, it doesn’t mean she’s tame

She comes in thru the door, and lays upon the floor

And then she starts to snore, I find I love her more and more

Street dog / Can’t be beat dog / My complete dog / Sugar sweet dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in August of 2014, I received this frightening notice (below) from SoundCloud about a song that my ex-husband Suresh Shottam and I wrote in 1975, in India. We had performed it several times with our band Human Bondage, and then when we went to America, where we recorded a demo tape of the song with Joe Farrell, Richie Beirach, Jeff Williams, Frank Tusa and Lois Colin who are probably some of the finest jazz musicians in the world. It was a beautiful recording.

I am trying to get the music extracted from the cassette to digital format so I can listen to the better version of me.

That was then.

The song ‘Call’ has always been one of my favourites. My grandmother used to sing it. The lyrics are a sort of a dedication to one of our Indian gods, Krishna… my name is Radha, you see, and Radha and Krishna were quite the item. Suresh Shottam, my husband then, who wrote the beautiful music for the song, didn’t mind since there was no humanoid named Krishna to compete with him.

In 2012, I decided to record ‘Call’ again, with my present band UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble, as one of the songs on our album ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ and then my very talented cousin Indu Krishnan made a video for YouTube.
So imagine my horror when I received this (below) on my personal email ID, on Aug 5, 2014:

Hi UNKTheRadhaThomasEnsemble,
Our automatic content protection system has detected that your sound “Call” may contain the following copyright content: “Call” by Radha Thomas Ensemble, owned by null. As a result, its publication on your profile has been blocked.
If you are the copyright owner of this content, please notify us of this by submitting a dispute, and we’ll be able to help out quickly. You can file your dispute at the following link: https://copyright.soundcloud.com/dispute/soundcloud:disputes:10624631
If you are not the rights holder, but you have gotten permission to share this material on SoundCloud from the copyright owner, please send us proof of this permission in a dispute for review: https://copyright.soundcloud.com/dispute/soundcloud:disputes:10624631
To learn more about what kinds of content you are allowed to upload to SoundCloud in order to comply with copyright law, please visit our copyright information page.
Thanks,
The SoundCloud Copyright Team

Well, I wrote back to them through their website immediately, since you can’t reply via email or call and speak to someone and they sent me this email on the same day, kind of an ‘oops, we’re sorry,’ and I forgot all about it, but saved the emails fortunately. I usually delete everything.

Hi UNKTheRadhaThomasEnsemble,
Thank you for providing feedback in regards to the upload:
Call
https://copyright.soundcloud.com/dispute/soundcloud:disputes:10624631
This notification is to inform you that your upload has been released to your account.
Thanks,
The SoundCloud team

I thought that all was well with the world.

Until yesterday. When I received this email, on my band’s email ID, and via YouTube this time.

Hi Radha Thomas,
After reviewing your dispute, The Orchard Music has decided that their copyright claim is still valid.
Video title: Call
Copyrighted song: Call
Claimed by: The Orchard Music
http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=qvhi8sc8lTo&u=/copynotice%3Fvideo_id%3DiScSLNOCFn4
http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=qvhi8sc8lTo&u=/copynotice%3Fvideo_id%3DiScSLNOCFn4
Why this can happen
• The copyright owner might disagree with your dispute.
• The reason you gave for disputing the claim may have been insufficient or invalid.
– The YouTube Team

So here are my questions to SoundCloud / YouTube / The Orchard / Google and anyone else preying on the music of people who have spent their lives thinking, creating, modifying and perfecting their art.

1. After reviewing what dispute? I am not disputing that ‘Call’ is my song. I know it is. And if you are referring to the above email from SoundCloud, did you not get their ‘Oops’ email?

2. Why should I prove that it is my song? Why don’t you prove it to me first?

3. Who is The Orchard anyway, and how can they listen to a song and say it is theirs?

4. What gives you the right to make me jump through hoops just because you are rich, powerful and no one apparently can touch you?

5. Lastly, but MOST IMPORTANTLY… can you please let me hear the song you believe I have ripped off? Send it to me, and if there’s any truth to your claim, I’ll give up chocolate for the rest of my life.

In total disgust,

Radha Thomas

 

 

 

By Bhavna Ramballac / New Indian Express / Bangalore / Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Poster UNK

Bangalore-based band, UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble will take centerstage this Friday at Phoenix Marketcity, and give the audience, a taste of Jazz.

The band features Radha Thomas on vocals, Karan Joseph on piano, Mishko M’Ba on bass, Matt Littlewood on saxophone, Ramjee Chandran on guitar and Rahul Gopal on drums. UNK has performed all over the country for Jazz Yatra, ICCR Delhi International Festival, Indigo & Blues Festival, Bangalore International Arts Festival, Bengaluru Habba, iSai Festival and goMad Festival among others.

Radha Thomas recently performed at EuropaFest in Romania. She was trained in Dhrupad, an Indian classical vocal style, by Ustad Farid Ud Din Dagar. Thomas also lived in New York for 20 years, where she performed with musicians such as Ryo Kawasaki, Frank Tusa, John Scofield, Michael Brecker, Alex Blake, Badal Roy, Buddy Williams, Joe Farrell and others.

Asked about the aim of holding this show, Thomas replied, “We perform because that is our passion. For some of us it is the only thing we do and for others, it is a part of what they do”.

“Jazz is a feeling that starts in your soul and moves all across your body, on the back beat. It’s the kind of music that energises you and makes you feel good,” says Thomas. She further adds that as a performer, there is nothing she would rather do in the world than singing Jazz.

UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble was formed a few years ago and released their first album named I Only Have Eyes For You in 2012.

As the bandleader, Thomas says she is satisfied with the way the music has turned out and also the way they have been able to attract the finest talent to work with them. She feels it would be perfect to have the same members play in the band year after year, but its not possible because Jazz is not a popular form of music and does not attract large crowds or large performance fees.

According to Thomas, one of the main challenges of running a band is lack of finance. But money is not all it takes for the survival of the band, she says, adding that the love of music and cooperation of the members has helped them reached so far.

(The band will be performing live at Phoenix MarketCity on July 19 and at Take 5 in Indiranagar on July 20.)

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bangalore/City-based-band-to-perform-Jazz-pieces/2014/07/15/article2331499.ece

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bangalore/City-based-band-to-perform-Jazz-pieces/2014/07/15/article2331499.ece

 

BangaloreMag_Logo_For-Website_474x82pxBy Jazz Hack

Radha Thomas and Aman Mahajan will perform at the jazz festival in Bucharest, Romania

Famous vocalist Radha Thomas and—Berklee-educated pianist, composer and arranger—Aman Mahajan will fly the Bangalore flag at the EUROPA Fest in Bucharest, Romania. The prestigious 2-week festival (08 May through 24 May this year) comprises performances by over 300 artists from 45 different locations. Thomas and Mahajan are the only featured artists from India.

The duo first performed their act—titled “2 For The Road”—back in 2012 as part of the BIAF festival at Opus. Since then, the duo has gone to make a video directed by US-based filmmaker Indu Krishnan, featuring their version of the Herbie Hancock hit, “Watermelon Man”.

Their collaboration began almost three years ago began when Thomas invited Mahajan to join her as she formed her band, “UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble”, which also features famous musicians, saxophonist Matthew Littlewood and bassist Mishko M’Ba. While the band started by performing a wide variety of jazz standards, Thomas being an accomplished jazz singer in New York for many years and before that, “frontman” for the very famous Indian rock band, “Human Bondage”).

Mahajan has collaborated with Thomas in all her musical endeavours of the past few years and in the course of their work, quite naturally discovered their vibe and thus, the duo’s unique sound.

About two years into the band’s existence, Thomas released her album, “I Only Have Eyes For You” to considerable accolade in the press. The album continues to be played in hundreds of radio stations across the US and other locations.

In more recent times, UNK’s performances exclusively feature compositions by Thomas and some by Mahajan.

“I Only Have Eyes For You” can be heard here. Notable in the Bucharest set list will be the song that is quickly becoming known to Bangaloreans as UNK’s anthem, “Bangalore Blues”.

The duo will perform their set at Take 5, Indiranagar on May 25.

– See more at: http://bangalore.explocity.com/articledetail/The-City/City-Duo-To-Perform-At-Europa-Jazz-Festival-In-Romania/124286/153661#sthash.y0UQuW14.dpuf

Bangalore Mirror
Bangalore Mirror

Excuse Bangalore artistes Radha Thomas and Aman Mahajan if they seem a little hurried while performing at Take 5 in Indiranagar on April 25. The duo that comprises musical outfit ‘2 For The Road’ will be rushing to The Piano Man on May 10, in Delhi next, and then boarding a flight to Romania. They will be representing India at EUROPAFest in Bucharest, a prestigious global music festival. They met when the former came across Mahajan’s video on the Internet. Much practice later, they formed UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble, a 6-piece band that has been performing regularly for the past year-and-a-half. Following this, they created the smaller, more intimate 2 For The Road, which lists several influences including jazz, Indian music, Latin music, African rhythms and the blues. Good luck, folks.

http://www.bangaloremirror.com/columns/code-560/On-the-ball/articleshow/33514312.cms

2013-05-26 22.24.30

What do you get when you blend jazz, blues, Indian classical music, Latin music, African rhythms and add a dash of hip-hop? You get the Bangalore based band UNK, one of India’s most versatile bands consisting musicians from various parts of the globe.

UNK (The Radha Thomas Ensemble) are – Radha Thomas (Vocals), Aman Mahajan (Keyboards), Ramjee Chandran (Guitars), Matt Littlewood (Saxophones), Mishko M’ba (Bass Guitars) and Suresh Bascara (Drums).

At just a little under 38 minutes, ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ is a heady mixture of jazz and Indian; the eight track album consists of four originals, three straight-ahead jazz numbers and one Latin track.

It starts off with ‘Call’, one of the original compositions, which opens with a gentle guitar riff; Thomas’ voice is perfect jazz/blues material, husky but with a lovely smoky feel to it, and the Indian classical parts are a treat for the ears. The saxophone compliments her voice amazingly well too, sounding almost like a flute and highlighting the underlying Carnatic influence.

The next track, ‘Menina Moca’, meaning ‘young girl’ in Portugese, is a romantic number; the lyrics of this Latin jazz track are by Thomas herself. The percussions are pleasantly uplifting, something I would expect to hear around a campfire.

‘Connections’, the second original of the album, gives me the engrossing piano chords I was hoping to hear, which are perfectly blended with the bass and the sax. It’s got a slightly melancholy feel, which is brought forward by the amazing saxophone (kudos to Littlewood).

The third original, ‘Bluesette’, is fun and lively, encouraging a girl not to get depressed because of love. The lyrics impart a positive and hopeful vibe even in the midst of heartbreak.

The bass in ‘Refuge’ is astounding, capturing the desperate nature of the song. And Thomas does it again, flawless Indian classical at the end blending with the sax to prove once again just how culturally diverse yet musically similar the band members are. This would be my pick of the album.

The next track, ‘Almost Like Being In Love’, is another lively track, describing the typical signs of being in love. The hurried yet vivacious lyrics, the peppy beats and the overall jazzy feel make me want to tap my foot and twirl!

Number 7 on the list is the title track; with a strong Indian feel to it, this bluesy song is something straight out of an old English movie. I can almost imagine UNK performing this number in a dimly lit bar with smoke swirling everywhere.

The eighth and last track is ‘Watermelon Man’, a tribute to my favourite fruit, so naturally I love it! But this song with its hip-hop-y feel would cheer up anyone! The lively beats and vocals are a delightful mix, reminding me about the torturous summers and my cravings for watermelons!

UNK consists of seasoned musicians who know what they’re about, so there are no slip-ups or unnecessary embellishments in the album. I can’t stop raving about Thomas’ voice and Littlewood’s sax, they are just too awesome! The album, as a whole, has a lovely bluesy feel to it, and what I love about it is how each and every musician is given a chance to show off their skills, instead of focusing on only the vocalist or the drummer. It’s very evident that the all the artists thoroughly enjoyed working on the songs, and that lends this album its feel-good vibe.

 

http://eightoctaves.com/album-reviews/unk-the-radha-thomas-ensemble-i-only-have-eyes-for-you/

UNK: The Radha Thomas EnsemblePosted 14th May by 
The Radha Thomas Ensemble is truly impressive and unique. UNK is a wonderful album that aims to please and hits the target right in the bull’s eye. On the first track “Call,” Radha has created a melody and vocal style that’s an interesting combination of middle eastern music and soulful jazz. The production approach of capturing a “live” performance as opposed to a lot of effects and overdubs gives you a clear idea of what Radha Thomas (vocals), Aman Mahajan (keyboards), Ramjee Chandran (guitars), Matt Littlewood (saxophones), Mishko M’ba (bass), Suresh Bascara (drums) sound like! It’s a winning game plan to say the least.
“Meniña Moça” begins with sax, piano, and bass sharing the opening Latin figure, and the percussion answers the ensemble. Radha’s unique voice is smooth and sultry as she sings about a love that is true. The tenor sax solo was unhurried and melded into the laid back Latin flavor of the groove, with great subtones on his horn, and tasteful phrasing that responded to the lead vocals. The drummer used brushes instead of drumsticks and that really worked on this cut.I enjoyed “Connections,” with great chord changes and an ending cadence that reminds me of Chick Corea’s “Spain”. Very cool. By now, I was expecting fresh ideas in the melody… check. Great sax … soprano this time …check. And the band lays in the pocket with Suresh Bascara driving the rhythm section without overplaying. The piano introduction gives you a better idea of what Aman Mahajan will have in store when you go to see them in concert. Oh, you will certainly want to follow this group. I’m highly recommending the Radha Thomas Ensemble and giving them 5 Stars for having a fresher sound for the jazz fans who are seeking to expand their horizons. Listeners will be impressed with their approach to jazz classics like “Bluesette,” “Almost Like Being In Love,” and “Watermelon Man.” This is a refreshingly innovative jazz album!

IMG_5925

By Ayesha Tabassum

She’s an author, jazz vocalist, band leader and mother to a 27-year-old – but not in that order. Right now, the irrepressible Radha Thomas is floating in spiritual space because her album I Only Have Eyes For You has been playing across 100 radio stations.

Radha, who was trained in Hindustani classical under Kumar Gandharva himself before venturing into fusion, says she never expected it to be such a hit even with jazz peers like Ron McClure — best known as the bass player of the band Blood, Sweat and Tears.

She happened to discover her pianist Aman Mahajan online and realised he lived just around the corner about two years ago, after which they worked for a yearand-a-half and then recorded the album.

The other interesting fact that is one of the best kept secrets of the album is that Thomas penned the first song Call when she was just 19.

“It’s a kind of spiritual song, no matter which religion you belong to, the song belongs to you,” says Thomas, who is already planning the photoshoot and recording of her next album which begins in July.

Attagirl.

 

Appeared in Mumbai Mirror,

http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive&Source=Page&Skin=MIRRORNEW&BaseHref=MMIR/2013/06/07&PageLabel=4&EntityId=Ar00402&ViewMode=HTML

UNK in action
UNK in action

IMG_2895

By Arjun Varma

This distinctive jazz album from Bangalore based UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble has received accolade from the press and importantly, from peers of repute.

It is of no mean significance that an Indian jazz album should find popularity among hard-core jazz radio stations across the USA.

Over 100 radio stations across the States are currently playing tracks from the album. In several stations, the album has been listed as enjoying the Top 5, Top 10 and even #1 in some cases. This naturally makes Thomas extremely delighted. “It feels great to get this recognition. I’m now looking forward to the second album, which is well underway. The band had never been tighter. We’re also gigging a bit.”

Created and recorded in Bangalore’I Only Have Eyes For You’ (‘Eyes’) features a combination of original compositions and reinterpretations of jazz standards in a manner that is completely unique.

CD_Cover_Outer
According to US-based music publicist Lisa Reedy, UNK’s ‘Eyes’ is the first jazz album from India being played as widely across the US. Speaking to Explocity, other radio station owners echoed this sentiment. (Read interviews.)

This distinctive jazz album has received accolade from the press and importantly, from peers of repute. For instance, Ron McClure, best known as the bass player for the all-time famous band, Blood, Sweat and Tears said, “Provocative! Contempo to the max! You may have a hit on your hands! Wow! (The album) sounds so good! Really inventive stuff, with a lot of expression.”
Steve Gorn, American jazz flute player, “Radha – ‘Eyes’ is great! Loved your voice and the arrangements.”

Indian pop star Lucky Ali, long-time friend of Thomas said, “Eyes’ is stylish and cool… (smiley) That’s what its about. It comes across as I listen to the tracks (smiley).”

You can listen to the album here: http://www.reverbnation.com/unktheradhathomasensemble.

Thomas started out as the vocalist of a rock band called Human Bondage, popular in the late 70s and later moved on to perform at various jazz festivals across the world. She lived in New York for 20 years where she performed with celebrated jazz musicians including John Scofield, Michael Brecker, Alex Blake and Ryo Kawasaki among others. She has performed in some of New York’s most famous venues including Sweet Basil, The Bottom Line, Alice Tully Hall and others. Radha Thomas is a trained Dhrupad singer. Her inimitable style of incorporating cadenced nuances of Indian classical music with the dramatically different western jazz sets her apart as a unique artist.

On ‘Eyes,’ Thomas teamed up with pianist Aman Mahajan – a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Boston. Mahajan said, “It’s a great feeling, we worked really hard on this album and feels amazing to know that it’s being appreciated on such a huge level. This form of fusion music is something very new and innovative that we have attempted and having people accept it with so much love is a wonderful thing.”

The album has been getting excellent reviews both in India and abroad.
Michele-Wilson Morris of The Entertainment Bank says, “Oh, you will certainly want to follow this group. I’m highly recommending the Radha Thomas Ensemble and giving them 5 Stars for having a fresher sound for the jazz fans who are seeking to expand their horizons. Listeners will be impressed with their approach to jazz classics like Bluesette, Almost Like Being In Love and Watermelon Man. This is a refreshingly innovative jazz album!”

Maria Miaoulis of TheCelebrityCafe.com is unapologetic: “Thomas herself steals the spotlight with her sultry, smoky vocals. There’s a teasing, seductive quality to her voice that’s just absolutely hypnotizing. She holds your attention from start to finish, the rich timbre of her scats and effects putting you under a spell that you never want to break.”

INTERVIEW
Lisa Reedy, Music publicist, http://www.jazzpromotions.com, Reno, Nevada handles several jazz artists.

Q: How did you like the music personally?
A: I loved UNK’s music. It was such a refreshing and innovative take on jazz.

Q: We know the music is essentially jazz, but would you define it more narrowly? How?
A: I would define UNK’s music on this particular album as jazz / world fusion / pop. It’s one of the hippest groups out there and they definitely make jazz cool.

Q: Which song in the album was your favourite? And was there a moment for you on the album?
A: I loved them all, but Watermelon Man is my favourite because it is such a cool version of the song. It is so different from the original, which is also wonderful, but I love what UNK did with it. They also have a great video of Watermelon Man.

INTERVIEW
STeve Kinder, Classic Voices Classic Jazz, http://www.classicvoices.net, Chicago

Steve Kinder lives in Chicago and operates the Internet based jazz radio station, Classic Voices Classic Jazz The station is hosted on the live365.com network and is enjoyed by listeners in over 30 countries.

Q: Do you know of any other successful Indian jazz bands in the US?
A: I don’t know any other Indian jazz bands here in the US. That’s one reason I liked UNK’s music so much the first time I heard it. I had no idea there was a jazz scene in India, and it is always exciting to hear a new sound from other countries.

Q: How did you like the music personally?
A: I loved UNK’s music the first time I heard it. The first time I listened, it was one of those, “whoa, this is pretty great stuff” moments.

Q: We know the music is essentially jazz, but would you define it more narrowly? How?
A: I’m not sure how I would define the music other than jazz. I’m not a big fan of labelling music. To me good music is good music, regardless of how someone labels it.

Q: Which song in the album was your favourite? And was there a moment for you on the album?
A: My favourite song on the album is ‘Almost Like Being In Love’. That was the first cut we played from the album. It’s a very good version of that song.

Q: How do you measure the audience listening to the program and what has been the response so far to UNK’s music?
My station is an Internet radio station, so listeners are able to vote via the net on whether or not they like a song as it is played. The songs I played from the album did very well with our listeners. Both cuts that I’ve played from UNK’s album have been very popular with my listeners. They have both been some of the most popular songs I play on the station. I really think that shows that there is a real audience here in the US for jazz from other countries, including India.

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Contemporary jazz in its many avatars is catching the fancy of Generation Now, says Tania Bhattacharya

It has been a frenetically busy season for jazz duo Adil & Vasundhara. They’ve entertained audiences at two festivals in France and swung by to play in festivals in countries like Turkey and Bulgaria, that aren’t usually thought of as jazz centres. Closer home, they also made it to Jazzmandu in Kathmandu last year. This year, they’re criss-crossing India to promote their album Ampersand, which will be out this week.

Cut to the lawns of Nehru Park in the heart of diplomatic enclave where the crowds gathered recently to take in four evenings of peace, love and jazz at the Delhi International Jazz Festival from a string of Indian and international bands like Bangalore’s UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble, Ararat from Israel and Imany from France. Says Gina Savino, the incredibly versatile vocalist with the Oscar Acevedo Quartet from Columbia: “It was so emotionally fulfilling to see the crowd enjoy our music. There were little kids dancing in front of the stage!”

Did someone say jazz? Isn’t that soul music for a minute handful of elderly devotees? Surely, the younger generation raised on a diet of teenybopper stars like Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus aren’t tuning in to the mellow strains of saxophones?

But strain your ears and you’ll hear the rhythm of fresh contemporary jazz emerging from all over the country. From the south, you might get to hear the unexpected notes of jazz fused with, of all things, Carnatic music. And Goa and Delhi are going all out with Latin jazz, jazz funk and other forms of modern jazz.

What’s more, there are a string of events and jazz evenings being organised and that in turn is clearing the stage for newer bands to make their mark. Over the last year, at least half-a-dozen major festivals brought together jazz-lovers around the country. And the festivals brought international jazz artistes who, to make their trip to India worthwhile, toured India’s top cities.

Says Reuben Narain of the Delhi-based band, Drift: “There are more people now playing jazz, because of which the audience base is gradually increasing. Surprisingly, the people who follow our music come from varied age groups and social backgrounds.”

The fact is that today’s youngsters have eclectic tastes and are quite happy to add lots of jazz numbers to their playlist. One such person is e-learning professional Hirak Ganguly from Calcutta. Ganguly is a huge fan of rock ” roll, but he also loves listening to what’s called progressive jazz and jazz funk. “I love to listen to music that doesn’t follow a particular form, and I really take to elements of funk and rock in jazz,” he says.

Who are the stars of the Indian jazz world? There are Adil and Vasundhara, who’ve been together playing jazz and more for the last four years. And there’s the highly regarded Radha Thomas who has made a name for herself even though she still has a day job as executive vice president at Explocity, the online city guide. She even found time to debut with her novel, Men on My Mind in December.

It doesn’t matter if you are picky about your jazz. A bevy of talented musicians are playing everything from traditional and Latin jazz, to jazz funk, modern jazz, acid jazz and fusion jazz — in fact, there’s every combination of jazz out there that you could possibly want to hear. Ensembles like Syncopation, Drift, Fubar Ghetto, Cobbled Street, Peter Cat Recording Co, Tarun Balani Collective and Los Amigos are experimenting with all kinds of sounds and actually drawing crowds. And there are more clubs than ever before, so you’ll catch them regaling crowds at Blue Frog, Kala Ghoda or at the NCPA in Mumbai, The Living Room or Hard Rock Cafe in Delhi or Sol Villa and the Royal Goan Beach Club in Goa.

But it’s not just the big metros that are going all out to revive jazz in India and get enthusiasts grooving to the mellow beat. Ekaterina Belyakova, a Russian jazz enthusiast who settled in Goa after marrying an Indian, organises Jazz ” Goa, a six-day jazz festival in the state.

Jazz ” Goa hit the high notes last year, so for 2013 Belyakova put up two stages for simultaneous performances. “Jazz has grown so much recently. Today a number of tourists from India and the world come to Goa just to experience its jazz scene,” she says. Belyakova runs a travel company with her husband, so they’ve been promoting deals for international tourists who want to get a taste of both Goa and its throbbing jazz scene.

Goa is, in fact, a crucial spot on the Indian jazz map. Armando Gonsalves, CEO of Heritage Jazz in Goa, has been working to promote jazz in different ways. He says: “Goa has been central to the jazz revolution, and today it has become the taste of the state.” Heritage Jazz organises several jazz-centric events for social causes. It tries to ensure that jazz reaches everybody by organising worship jazz in churches, for instance. It has also introduced Konkani jazz (folk music fused with jazz). Occasionally, Gonsalves organises jazz evenings at his mansion too.

Closer home in Calcutta, look out for Mainak ‘Bumpy’ Nag Choudhury, a veteran of the Indian jazz scenario. The bassist with Kendraka, India’s prime contemporary jazz band, reckons that India is now on the brink of something enormous in terms of contemporary music. “Jazz invariably becomes a part of this scene considering the kind of all-encompassing genre it is and given our roots in it,” he says.

Bumpy — easily recognisable by his trademark fedoras — created Kendraka in 2009 with the aim of pushing boundaries in contemporary jazz. Today, the band tours the globe — think Switzerland, Slovenia, Japan and Croatia — with their music, and has made it to No Black Tie or NBT, a prestigious jazz club in Kuala Lumpur, jamming with well-known international jazz artists. Their best performance here was when they took the stage without any practice. “That’s the thing about jazz. You never know what’s in store,” he says with a grin.

It goes without saying that the local musicians are putting together their own albums and reaching out to wider audiences. So the Tarun Balani Collective working on a collaborative album for release this August. And Delhi-based Syncopation released an album recently, which the band recorded live. UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble is planning a second album as well, with original music. Balani, who trained in Berklee College of Music, also plans to take his band to a few jazz festivals in Europe and the US this year.

Of course, the Internet is an integral part of India’s recent jazz revolution. Take UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble, The band extensively uses web-based platforms such as Reverbnation, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook and YouTube to get its music across. Thomas’ rendition of Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man on YouTube is proof of her versatility, as she sings all the instrumental parts — the bass, drums, horns, percussion and of course, vocals, in her trademark resounding voice. But Thomas steers clear of corporate gigs. “Playing at intimate clubs is more satisfying for the kind of introspective music we do. It’s not boom-boom-bang-bang stuff, so I like smaller audiences,” she says.

There’s also Colin D’Cruz, a Goa-based jazz artist, who not only is a part of several jazz bands, but is also a producer and composer who constantly juggles mainstream jazz, contemporary jazz, blues-funk-jazz and Latin jazz. Also, he collaborates with international musicians and releases music on Internet radio stations for listeners all over the world. “It’s music without boundaries,” he says.

Experts will tell you that jazz was once very popular in India. And Indian bands were playing alongside world’s greatest jazz musicians some 60 or 70 years ago. “Jazz has been a part of India’s musical tradition from the early ’20s, when it was played at hotels in Calcutta. Later it became popular in Bombay and Madras and Delhi, and hill stations like Shimla and Mussoorie,” says Astri Ghosh, member of the group, Capital Jazz, which organises Jazz Utsav in Delhi every winter.

Not all these musicians make music as a profession. For example, the jazz funk band Cobbled Street is made up of students. And most artists from other bands had other professions until recently. Others, like D’Cruz, believe that one can live quite comfortably off jazz. “It is no longer excessively difficult

to be an independent musician. The way one looks at music as a career has now changed in our country,” say Adil and Vasundhara.

However, Calcutta is still on the fringes of the jazz world, with just one international quality festival — the Congo Square Jazz Fest — and a focused Latin jazz band, Los Amigos, founded by veteran musician, Monojit Datta. “We still depend on art agencies and foreign governments for funding support, because often local institutions don’t throw up enough capital,” says Satyajit Roychaudhury, an experienced jazz musician and president of the Congo Square Jazz Fest.

Nevertheless, the show goes on in smaller ways here; Roychaudhury testifies to the terrific time the smaller crowds have had in the recent Congo Square festivals. He says cheerily: “All we need is a true blue African American saxophonist to come down here and we’ll get all the crowd we need!”

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