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Amyt Datta’s West Coast Session lives up to promise with flair and finesse

Rishav Debnath's keyboard-like cushion on a second guitar allows the primary tunes to flower within a super-tight drum-bass-percussion combo

Shantanu Datta | Published 22.11.23, 03:55 PM
The Band: Soumojit Das (from left), Deboprotim Baksi, Amyt Datta, Rishav Debnath, Chiradeep Lahiri (not in pix)

The Band: Soumojit Das (from left), Deboprotim Baksi, Amyt Datta, Rishav Debnath, Chiradeep Lahiri (not in pix)

There is a certain kind of joy music lovers experience when a brand new tune reveals itself as both surprising in its newness and also innately satisfying for its familiar flourishes. No wonder then that the mood was upbeat by the time the two-hour set of tunes, billed as West Coast Session, was wrapped up late into the night at Skinny Mo's late on Friday.

Helmed by guitar guru Amyt Datta, the concert was a celebration of a particular sound and feel that emanated from Los Angeles, California in the USA of the '80s. Propelled by the likes of Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour and, say, the ensemble Fourplay, the music is an amalgamation of sprightly ideas encompassing wholesome melodies, jazz harmonies and languid guitar solos firmly encased in an array of grooves -- funky, leisurely, mildly urgent and even frenetic.


Datta's band, playing his compositions written specifically for the concert, was free-flowing in the unravelling of the tunes, but remained strictly disciplined in their execution. Two guitars (Amyt Datta, Rishav Debnath), bass (Soumojit Das), drums (Chiradeep Lahiri) and percussion (Deboprotim Baksi) were able to spread, tune after tune, an air of breeziness that deceptively hid layers of musical complexity.

So, if the first tune, which also served as the concert title, was like a comfortable but purposeful walk in the park aided by a steady drum beat, Blues For Gary offered a change of tempo. With an authoritative roll of the bass and some guitar tonal variety as accompaniment, the walk seemed to have morphed into a jog only to sign off on a mischievous note. When the Lights Go Down changed the ambience yet again, as though twilight had set in and it was closing time at the park.

By then though the soundscape had come alive; two guitars adding colour and shine to a storyboard of rhythmic patterns with Datta shouldering most of the heavy riffing with finesse. But it was Rishav's keyboard-like cushion on the second guitar with jazz chord embellishments that allowed the primary tunes to flower with flair, thanks also to a tight drum-bass-percussion combo.

Eye Candy was a doff to Steely Dan. Datta said as much as he let his Don Grosh guitar launch a conversation amid a super funky beat and a neat percussion interlude. Something About You was this serenely beautiful tune, coming after the melodic Fret to Fret.

There is always a story behind a tune. And so it was good to have the normally reticent Datta break from the past and speak at length on each. So, Blues for Gary is dedicated to his long-time friend who had introduced Datta to his musical compatriots (Gyan and Jayshree Singh) from back in the day, while the genuinely funky Earl Street is an ode to his walk back from the residence of their son Jiver (Jiveraj Singh, one half of duo Parekh & Singh).

Young Soumojit held his nerve and played some impeccable bass. Chiradeep's drumming was spot on, alternatingly exuding restraint and exuberance, especially during the rhythmic interplays with percussionist Deboprotim who told me how he had to fall back on chord charts to keep track of the many changes in time signatures.

West Coast Session was a delightful gig not just because it more than lived up to its promise. It was a heartfelt collaboration to bring to life a delectable genre of music and primed us for an encore.

Now, for an idea. This concert, as My Kolkata has reported, was the result of a gift that Datta received from a friend who lives in Mumbai. If Ehsaan Noorani's Don Grosh guitar could inspire Datta to a West Coast Session, which also included a track (Village X) from his D For Brother days with Monojit 'Kochu' Datta, maybe a joint concert is in order.

Give it a thought, you two.

Don Grosh: Ehsaan Noorani’s gift to Amyt Datta

Don Grosh: Ehsaan Noorani’s gift to Amyt Datta

Last updated on 22.11.23, 05:09 PM

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