Jazz still has a scope to grow in the country despite the presence of mainstream music, says Grammy nominated artiste Louiz Banks, who has spearheaded the jazz movement in India for over three decades, played in an array of bands and composed jingles and soundtracks for theatre, stage and feature films.
Banks, who recently created the signature tune for “Paani ka Teeka”, a national campaign to counter the water crisis launched by IdeaHive Media Pvt Ltd, said due to its inherent characteristic leaning more towards improvisation, jazz will “always cater to a niche audience”.
“Jazz demands equal involvement on the part of audience and performer. I believe musical education is the key… Understanding the art form and its subtle nuances is vital,” Banks said.
“With more jazz being played right through the year at various outlets and venues (not only yearly festivals), it can grow, and I can see that happening today,” added the 75-year-old.
He highlighted the need to have more airplay for jazz on TV and radio to spread awareness about the genre in the country.
“I wish jazz had more airplay through the medium of TV and radio, but I am optimistic that the next generation is slowly but surely gravitating towards jazz appreciation,” Banks said.
Since time immemorial, music, or any form of art, has helped creative individuals to express their beliefs and innate feelings — ideas that they feel can connect with the audience. Banks believes that “a piece of music is equal to a thousand words”.
“People connect with music more naturally which makes it a strong medium to reflect all kinds of problems that arise in society… Yes, music at the outset is a form of entertainment but it can also be a very strong voice to enlighten people about deeper subjects,” he said.
According to Banks, entertainment and enriching content can co-exist, but that depends solely on the artiste.
“I believe a music performance is a very personal statement by a musician. The virtuosity and technical mastery of the artiste can take the listener to all kinds of varied emotions that can be very soul satisfying to both the artiste and the listener.
“Depending on the focus of the artiste, the music he produces can be a great source of inspiration as well as entertainment at all levels,” he said.
In today’s times, aficionados of jazz are gravitating more towards experimentation, he noted.
“Times are changing and listeners are looking for new jazz which they can relate to, and I can see it happening. Jazz being the most adaptable music there is on planet earth, musicians are experimenting with different combinations with music of different cultures and genres and producing very viable content with jazz at its core,” Banks said.
However, he said that “there will always be musicians who will play traditional jazz and there will always be listeners who enjoy traditional jazz”.
“What’s amazing is that jazz can go anywhere!”
The veteran musician informed that he has a busy year ahead in terms of his musical projects, including live performances.
“(I have) the usual commercial assignments, but more importantly a series of over ten albums of varied music from hardcore jazz, romantic music, epic songs, dance related productions, solo projects, guitar synergy concerts, stage musicals… All my original music, which will be my legacy to the next generation,” he said.
His hands are full with a piano trio concert paying tribute to great jazz pianists, a diva concert featuring the best singers from India and a keyboard festival featuring the best keyboardists of the country.