In an unprecedented initiative to bring different cultures and traditions from north east India together, Tata Trusts, Banyan Tree and Ninaad brought together artists, old and new. The outcome is a record called Brahmaputra Raga Jazz with tracks by bands from the region who were selected by holding a contest. This record was then launched at the Brahmaputra Raga Jazz on March 25, 2018.
Under the mentorship of veteran musicians Rudy Wallang and Debashish Bhattacharya, five bands were picked out to present their stories and talent over the course of a four-hour concert under the evening lights at India Habitat Centre’s amphitheatre. They were well-received by an audience who cheered on and participated from start to the end. One volunteer named Keshav especially stood out among them all, playing a traditional drum from the region with the guest act, Summersalt .
With bands from various genres such as The Pirates (Math/Pop Rock) and Jambili (Folk/Rock) to Traffic Jam (Fusion/Hard Rock ) and Empirical Tribe (Hard Rock) and Blueprint Dives (Experimental/Blues), the evening had quite a few surprises. At one point, the crowd participated in a traditional victory tune called ‘Hoi Kyu’ encouraged by Kit Shapliang from Summersalt. He also spoke of the struggles of artists from the region who keep at it despite the adversities they face.
Solon Hrangate, who handles guitar duties for The Pirates, says it was a privilege to be mentored by such amazing and well-known musicians as Rudy Wallang and Debashish Bhattacharya. As a band that was formed barely a year ago, this was a huge milestone for us, says Hrangate, and the advice we received from them was priceless. We were very honoured to have been a part of it, he added.
Daniel Engty Kathar from Jambili said, “Rudy sir shared his journey from Great Society to Soulmate,” covering topics like the technicalities of recordings and having high regard for values such as discipline, punctuality and respecting each other.
Beyond the performances, the artists spoke about concerns about the environment, protecting endangered animals like the one-horned rhino, and the struggles faced by people who look different from other Indians. The artists also spoke of determination and how not giving up had got them to the stage on which they were now presenting their compositions to an amazing audience. The musicians were especially proud of presenting a variation of classics like Bhupen Hazarika’s ‘Bistirno Parore’ which speaks of the Brahmaputra (or Luit) river that has inspired people of the region for a long time.
Without a doubt, there were many people who went back inspired to commit themselves to what they absolutely love and feeling the energy and aura of something which might seem alien to some but is integral to the Indian ethos.
The compilation record has two songs by each band and will be out on Ninaad (www.ninaadmusic.com).
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