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Auckland musicians to improvise with prominent Indian classical artists

Updated: May 14, 2018

Indian classical musician Purbayan Chatterjee has come from Mumbai for the performance.

A group of Auckland musicians are set to blend genres on stage with two illustrious Indian artists. 

Mumbai Unplugged will see "tradition meet innovation" in a performance featuring Mumbai-based musicians Taufiq Qureshi and Purbayan Chatterjee.

Aucklanders Ben Fernandez, Jo Shum and Manjit Singh are set to jam alongside the pair while playing a brand of 'world music'. This will involve fusing a range of styles including jazz, blues and Indian classical music. 

Fernandez, a pianist, has just finished a masters in jazz with a focus on Indian techniques and methods in jazz improvisation.

"It's a kind of confluence of cultures and confluence of styles," he says. 

Jazz at roughly 100-years-old can learn a lot from Indian music, a 2000 year tradition, Fernandez says. 

"Indian music and jazz share a common aspect of improvisation. And I try and use ideas based on these scales, ragas and rhythms in my playing."

Indian classical artists look at melodies and rhythms in a distinctive way that gives jazz musicians a new "dimension" to work with, he says.  

"It's something that musicians now from the west are beginning to learn."

"It's wonderful to see students keen to learn the nuances of Indian music because this is something we can learn in music...I believe music is a universal language and that's the way we communicate."

Mumbai Unplugged is set to be a largely improvised performance with Fernandez saying the two guests are outstanding at what they do.

Percussionist Qureshi plays a western drum kit with the rhythms and feel of a traditional Indian tabla drum, Fernandez says. 

"Taufiq is a master of using the human voice as a percussion instrument." 

"Western audiences can relate to that because they're used to the sound of the drum kit, and they're used to the sound of percussion. But hearing all these new rhythms and new ways of integrating music is totally different and unique."

Sitar player Purbayan Chatterjee employs a western feel to make his sitar sound like a guitar, the Browns Bay resident says. 

Qureshi and Chatterjee have spent the last three weeks teaching their style and techniques to musical students at the University of Auckland. 

Saturday's performance is set to feature material from the 1968 fusion album Raga Jazz Style which saw Bollywood music directors collaborate with jazz artists.  

It contained 11 tracks of Indian classical music played with non-Indian instruments such as saxophones and trumpets.

Mumbai Unplugged performs this Saturday, August 20 in the Dorothy Winstone Centre, 16 Howe Street, Freemans Bay.

Music gets under way at 6pm.

Tickets available from

 - Stuff

Originally posted on Stuff

Watch The Mumbai Unplugged Workshop:


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