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Amyt Datta Trio: Music without boundaries

Unhurried, searching and definitive in direction, this is inspired creation with a to-die-for commitment

Shantanu Datta Calcutta Published 05.06.22, 05:23 PM
The Amyt Datta Trio in performance at Skinny Mo’s on Friday (June 3, 2022) in Calcutta

The Amyt Datta Trio in performance at Skinny Mo’s on Friday (June 3, 2022) in Calcutta Proshanto Mahato

A study of stark contrasts, various shades of grey, uncertainties as the only certainty of life were some of the ideas that the Amyt Datta Trio explored in technicoloured splendour on Friday night, the music transcending structures and genres to magically coalesce into a wholesome whole. Such is life!

Over the nearly five decades that Datta has nurtured the guitar as his go-to instrument, his music has undergone a sea change. Pop, rock and blues has given way to jazz and free-flowing improvisation wherein he now showcases thoughts and emotions, as though painting from a palette of auditory impulses. Never the one to rest on the mastery he has come to acquire on the instrument _ "It’s a weird instrument. Difficult… confusing," he has often said _ he pushes himself onto new frontiers.


Hence this concert, for which he reworked some of his old tunes to suit a trio of electric guitar, bass (Aakash Ganguly) and drums (Jivraj ‘Jiver’ Singh). The music, familiar to his band of students, may have been cerebral. But what made it accessible to the aficionado was the elegance of approach. Unhurried, searching, yet definitive in direction and cogent in thought and purpose. Jivraj's drums espoused a fluency befitting a seasoned pro and added to the colours that Datta was able to squeeze out of his guitar _ railroad growls combined startlingly with the sustained high-notes. A sharp jab here, a distorted tweak there or, at times, a sharp bend. Then a pause _ the void of momentary silence offering a window for yet another note to step in and make its presence felt. This was, as singer-songwriter-professor Bertie DaSilva had described, “expressiveness that goes beyond virtuosity”. Aakash's bass, unobtrusive yet authoritative, gave heft to the many textures in the manner in which he provided a framework for the tunes.

It was as though multiple artists were splashing paint on a ready portrait. Yet none of the colours seemed out of place. You still recognised the portrait. Only, it looked brighter.

There were stories too. One was about 'Lochness’, a tune Datta wrote on a flight after spotting a meandering river down below and being then reminded of the mysterious sea monster. 'Cisum' with a sampled score at initiation, is music spelt backwards; ‘Tyma’s Twins’ is an exposition on life and death and ‘Stain’ is the wound we often suffer metaphysically, not always bloody.

These tunes were played on a guitar using OTX (octave tuning experiment) in which the octaves are flipped _ in this case, the low E-string replaced by the high E-string. The tour de force was 'Love Undercover', the third track of the first set of tunes performed with this specially tuned guitar, a brown Fender of respectable vintage. A staccato start, aided by the drum-bass combo, feels its way through, embarking on a familiar journey that ends in unbridled joy once in sight of the comforting destination.

Friday night at Skinny Mo’s _ it could make for a cool title if the recording of this concert was ever to be released as an album_ held out a sobering promise. Music, pursued with passion, honesty and a to-die-for commitment, connects. For some, it may heal too.

Jivarj ‘Jiver’ Singh, Amyt Datta, Aakash Ganguly

Jivarj ‘Jiver’ Singh, Amyt Datta, Aakash Ganguly Proshanto Mahato

The Amyt Datta Trio

The Amyt Datta Trio Proshanto Mahato


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