The big daddy of jazz

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  • Published 23.09.06

The godfather of Indian jazz, Louiz Banks is in Calcutta to perform at The Park this weekend. Banks is here with his band The Jazz Messengers comprising son Gino Banks on drums, Sheldon D’Souza on the bass and Jesse Sheehan on tenor and soprano saxophone. The band will play at Roxy on Saturday for the jazz weekend.

“Someplace Else is the Mecca for musicians. The ambience is good and the audience supercharged. I love to play here,” said Banks, sipping on some Horlicks — yes, you read it right — at The Atrium. This was when the fate of his SPE show on Friday night was at the mercy of the weather gods.

Banks, of course, is no stranger to this city. “Calcutta is like my second home. This is where I became Louis (that’s how he spelt his name then) Banks,” he said.

Though Banks has played at Someplace Else many times before, it has usually been as a guest artist with Skinny Alley. “This is the first time I am playing with my band here,” he said, confident that the young musicians would strike the right chord with the Calcutta audience.

The father and son duo, along with D’Souza has done several shows together. And playing with his son has always been a thrilling experience for Banks. For him, Gino and D’Souza, “monsters at 22”, are the future of jazz and will lead the next generation of India to “jazz heights”.

The performance showcases Banks’s originals along with jazz standards and covers the range from traditional jazz to modern and fusion jazz. The jazz and wine evening at Roxy will witness some sophisticated and elegant pieces.

The set is entirely instrumental in order to take advantage of the presence of Sheehan, who, Banks says, is “a world-class saxophone player”.

Banks recently released a number of albums like Fusion Yatra, Music for Romance Volume II, and Karmasutra Code. The premier jazz pianist of India is now working on the music score for a Bollywood film, I Am In Love, directed by B.M. Mirza. The film, slated for release next year, will have a sound that will be an integration of western, jazz and funk with mainstream Bollywood.

Banks, who usually plays with Atma, Asia Electric and Silk, is looking forward to the five-city tour with Silk that starts next month. Also scheduled for December is a show with Remember Shakti (without John McLaughlin).

Eager to leave a jazz legacy behind, Banks is currently working on etudes for the piano that have melodic aspects, to appeal to the younger generation of musicians. With three-fourths of the composition complete, he is hoping to have it published by the end of the year.