The HCL Concert recently presented Samarpan, a classical Jazz band at the Stein auditorium. Packed to capacity, despite being a ticketed show, the secret was the ‘Samarpan’ or surrender to the ethos of music, by the six young artistes of extraordinary talent and calibre who comprised this band. Almost all of them are A grade artists of the All India Radio. Ninad Mulaokar on flute, Manas Kumar on violin, Ojas Adhiya on tabla, Gautam Sharma on percussions, Vishal Dhumal on keyboards and I.D. Rao on saxophone expertly wove a multi-hued tapestry of Indo-Western tunes.
A bewitching confluence of classical Indian ragas and the Western Jazz, the band opened with an alaap like movement on violin by Manas. Taken forward by the evocative flute of Ninad to an overture of Jazz improvisations on saxophone by Rao before Ojas Adhiya on tabla established the rhythm of a five beat time cycle that ran into the double measure of Keherwa to complete the phrase of his self-composed tala, with the clarity of the tiniest fraction.
The flute picked up from where the saxophone had left, roaming about and beyond the territory of a particular raga. Although it sounded like raga Saraswati, but there were also folk flavours in between when Vishal entered on keyboards. Gautam on percussions took turn during the carefully designed sequences, meticulous in detail and sweep, setting off contrasting figure through a growling bass of the saxophone to the taar pancham treble of flute. The music was also interspersed with padhant, the reciting of tabla and percussions mnemonics by Ojas and Gautam. “This was the very first composition we played together before even forming the band,” they informed.
There was sumptuous variety in their rich repertoire that comprised flavours of Indian ragas and forms like Thumri and Rasiya to Jazz-oriented compositions such as “An Elephant Ride” and “Sands of Gold” to “Dance in the Rain” which sounded as if based on raga Megh There were also rhythmic intricacies like Gopuchh Tihai which gradually gets shorter in shape like the cow’s tail The stereophonic sound and the rich texture of score produced an enthralling effect that lingered long after the dimming of lights swallowed the rounds of applause. It was a melodic performance of mutual understanding, intelligence and control.