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Home » My Kolkata » People » Meet Aakash Ganguly, the ‘Bass-man’ firing up the bands of Amyt Datta, Anjan Dutt and many more


Meet Aakash Ganguly, the ‘Bass-man’ firing up the bands of Amyt Datta, Anjan Dutt and many more

‘We have all grown up listening to Anjan-da’s songs. So, I am familiar with the songs... it is great fun to play with them. They are all very nice people’

Shantanu Datta | Published 13.02.24, 04:52 PM
Aakash Ganguly with Anjan Dutt's band

Aakash Ganguly with Anjan Dutt's band

My Kolkata

He started playing the tabla, accompanying his mother singing Rabindrasangeet. Then some friends, who were looking for a bass player, asked him. He agreed to pick up the instrument and began enjoying the process, finding as he did an immediate connect with the ‘baaya’ of the table,especially the tonality and the galloping situations that come up while playing”. Rigorous practice sessions and YouTube lessons followed, with Aakash Ganguly spending almost his entire waking hours with the instrument. Then, he met guitar guru Amyt Datta, which he describes as a life-changing event for him.

Today, Aakash is one of the most sought-after bass players of Kolkata, juggling gigs and energising a number of top-notch musical ensembles like the Amyt Datta Electric Power Quartet, The Arinjoy Trio, Saturday Night Blues Band and of course Anjan Dutt’s band that’s getting ready for a tour of the US later this year. In an exclusive conversation with My Kolkata, Aakash talks about his journey, juggling genres and the pure joy of listening to your own music on vinyl.

Aakash Ganguly

Aakash Ganguly

My Kolkata

My Kolkata: Hi, Aakash. Your set at Jazz fest 2023 at Dalhousie Institute with The Arinjoy Trio was wonderful.

Aakash: Thank you.

And you guys have a vinyl out?

Yes, the credit for that goes to Aveek Chatterjee. The amazing thing about the vinyl is that it makes a heaven and hell difference. It is as though I am hearing ourselves play while sitting in the audience. It is not like this when we hear the same album in wav or mp3 formats. This is the kind of vibe a vinyl exudes.

You are part of many bands, like say, the Amyt Datta Electric Power Quartet, Anjan Dutt’s band and of course The Arinjoy Trio. Have I left out any?

I am also with Pota O Morudyan, a band founded by Abhijit ‘Pota’ Barman (Cactus). I used to play with Sumit Ramachandran and Plan B and also the Saturday Night Blues Band that‘s been recently revived.

How is it playing with Anjan Dutt and his band that also includes, famously I might add, Amyt Datta, Neel Dutt and Debopratim ‘Tukai’ Bakshi?

We have all grown up listening to Anjanda’s songs. So, I have been familiar with the songs. They have a nice Bengali, Dylan-ish singer-songwriter vibe. I got to know Neel during a recording session for a film. That’s how I got to know all of them. Somehow, they find me very convenient in a studio set-up. I used to do my homework and reach there. Also, hiring studios can be an expensive proposition. I don’t take much time. And I used to save them a lot of money (laughs).

It is great fun to play with them… they are all very nice people. And playing with Tukaida (drums) is always a joy. We were in Ziba together and so there’s this inherent coordination among us. And of course Amytda is there too.

Aakash Ganguly with The Arinjoy Trio

Aakash Ganguly with The Arinjoy Trio

My Kolkata

How is it in The Arinjoy Trio?

Arinjoy (Sarkar), Sounak (Roy) and I go back a long way. We used to jam together a lot. So the experience is always relaxing and fun. As the years passed, Arinjoy started focussing on blues guitar playing and writing songs and asked us to join in. Musically, the core idea is Arinjoy’s and we all contribute. Sounak has that funk groove, Tower of Power kind, syncopated grooves and shuffles. I too have had that R&B, funk influence. Sounak and I help with the arrangements of the tracks, say, a bridge here, rework the ending a bit, etc.

And with Amytda?

Playing with Amytda is enjoyable too. But it is intimidating. You have to listen and be attentive all through, because there’s too much information that you need to process at a time. You are totally consumed.

Amytda’s music is challenging for any musician.

Yes, and more so for me because I have played the same music with various band combinations. With Dwaipayan (Saha, cajon) it was something else, given the acoustic set-up. With Jiver (Jivraj Singh) it was, again, different, because he approaches Amytda’s music in a different way. A drummer transforms the band. The time and feel always change. I have learnt a lot about the sonic palette from Jivraj. He is a complete musician.

Aakash Ganguly with the Amyt Datta Power Quartet after having opened for Steve Vai at JW Marriot Hotel in Kolkata

Aakash Ganguly with the Amyt Datta Power Quartet after having opened for Steve Vai at JW Marriot Hotel in Kolkata


How do you manage to juggle so many different genres of music? Does it get taxing at times?

Initially, I used to find it a bit challenging. But then, I thought, why not take it as just another language, a tool to communicate. Like if you know multiple languages you can travel anywhere and communicate easily. Ultimately, it’s about playing for the music and surrendering to it, rather than playing what I know. Touch and articulation of the notes will change because I am speaking a different language when I am playing with different bands. I realised it’s always better to hear the music and play rather than have me play the music. It is philosophical, and many people will say this. But this is a fact. This is the only way of life.

How long have you been playing bass?

Honestly, I started playing professionally sometime in 2008-09.

Talk to us about your journey?

As a youngster, I used to play tabla with my mother, accompanying her on Rabindrasangeet and other songs. Later, on the persuasion of friends, I picked up the bass, purely out of necessity since there was no one else to play it. So, I gave it a shot. I always liked the bass and once I started I related it to the “baaya” of the tabla, especially the tonality and the galloping situations that come up while playing. I sort of connected to that. Then, I started taking classes from a friend brushing up scales, arpeggios, the A, B, C, D of music. I went on to be a metal bass player!

Soon, I wanted to explore the harmonic side of the music and started exploring jazz. I remember being hooked to Return to Forever, and I used to follow Stanley Clarke keenly. This went on for some time… and then, I ended up meeting Amyt Datta. Then life changed totally.


Amytda introduced me to music and provided an understanding of what music really is. It was as if I had taken the blue pill, as they say. I joined his classes for some time, primarily to understand where I was musically.


Throughout the early years, I used to study music a lot and there came a time when I needed to know whether I had learnt and understood the various aspects of music correctly. I used to diligently follow lessons and exercises on YouTube courses. I used to be with the instrument through the day, almost 12 hours a day. But, you know, I soon realised that I had no one to tell me whether my understanding was indeed correct. So, I joined Amytda’s classes for a while, to try and figure that out. Fortunately, I realised I was on the right track. And I realised that I had to work more on it.

You are primarily self-taught? Was it difficult?

I wanted to be able to play all kinds of music. Hence, I tried to venture out into various styles, be it western classical or semi classical. I also took cello lessons for a while to understand the bass better. I also realised the two ways of practice, ie, with or without the instrument. Looking back, I realise that I may have taken more time. But the good thing is that the early mistakes I made in learning various aspects of the instrument led me to discover new elements of the instrument.

You teachers?

I never had a dedicated bass teacher though. But I was clear about one thing: I should be able to sound like myself, me and my right hand tone and left hand touch. On Instagram, whenever I hear others playing, they all seem to sound the same. That is what I don’t want to be.

A quick rundown of, say, five of your favourite bass players?

Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke of course. Then there’s Giuseppe Henry ‘Pino’ Palladino (Jeff Beck, The Who, John Mayer Trio), Jimmy Johnson (James Taylor, Stan Getz, Steve Gadd) and also Fima Ephron (New York sessions musician, played with Walter Becker, Mishel Ndgeocello). Actually, there are many more. For instance, I try to follow Garry Willis (Wayne Shorter, Dennis Chambers, Allan Holdsworth) technique.

At this stage what fulfils you musically the most?

Playing with Amytda and The Arinjoy Trio. Amytda’s music is exploring each and every corner in detail. It is like being in a hurdle race. With Arinjoy it is fun and relaxed… like a nice, relaxed jog in the park.

What are you working on now?

I am now involved with Amytda’s new album release, helping out with fixing some tech glitches. Additionally, The Arinjoy Trio, of which I am a part, is thinking of recording some new music. I am also working with Premjit (Dutta) to try and experiment with a drums-bass combo and develop our sonic palette to see where that takes us. And of course there are the gigs as and when they happen.

Who are you listening to these days?


On that ‘high’ note, thank you for talking to us.

Thank you, always a pleasure.

Last updated on 13.02.24, 04:52 PM

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