Rupa Biswas had her moment in the spotlight on Day One of JazzFest 2023 at Dalhousie Institute, concluding what was a lovely start to the music festival, a physical live avatar of which was unveiled for the first time in three Covid-hit years in Kolkata on Friday.
The 70-year-old sang her song, Aaj Shanibar, from her lovingly resurrected album of yore, Disco Jazz (1982). She joined in vocal duties with Tritha and her band, put together with star Kolkata musicians for the show. Rupa may have missed a few cues, but that did not matter. The audience loved to see her on stage singing her song as Mainak 'Bumpy' Nag Chowdhury's buoyant bass riffs ensured the song got off on a foot-tapping note.
If Tritha's was the closing act, interspersed with positive vibrations from a raga and a Buddhist prayer gong, along with messages of love for Mother Earth, the Roncha Trio set the mood at the beginning. Lovely melodies on the keys and adequately sophisticated bass lines ensured the set wasn't too heavy to begin with. The audience loved it, and JazzFest 2023 got off to an excellent start.
But the band of the evening was clearly Four On A Swing. It was amply evident they play together regularly, framing each and every jazz standard they performed with the right dose of respect and chutzpah. The musicians were all of a very high standard, Pradyumna Manot on the keyboard as band leader, Aditya Servaia with his grin and ever-changing facial expressions, nailing the bass parts and the understated Aamir Rizvi on lead guitar. But Bihu Mukherjee on the drums was outstanding with his fluency, control and the choice of aggression. He played in service of the songs they performed, classics and happy Cuban ditties. A student of the late Monojit 'Kochu' Datta, Bihu is sure to go places.