Jazz Yatra

(Published in "Studio Systems" Mar-Apr 2002 issue)

The bi-annual event that every jazz lover in the country looks forward to was finally with us again. Since its start in 1978, I have been fortunate to be a regular visitor to this music happening and it has served in many ways to revitalise me and expose me to the future of self-expression in music. Jazz has, as its essential component the element of improvisation and this is what makes it soul brothers with Indian Classical music. Many Indian Musicians have taken to this new form like duck to water especially as today, Jazz has embraced just about every culture that exists on this earth. In fact, in its present form, it can be totally mistaken for something other than the standard American blues/bebop variety.

Thankfully, Jazz India had finally decided that Indian Musicians needed a Jazz Yatra all to themselves and what was presented in April in Mumbai was a totally Indian affair. It was great to see Indians finally getting their place in the sun and at times excel at what is perceived to be a foreign art. Truthfully, Music belongs to the entire world and has no language and the three-day event was proof of that! Jazz India has now informed its members that the Indian Jazz Yatra will be an annual event and we can now be sure that many more musicians will be enthused to enter this magic world and stretch the boundaries of their creativity


I have often heard from music industry folks that the music of today is not selling because it is not as good as before and yet it is they continue to release mediocre albums along with popular and safe remix albums. They have shirked their responsibility to develop budding talent and give them the boast in their initial years so that they can reap the benefits of their talent later. In the seventies, if it wasn't for the Simla Beat contest, there couldn't have been those dozens of beat groups who would channelise their creative energies into making music. As a kid, I remember practicing for months so that we could win this contest and this goal inspired us to realize our potential and even outdo ourselves. The Indian Jazz Yatra will also serve that purpose at a higher level. The numerous Hindi talent shows have thrown up a great number of singers and thankfully because of Meri Awaaz Suno" we have a singer of the capability of Sunithi Chavan as one of the promising Playback singers of the Hindi Film Industry.
The importance of a platform to nurture talent cannot be underestimated and it is the responsibility of the Music Industry to sponsor this responsibility. After all, talent is the raw material of this industry and if they do not insure its proliferation, they are virtually insuring their death! This venture will have to be done consistently so that rewards may follow. Also, this cannot be a one shot program as results can only appear over a period of time. The accent of this program will have to be on creativity rather than imitating. The Simla Beat contest forced us to start composing, as we had to enter the original song category. This required us to use all our collective creative forces to try and come up with something new however mediocre it may have been at that time. After all, this was the first time that we were attempting to write our own songs. Unfortunately, today's corporate world needs instant results and nobody wants to invest their time, energy and money on a program that does not generate profits immediately.
Herein lies the difference between a mature industry and otherwise and the responsibility for this lies solely in the hands of the CEO. It is he who has the vision of the company as his focus and he would have to counter all sorts of opposition within his company so that he can allocate funds to a long-term program of this nature. After all short-term gains and quick promotions is the name of the game in the corporate jungle. No wonder, when things get hot, Music Industry heads quickly change jobs to join other industries while the company is left holding the baby!


The one point program of the present Indian government to totally criminalize Indian society seems to be the only plan that will meet its target, if the ridiculous plans of the Finance minister are to be enforced. Almost the entire business community and professionals of the nation have been brought under the ambit of the notoriously corrupt Excise and Sales departments of the Central and State governments. More and more powers have been given to these officers who now can search your homes and offices without warrant if they suspect evasion.
The erstwhile finance minister who incidentally happens to hail from Bihar, the most corrupt state in the nation should well be aware of the dangers of putting the people's lives at the mercy of the unfortunately corrupt bureaucracy that has proliferated in our country due to the control Raj over the last fifty years. The only option left to the people doing legitimate business in these difficult recession times would be to cheat further on their taxes. Corruption would naturally follow and this would result in a spiraling wave of depravity. The strangulating tax regime of earlier governments have ensured that the entire nation is well educated in the art of cheating and there is not a person who has not cheated in his tax returns. The continuation of these regressive policies in times of liberalization is a joke in the face of the Indian people.
As I write this article, the finance minister has fortunately withdrawn the recent excise imposition on cassette duplication with its amazingly complicated and dumb way of computing the tax (using the royalty paid to the artist etc.). This was a surefire way to increase corruption in a industry that is already beset by huge problems. The impeding news of the closure of recording companies and important executives losing their jobs have become the lot of the music industry and the actions of the government seemed like the final nail in the coffin!


Audio Delivery

Recently, the British section of AES organized a two-day seminar on "Audio Delivery: The changing home experience", a subject close to my heart as it will virtually decide the future of the music industry as we know it. The captains of the music related industry spoke about their predictions about the future and what it holds for all of us. The exciting new ways to deliver Audio to the home both alone and accompanied by other media: i.e. pictures, text, hyperlinks etc. facilitated with the rapid increase in data bandwidth has stimulated a range of new services and technologies to provide audio in a variety of forms. No longer can audio in the home be quantified by counting records, cassettes or CDs and the days of physical distribution could be numbered. Perhaps buying a CD tomorrow will be like buying sheet music today, a specialist niche for high-end enthusiasts.
Recording and mastering engineers will need to understand the new possibilities for the music they create and infrastructure engineers will need to understand the implications of decisions they take. A new and growing breed of engineer will specialize in home installations to provide new levels of experience in the home.


BERKLEE School of Music

Earlier, Music education in India was mainly an unorganized sector with individuals and small music academies doing the majority work. The last decade has seen Universities in India take on this work to a professional level and today you can get a Masters in Music from leading Universities in India. The one area of Music education, which has however received no attention from the organized sector in India, is education in Popular music. The BERKLEE School of Music in Boston, USA is one such organization that is world renowned in the education of Jazz and now Rock/Pop music. They have a world renowned faculty and it is the dream of many an Indian Rock and Jazz musician to enter the portals of this prestigious college of music and receive the finest music education available in the world
Samuel D. Skau, the deputy director of admissions was in town recently to address potential applicants and take them through their questions. Dhanraj, as I knew him when he was in Bombay, used to play in the Rock band "Atomic Forest" some years after I stopped singing for them. He subsequently went to study at BERKLEE and is now working for them. Naturally, he has a special interest in his fellow countrymen's musical future and is a source of great strength and support to Indian musicians wishing to enter this amazing school. He took us through the entire curriculum and explained the various courses offered along with hostel facilities, fees, scholarships etc. Indian musicians should avail of this excellent opportunity to use the services of a friend and study at one of the most renowned and professional music college of the world.

Nandu Bhende

homesite :http://nandu_bhende.tripod.com












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