MIN RATNA BAJRACHARYA
The drums thread out an easy rhythm, occasionally accelerating into something else completely, while the bass holds it all together with a steady beat.
This is the Hyjazz Club, where the sounds of Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald mingle with the more extroverted rhythms of flamenco jazz in a cocoon of thick pile carpets, soft seating and restrained lighting. The Hyjazz has all the makings of a classy, upscale club where the drinks are great and the music better, but all at a price.
Tucked away from the city's prying eyes beneath the main lobby of the Hyatt Regency at Boudha, the club opened a month ago to a performance of Spanish maestro Jorge Pardo's Vientos flamencos. Open every Friday, the club now caters to just about everyone with a taste for smooth jazz.
"We wanted to set up a place where you can just relax and listen to some great music," says Satyajit Pradhan of the Hyatt Regency. "We chose jazz because there is no other music like it- it's classy and it's approachable."
Jazz maybe an acquired taste, but the club's management believes there are enough aficionados in Kathmandu to make it work. Annual festivals in the Kathmandu valley like Jazzmandu and the Nepal Jazz Jatra have been successful in introducing the public to international jazz while also providing support and publicity for local musicians.The clientele is small at the moment-usually just guests at the hotel-but the number is growing. Says Pradhan: "Our targets are weary entrepreneurs who want to relax and unwind after a long week at work."
Trouble Clef are the only regular performers at the moment, but Pradhan says the Hyatt is searching for other talented bands to provide an alternative to the raucous rock that reverberates out from Thamel's live music venues.
Abello, who is also director of the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory, leads Trouble Clef but often changes the lineup to bring in new musicians. His signature style of saxophone jazz has become symbolic of the Hyatt Regency, as Trouble Clef often perform at the hotel's events.
It's not just the music and the atmosphere at Hyjazz that offer a world of difference from Thamel. The range of drinks is excellent, with the rice wine Margarita highly recommended. And the nearby restaurant Rox will be providing a special menu of handmade pasta throughout July. This is a place that deserves to succeed.
Pranaya SJB Rana