Nepali Times
Jazz evolution in Kathmandu


Jazz, more than any musical genre, defies definition. Most musicians define it is an improvisation of the idea that is formed in the head and later expressed through music.

Ozma, the French quintet jazz band define jazz simply as freedom.

"For us it is the artistic freedom to incorporate our personal influences which could be funk, rock or even hip-hop through the five different musical instruments we play to create our sound," says St?phane? Scharl? the drummer of the band. "Today's jazz doesn't sound like the jazz you'd hear 40 years back," says? sax player David Florsch, "it's constantly evolving and as a jazz band Ozma's goal is to create a fusion of the influences and improvise while having fun."

"Jazz has no boundaries and that's what makes it enjoyable," adds David.

Ozma is currently in Kathmandu as a part of the ongoing week-long Chevrolet Miles Music Festival which started on 21 March. Jointly organised by The Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory, Alliance Fran?aise in Kathmandu and Infinity International. The festival aims to provide a platform to exchange ideas and explore Nepali traditional music alongside Ozma's music.

The band was initially formed by three Strasbourg Conservatory students namely Adrien Dennefeld who plays the guitar, Edouard S?ro-Guillaume who plays the bass and St?phane in 2001. Guillaume Nuss, the trombone player and David joined them in their jam sessions a few times before they were invited to join the group in 2004. "We felt a little lonely," says St?phane jokingly but on a serious note adds, "We wanted to add a melodic dimension to our music.

When it was just the three of us, one took the lead and it was difficult for the other two to step away. With five , its easier." A year later they released their first album and in just two years were named the Best French Group at the National Jazz Competition.

They put their sync and strength down to their great friendship. "We've known each other for around nine years and this sort of friendship is very rare in jazz . Most musicians come together for a very brief period of time and then go their separate ways," explains St?phane who compares the band's friendship to that of rock bands . "It is this compatibility as friends that is reflected on stage," adds David.

Other than that their music is also characterised by the huge dose of humour that's incorporated into their sound. "We are happy guys," says St?phane, "who make dark music, as paradoxical as that might sound."

So what is Ozma's sound like? In their own words?it is 'jazz metric-rhythmic-swinging-warmly-festive-dynamic-rough-explosive-music." Or we could just say radical, at least for Nepal.

Often their soft, melodic and at times melancholic and incomprehensible tones each weave out fairytales, which start out with 'once upon a time' and end with 'happily ever after'. They have spent two years working on some of them. "During rehearsals we sit together and just start playing without talking to each other at all," reveals David. These rehearsals are recorded and replayed, then edited. Pieces are either added to existing ones or a new piece is created around it, like building a Lego house.

"Adrien is the composer.? We listen to his creations and give him our honest opinion?whether to scrap it or work more on it," informs David. "All the decisions are very democratic and involve a lot of brainstorming," adds St?phane.
In the course of the festival, Ozma has been practising with Nepali musicians such as flutist Rubin Shrestha, tabla player Nawaraj Gurung, sarod?? player Suresh Bajracharya and ishraj player Santosh Shrestha for a special repertoire concert on 28 March. "We have no idea what to expect but definitely know that we are going to create something new and special," says the drummer. To which David adds, "no matter what we create it will be music irrespective of genres. It will be a result of an evolution of thoughts and that's what jazz is, evolution."

Ozma Concert
27 March, 6PM
Army Auditorium- Shava Mandap
Rs 800 (1st Row), Rs 400 (others)
*Tickets available at Alliance Fran?aise in Kathmandu (AFK), Kathmandu
Jazz Conservatory (KJC), Siddhartha Art Gallery, The Bakery Caf?
Chez Caroline Restaurant, Sangeeta Thapa (9851030873), Pratima Pand? (9851022365) and the Army Club on the evening of the concert)

Ozma and Nepali musician
A unique shared-repertoire concert
28 March, 7PM
Dhokaima Cafe
*Contact AFK or KJC to book

Rock weds with tabla and sarangi

Many youngsters are getting hooked on knowing how jazz works and how much fun it can be


Last year, Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory (KJC) launched a new music festival, the Nepal Jazz Jatra, with the aim of providing a space for predominantly Nepali musicians to come together and fuse various forms of music and create a different sound. The festival was a success. This year KJC has changed the name of the festival to Miles Music Festival, dropping jazz from the title to encourage interaction between various genres of music. And why Miles? Because Miles Davis was an innovator and a pioneer of fusion.

Miles Music Festival (MMF) is about the human interplay between musicians. The idea is to have a Nepali rock group play with a tabla or sarangi player. The festival is about music in general rather than a certain genre. It should be? accessible to everyone?the festival will offer a bit of everything?performances, workshops, movies, lectures and concerts.

KJC? was launched in October 2007 to support music and give professional music education in Nepal.? It currently has more than 180 students learning instruments, music theory, ear training, ensembles, audio engineering, electronic music and video editing. Apart from teaching music, KJC also stages concerts in which many national and international artists such as trombonist Jeremy Borthwick, vocalist Sachal Vasandani and saxophonist Jorge Pardo have performed.

?Miles Music Festival brings together three events: Women in Concert, OZMA (collaborating with Alliance Fran?aise in Kathmandu) and Miles Festival itself.? It's not about being better than other festivals in Nepal, but about planting the seed of culture and uniting people with music.

In the past decade or so jazz music has put down a very strong and solid root in Nepal. Many youngsters are getting hooked on knowing how it works and how much fun it can really be. The other reason for jazz's popularity among the youth is the realization that it is flexible and easy to fuse with other genres.

KJC believes that Kathmandu can be the capital of the arts in South Asia and this requires a higher level of musicianship: to achieve that we must share our knowledge.

28 March- Chevrolet Concert at 1905 Restaurant
* KJC Combo
* Baja Gaja with international guests (Nepal and France)
* Astha Tamang Maskey Group (Nepal and Canada)
* Kathmandu Empress with Nick Jost on bass and Eric Slaughter on????? guitar (Nepal, Norway, Spain and US)
* Pousie and the Fags (Nepal and Netherlands)

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)