The jazz music scene in India isn’t as developed as it is in other parts of the world. But it’s certainly starting to gain ground with serval jazz festivals hitting the country and a number of trendy jazz bars opening in major cities. Here’s a list of talented musicians who are responsible for popularising this genre in India.
UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble
Bangalore-based UNK is one of the most well-known jazz bands in India led by seasoned musician, Radha Thomas. Trained in Indian classical music, Thomas began her career as a vocalist for a rock and roll band. During the seventies, she moved to New York where she even performed at the iconic Sweet Basil Jazz Club. After returning to India, Thomas started UNK and since then, has played in all major jazz festivals and venues in India.
Syncopation is a prolific jazz band that has played over 500 shows ever since they were launched in 2009. Their debut album, Tune In, was critically acclaimed and is still considered to be one of the best jazz albums in India. Syncopation usually blends contemporary jazz with elements of funk, swing and bebop, producing melodious tunes with just the right hint of energy.
Fubar Ghetto is an instrumental jazz band from Delhi. Formed in 2010, they’ve made quite a name for themselves in the industry with their distinctive brand of music mostly inspired by classic rock, jazz and blues. Their sounds are smooth and have a certain sensual quality that you never get tired of indulging in.
The trio of musicians who make up HFT have been playing together since 2004. They are a jazz fusion band drawing inspirations from every musical genre that you can think of including progressive rock, Western and Indian classical, folk and world music. Their experimental sounds always form an element of surprise and are highly refreshing.
The Jass B’stards
A band like no other, The Jass B’stards are unique, quirky, irreverent and most importantly, immensely talented. Every bit of the band members’ wry sense of humour seeps into their music, making their sounds thoroughly enjoyable. It’s hard to categorize their work but they’ve often been referred to as a ‘dance oriented psychedelic jazz-punk groove band with a Latin twist’.
REFUGE is a jazz quartet who plays a style of music described as world jazz. Their creativity is fuelled by a variety of music genres but folk and classical sounds have had the most dominant effect on them. They define their practice as ‘equal parts structured and improvised’. The jazz quartet also regularly collaborates with other musicians for their gigs.
Rajeev Raja Combine
Rajeev Raja Combine is an Indo jazz fusion band comprising of an eclectic bunch of musicians that include a jazz pianist, a tabla player, a saxophonist and a Carnatic music vocalist. The band is led by Rajeev Raja, a former advertising executive and a brilliant flautist. Their debut album, Cosmic Chant, topped the iTunes jazz charts in India for weeks.
The Latination is one of the very few Latin jazz bands in India and certainly the most renowned in the category. With a talented mix of French and Indian musicians, the Latination was formed in 2014 in Kolkata and since then, has played a pivotal part in introducing this format of jazz to the Indian audience.