It was only a matter of time that this was bound to happen. Acclaimed artiste Purbayan Chatterjee, a sitar player and composer, conceptualised India’s first Indian language Jazz album. Known for his invention of the Dwo, a take-off from sitar, Chatterjee’s contemporary approach is definitely a feature to look forward to his upcoming album, Trialogue.
“This is the first purely Jazz album. Besides, it’s more like a three-way conversation taking place between three singers, three composers and three instrumentalists on board. In a way, it’s like a Rubik’s Cube,” relates the Mumbai-based artiste, sharing his fascination of the triad structure to the people behind the album.
Speaking about how the album took shape, he explains the triangular structure is most diverse and fascinating. “There is an Afro Jazz guitarist, Maxwell Vidimma, on the guitar along with Manuel Hermia on the saxophone from Belgium.
With me being on the sitar, we become a very interesting cluster if you group us racially — from black to white while I’m somewhere in the middle…” traces the voice of the artiste, who will be marking his debut as a vocalist through his album though he has collaborated with Shankar Mahadevan on a duet before. The other singers on board are equally exciting — Shaan, who comes from a purely Bollywood background and Kaushiki Chakrabarty, who is steeped in the Indian Classical tradition of singing, Chatterjee conveys.
By the time the sitar player dictates the names of the composers — him, Indraadip Dasgupta and Indrajit Dey, a question rests at the tip of our tongue: “Why not Bengali or any other Indian language for that matter?” “Hindi is our national language,” counters Chatterjee. He adds that thanks to Bollywood, Hindi words are sprinkled all over as when he travelled to Egypt, people could easily utter the language, though in a broken fashion.
“The idea to make an album such as this was my idea. We collaborate with artistes from across the world; Jazz is like this umbrella under which you can accommodate Jazz as well as Indian Classical music as both are improvisational in nature,” thinks Chatterjee on the genre selection. His endeavour to approach music in a contemporary fashion is redoubtable when one thinks of his Shastriya Syndicate, the first Indian Classical band with a contemporary touch.
Approaching the actual crux of the question, Chatterjee answers, “Mostly Indian music is very melodious but one’s ear is not attuned to recognising the harmonic elements that owe more to the Western musical tradition. In this album, harmonic patterns are a specialty which is unprecedented.”
He mentions Pinky Poonawala as the lyricist for the album who has worked on films such as Chronicles of Narnia. As the album has traversed great distances from Kolkata to Mumbai, Belgium and South Africa, he urges listeners to tune into Shaan’s Sun Zara and Kaisa Hai Jaadu Kiya sung by Chatterjee, himself.
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