Judges at this year's premium jazz contest for youngsters were hard pressed to decide who was best
Dozens of spectators had come to appreciate the four groups shortlisted to compete for the outstanding jazz band of 2014. Each had to perform three songs in front of the international jury composed of Pity Cabrera, Tran Vaun Trat, Emmanuel Hailemariam and Johan Hansén Larson – all musicians of Jazzmandu 2014
Nikesh Shakya, who recently graduated from Berklee School of Music in Boston, was first up. The band covered Miles Davis’ Donna Lee in an original contemporary fusion adaptation. They continued with Autumn Leaves before ending with their own composition. For this last song, Nikesh Shakya offered a thrilling experience to the crowd by switching his guitar to a sarod.
The second band on stage was Doxy Ltd led by the pianist Suyog Sotang, who performed a fascinating set with two of their own compositions. Forgive is a ballad in which Suyog Sotang plays spacious piano parts with the other members playing well-coordinated segments. Suraj Pant’s guitar riff gave a dreamy atmosphere to Doxy Ltd’s next composition, Divide. But the band really captivated the audience with its audacious reggae version of Dave Brubeck’s Take 5, driven by an energetic Babin Wagle on bass. During this tight set, Doxy Ltd showed sensible musical exchanges among its members.
The ethereal mood of the competition was then altered by the rhythmic drive of Mr Green. This trio started with a cover of Pat Metheny on which the guitarist, Subash Siwa, showed his graceful talent. The peculiar sound of Mr Green was revealed by a jaunty composition with Birat Basnet playing jerky drum parts. The band finally ended its set with Sonny Rollin’s Oleo.
The musical experimentation continued with the duet GT, formed just three days before Jazzmandu for the Next Generation competition. Table player Ramesh Pache Magar accompanied the guitarist Sudip Naubag to unite the Nepali classical music to jazz. GT began with a pleasant East-West fusion revision of the traditional Nepali song, Mangal Dhun. The two musicians then surprised the audience with an entertaining version of the jazz classic, Blue Bossa with the tabla handling the rhythm duties.
After deliberation, the judges understandably chose Doxy Ltd as the outstanding band. Musicianship aside, Suyog and his fellow musicians complemented each other. Subash Siwa, received the outstanding musician award, a much-deserved accolade because Mr Green’s guitarist is the archetype of virtuosity.
Said Doxy Ltd pianist Suyog Sotang: “I felt we could win, but Mr Green was really good too and so I had my doubts.”
As the winners of Jazz for the Next Generation 2014, Doxy Ltd were invited to stage along with the international artists for the Jazz Bazaar at Gokarna Forest Resort on Saturday. The band was also rewarded a free session at the Jazz Mean Studio to record a single.
“We are working on more original compositions for ourselves,” said Sotang, “and we hope to produce 20 original songs.”
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