Before, going into anything else, it is my duty to let you know that there is something great happening in Kolkata, this Sunday, April 2nd, 2017. Psylent Productions and Beatzz in association with T2 presents “Twin Cities Festival” on 2nd April 2017, featuring the greatly acclaimed foreign Jazz band from New York City, The Rotem Sivan Trio. The event will also feature popular Indian experimental projects such as Amyt Datta Quartet, The Bodhisattwa Trio, Unity Village and Rivu.
To get to the backstory behind the article, as I was returning to Calcutta, from Delhi, I get a call from a fellow musician from the city, informing me about a concert that they have organised. The broken telephonic conversation left certain key phrases in my head like ‘Rotem Sivan Trio’ and ‘artist collaboration’ and ‘everyone helping out’. For the rest of the journey, I tried to research on the name that I got from that exchange and I figured that the jazz trio from New York was making quite a mark in the international music scene, though it has a long way to go. And that they have been touring India, starting with B-Flat, Bengaluru, which would go on till their Hyderabad workshop and live show at the Hyderabad Jazz Club, hitting Delhi and Calcutta, in between.
We Calcuttans, have a rich history in hosting some of the finest jazz musicians from the world outside as well as nurturing some of the home-grown jazz performers. But at the same time, it is also the city where a unique jazz guitar player like Carlton Kitto faded away silently, unrecognised, uncelebrated and unattended. I tried to figure out the enthusiasm, of the Kolkata based musicians, behind the ‘Twin Cities Festival’ featuring New York based ‘Rotem Sivan Trio’ along with four other jazz and experimental outfits from the city – Amyt Datta Quartet, The Bodhisattwa Trio, Unity Village and Rivu; and I got to the conclusion that the main reason behind this excitement is not really Rotem Sivan, who is undoubtedly a fantastic musician but who is also largely unheard and unrecognised in the Kolkata music circuit.
Till even a few years back, Calcutta was a haven for contemporary music. There would be quality live gigs and music concerts to attend every week and local outfits were making a mark nationwide and some even in the international circuit. The rest of the country would talk about our music scene. However, recently, this seems to have fallen apart. The weekly Friday mini-concerts at Jamsteady, at the Princeton Club, pulled down its shutters to independent music, in November last year, after shifting through a couple of venues; the Kolkata Jazz Music Festival was almost about to be called off, due to lack of funds; several smaller venues that hosted smaller gigs, backed out from the music business; Someplace Else at The Park Hotel, the only regular venue on the other hand is over-booked with on-contract bands. In a music scene, such as this, with such a void for regular venues, where would the musicians go? Rotem Sivan is not such a big name for such an enthusiasm, but it surely is a name big enough to start the live music movement in Calcutta; it surely is a reason big enough to start filling up the void that is created in the Kolkata independent music circuit.
Koustav Dey, one of the organisers, when asked about the ‘Twin Cities Festival’ replied, “We are doing this because of our love for good music. As musicians and music lovers we feel like we are missing out on so much and hence falling behind. So we got together with an idea to revive the booming music scene in Calcutta. The plan is to create a property that hosts recurring events to cater to the needs and wants of music lovers citywide and over time grow our local talents.”
Efforts from different start-ups and collaborations, along with musicians, are emerging throughout the city, to save its rich independent music culture. The Accidental Note is trying to build a monthly live property called “The Jam”; Jamsteady is trying to revive its independent scene; and finally Friday Night Originals, the YouTube based Original and Independent production start-up trying in its own way to revive Original and Independent music through episodes and live gigs. Now it is solely on the live music audience base of the city, to accept or to reject the efforts of these musicians, collaborations and start-ups, by physically turning up for these shows and gigs.
Artist Profiles for Twin Cities Festival
Rotem Sivan an Israeli Jazz Musician who is taking the NYC jazz scene by storm. New York Times has reviewed him as a gifted guitarist with remarkable talent.
Amyt Datta is India’s preeminent guitar explorer. Rolling Stone Magazine calls him the country’s “true live guitar god”.
The Bodhisattwa Trio is an experimental instrumental jazz rock outfit which believes in spontaneity, improvisation and the raw expression of unadulterated human feelings.
Unity Village is a collaborative platform exploring the roots of rhythm. The circle involves Ritoban Das, Sourav Chatterjee, Dwaipayan Saha and Arka Das
Rivu is a music composer, producer, arranger, guitarist, keyboardist, educator, and choir conductor from Kolkata India.