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Distant beat of rhythm divine

We’ve all heard Enrique sing about how he loves to see people cry. Whether we can figure out why or not (hey, he doesn’t know himself, remember'), the pop chartbuster is about to make the few million fans who can’t make it to his concert howl.

First, Ricky Martin sneaked into town without so much as a “Maria” for his devotees. Now, the heir to the Latin sex-symbol crown will hit Mumbai on April 11 and Bangalore on April 13, and as usual, Calcutta is nowhere to be seen on the concert list. Music lovers have enough reason to crib, with Bryan Adams and Rolling Stones passing us by (a whisker), as well.

But if the music doesn’t come to the crowds, the crowds try their best to make it to the music. “We have sold at least 2,000 to 3,000 tickets in Calcutta for each of our concerts,” explains Venkat Vardhan, owner, DNA Networks, which was behind the major international gigs passing through the country.

He is assuming that there will be quite a few groupies making the pilgrimage to see the Iglesias boy live, too. Given that Enrique’s name seldom slips off the city stores’ top 10, this seems a done deal. “Bryan Adams doesn’t go out of fashion, but to bring a current sensation of Enrique’s stature, at the peak of his career, is completely different,” the Bangalore-based promoter adds. More than the usual turnout is expected from the east for the two concerts, both of which, DNA hopes, will draw a total crowd of around 20,000-25,000.

For all of you lucky enough to catch the mayhem live, here is the low-down, in brief, on the Bailamos bombshell’s India debut. Ramps running into the audience promise more than a distant look at Enrique. State-of-the-art digital giant screens will allow even those stuck in the back a front-row feel. A 10-piece band that Enrique — “known for his theatrical stage shows” — is bringing with him, should recreate his “rhythm divine”.

cutta has a fantastic music-loving crowd, and as soon as the government is more facilitating about such shows, the city is sure to be on the list,” says Vardhan. Whether that reassures you, or makes you feel like pulling your hair out, there is, at least, a glimmer of hope for the next round of rock.

Piano man

The tinkling notes of Twinkle, Twinkle waft in as one approaches the 130-year-old colonial residence. By the time one sets foot on the red floors, the nursery rhyme gives way to a classical rendition. “That was the 12 variations of Ah! vous dirai-je, maman by Mozart,” announces the pianist.

Meet 22-year-old musician Joseph Azavedo. The Calcutta-based Goan Joseph’s baptism in the world of music was at age six. His father, Dominic Azavedo, is “virtually a one-man band”, playing everything from the accordion to piano, violin, guitar and mouth organ. Joseph chose to play both piano and violin. “Goans have music in their blood,” smiles Joseph. He honed his gift under Sam F. Engineer, a fellow of The Trinity College of Music, London, and went on to earn the Associate of Trinity College, London certificate with distinction.

“The young today are not too enamoured by classical music. I have to pep up my performances with lively, popular music,” shrugs Joseph, who vividly remembers his first stage performance in school (St Xavier’s), while in Class III. “I played a duet on violin along with my elder sister Cecilia at the age of eight for a show on Doordarshan called Telescope, and I enjoyed myself so much that I did it in one take,” he grins.

Joseph has composed music for the young theatre group, Theatrecian. His melodies have featured in two stage productions — There Is Something About Nemo and Lock and Key — and the telefilm Hi Mom.

Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin come as easily to the young artiste as Celine Dion (he is remembered as the Titanic guy for playing My Heart Will Go On once for a chapel service and getting a standing ovation). Beethoven’s pieces appeal because of their “sadness and sweetness”, but he is equally at home with Mozart, and has become a fixture at Calcutta School of Music’s monsoon concerts.

Joseph admits that over the years, his focus has shifted to the piano, as “concentrating on two instruments was becoming too hectic”. He is also studying for the chartered accountancy exams and is under articleship with a private firm. “A successful musical career in this country is suspect, so one has to have a security factor built in,” he feels.

Patience pays

George Michael fans haven’t had it so good for years. After being forced to wait for a rare glimpse of their hero in a charity concert or in a sneak paparazzi shot — and hang on to an album or two a decade — their patience has finally paid off. The past few days have marked the comeback of man Michael.

Patience — his first album of original work since 1996’s Older — has just been released around the world to the usual raves and rants from critics. And in the lead up, Michael has managed to shock, yet again. On BBC’s Radio 1, he crowned Patience his last album to be available commercially. All his music in future would be available on the Net for free, with an option to donate to charities of his choice, announced music’s saint Michael.

For Michael’s fans in the city, the album arrived in the major stores this week, only two days after the world-wide release. And the initial response — even in these lean, mean, exam-ridden days — has been encouraging. According to Sony Music, sales will pick up once the music-buying crowd is a little free to... well, buy music. So, special offers and contests are on hold till then. For now, only a five-pack CD case comes free with the CD.

“We’ve already sold over 45 cassettes and 20 CDs and expect the album to enter our top five chart by the end of the week,” says MusicWorld. “Queries have been coming in since the beginning of March and sales are looking good now,” echoes Emami Landmark.

The album is already making waves on the international charts with the first single Amazing holding top spot for a few weeks. Criticism for Amazing has ranged from “long-limbed and light-footed sliver of dance” to “poppy, radio-friendly summer anthem”.

The rest of the album includes Michael’s trademark dance tracks — Flawless (Go To The City), Please Send Me Someone (Anselmo’s Song) — and ballads such as the title track and John & Elvis Are Dead (composed on John Lennon’s piano that Michael has bought). But above all that, there’s the exuberance and frankness with which he sings about his sexuality and life in general.

Priced at Rs 299 (CD) and Rs 100 (tape), Patience is a must-buy for every George Michael fan and then some.

Victory anthem

If cricket’s in the air, can ‘inspirational’ music be far behind' To cash in on the India-Pakistan series, Sony Music has released a compilation of Indipop songs, matching the Ten Sports catch phrase — and the Prime Minister’s mood — of Jeet Lo Dil.

The title track is the only new one, sung by Strings and Euphoria, which apparently is also the “official anthem” of the series. The rest are hits by popular artistes of the genre, including Lucky Ali’s Dekha Hai, Junoon’s Sayonee and KK’s Yaaron.

A buy for the boys in blue. Price: Rs 145 (CD), Rs 55 (tape).

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