Picture courtesy: Artist
The Latination is one of the rare, authentic Latin jazz bands in India. Sadly, they perform very less in Kolkata, the city they are based in, due to lack of venues. A rare show took place at Phoenix – The Thursday Jazz Encounter, on 3rd August, 2017, and it was one of a kind.
The band comprises of Emmanuel Simon on percussions (congas, bongos, guirro and assorted instruments), Premjit Dutta on timbales, Bijit Bhattacharya on bass and Pradyumna Singh Manot on keyboards. When they play, the first thing that hits one is the vivacity of the rhythm, and the wide percussive spectrum their music operates in. It is so groovy, energetic and compelling that one will want to dance (that is one purpose of Latin music) or just move and tap one’s feet!
That day, their sound tended more towards the jazz end of the spectrum. On one hand, the rhythms called out to the body, while on the other hand, the improvizational soloing and rich melodies fascinated the mind. They played a couple of originals (Oz and Moonstruck) and their own renditions of Latin standards, which included forms like cumbia, salsa, cha cha, rhumba etc. So, the crowd got a potpourri of different Latin musical sub genres.
Though most tracks were uptempo and juicy, the slower numbers brought out some couples to the dance floor to do some close dancing. Others did not feel left out because all were moving or swaying to the music anyway. At one point, everyone clapped to the percussive rhythm kept by the congas and timbales, while the bass played a melodic solo on the chords provided by the keyboard.
The best part, however, was when two salsa dancers decided to match their steps to the music. They moved, swayed and twirled to the rhythm and tapped their feet to the beats. The band kept a steady groove, while the rhythm changed colours according to their whims. The dancers and musicians invigorated each other to do better – the beats got faster and the rhythms got wilder in sync with the increased pace of the dancers’ movements!
One dancer was brave enough to try to tap his feet to the notes played on the keyboard. He did manage for a while, until Mad-fingers Manot went into jet-speed territory, a very normal thing for him. Both were left laughing, and the crowd was all smiles too, being witness to the beautiful music and the unexpected dancing.
“We are very happy to have performed at Phoenix, as there are very few venues in Kolkata which support original music. It has been redone beautifully and made more music friendly,” said Emmanuel Simon, “The crowd at Phoenix is a more jazz listening crowd, so we could play complex, sophisticated compositions, and less dance numbers.”
If the band was happy after playing the gig, imagine what the people in the crowd felt like. There was dancing, laughter, percussive participation and interaction, beyond the usual drinking and merriment that one finds in bar. To top it all, there was amazing music. In a nutshell, a very lively and enjoyable experience.
Picture courtesy : Nishit Arora