Subharaj Ghosh Trio unveils a tribute to Willie Walters and gigs on some cool jazz standards

The threesome work well together; Subharaj's languid guitar lays out the tune, Aditya's bass rolls off, while Arya's drums hold the groove, all giving a fresh feel to timeless tunes

Shantanu Datta Published 17.06.24, 07:57 PM
The Subharaj Ghosh Trio in performance at Skinny Mo’s Jazz Club. (From left) Subharaj, Arya Mukherjee and Aditya Servaia

The Subharaj Ghosh Trio in performance at Skinny Mo’s Jazz Club. (From left) Subharaj, Arya Mukherjee and Aditya Servaia TTOnline

A celebratory doff to the masters and two originals, one of which in heartfelt tribute to a bass legend of our times, all along incorporating various musical styles in kinship with the art form known as jazz, pretty much sums up Subharaj Ghosh Trio's offering last weekend at Skinny Mo's, the Manohar Pukur Road gallery of many delights that has, over the course of only a few years, seeped into Kolkata's musical DNA.

It is with sheer dedication and love that the trio approach the musical adventures of stalwarts like Miles Davis and John Coltrane, allowing the original horn-driven tunes to set sail via a guitar, bass and drum combo. The syncopated seduction of ‘Softly, As In The Morning Sunrise’ got the crowd hooked with Subharaj Ghosh, Aditya Servaia and Arya Mukherjee unspooling their ouvre gradually, allowing the myriad colours of the notes to show up partially in joyous anticipation. As Subharaj's languid play on his FGN NCLS guitar lays out the tune, Aditya's bass (Sire Marcus Miller) rolls off, as if on to some greener pasture. Arya's drums (TAMA) hold the groove and somewhere in-between emerges a fresh feel to what is an old tune. At times slow, soft. Then, some brisk fun.


Yes, we are only warming up — the air conditioning works, (vital on such scorching Saturdays), beverages are in full flow with smoked Bandel Cheese Croquettes moving fast. The redoubtable Susmit Biswas's laudatory introduction of the Subharaj Ghosh Trio as being a lot more than the "sum of its parts" is already on display!

The jazz standard, ‘Stella By Starlight’, is delicately perched, leaning on finesse, the overall feel accentuated by a thoughtful drum solo replete with subtle flourishes on Arya's twin snares and a lone cymbal. Miles Davis's All Blues is next, highlighted by an adventurous bass solo that's nice 'n groovy.

‘Blues for Willie’ is dedicated to musician and mentor William Walters, who was an integral part of the musical evolution of Calcutta from the 1960s till the 2020s, the one man who has been a key part of all the city's top bands at some point of time. The trio knew him well, particularly Arya, who was in Willie's quartet playing regular weekends at Trincas till his untimely demise. Slow and meditative, the tune is a showcase, an imaginary conversation if you will, to "thank him and tell him all that we couldn't", explained Arya.

‘Little Things’, the only other original of the evening, owes its roots to Subharaj's musical journey -- "all the little things I got to do and learn" -- coming together in what is a show stealer of a tune, a seamless compendium, both contemplative and celebratory.

Subharaj's playing is all about understated exuberance. It's exploratory but also reticent at times, as if he is waiting to savour the moment of having arrived somewhere new. It is the hallmark of this trio, in full display earlier too while executing Four (Miles Davis) prompting a young listener to whisper in my ear, "they work really well together". They do. They sing, fly and land together. Willie would approve!

I am happy to note, and presume those at Skinny Mo's Jazz Club that evening will agree, that the Subharaj Ghosh Trio gig worked well. I for one found myself going back to the standards the threesome re-imagined, and in the process, re-discover their ageless wisdom and beauty all over again. Kind of cool.

The evening's set list

The evening's set list

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