Of music, energy and connection - American jams with Calcutta

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  • Published 22.03.06

The American musician?s daytime job brings him to India twice a year and very often to this city. After a few trips from San Francisco to Calcutta, he decided to explore the music scene here.

Searching for local bands on the Internet, the music of Krosswindz finally made the connection with David Dykstra. With another Calcutta trip looming on the horizon, he emailed the band, asking if he could make some music with them.

?That was 10 days ago. And here I am now,? smiled the soft-spoken and extremely polite Dykstra, sitting on a sofa at Krosswindz duo Bikramjit and Chandrani?s home-cum-studio on Tuesday afternoon.

Dykstra is a jazz keyboardist who has made albums of his own, played with Latin funk bands back home and opened for greats like Carlos Santana.

But at the session with Krosswindz, things are more freewheeling. ?I really want to start with a jam. Music is all about energy and connection. I want to see if there?s a connection here. If there is, that?s great. If not, that?s okay too,? offered the man who works in a financial company by day.

What followed was a jam in the Krosswindz studio that carried on for the next few hours. It took Dykstra the first few bars of the opening piece to get into the groove. A few minutes into the number, he was branching out into solos.

?The connection is definitely there,? agreed both Dykstra and Krosswindz, taking a breather a while later.

As a teenager, Dykstra had started out with the saxophone but soon shifted to the keyboard. ?I arranged, recorded and produced my first album in 1991, called A Gazelle Hunter?s Weekend.? He then joined the funk rock Bautista band and later founded La Ventana.

Dykstra?s first tryst with India was at 19, when, on a ?quest for the truth?, he made a trip to India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. ?I read the Upanishads and the Gita and felt I had to visit this country,? Dykstra recalled.

Things have changed since, but there?s something ?truly special? about rural India that takes Dykstra back to the villages almost every time he?s here. That and a trip to a Buddhist monastery in Karnataka, ever since he converted to Buddhism.

But the jam with Krosswindz is certainly the highlight of this trip.

?It was really nice of him to get in touch and come and play with us,? said Bikramjit. The band is recording the jam for possible inclusion in its next album, due in Puja 2006.