Nepali Times
Jazzy 10th birthday


Marlow Rosado

Tito Puente Jr


Cadenza Collective

A week off during Dasain is barely enough and Tihar seems ages away. But fret not. Surya Nepal Jazzmandu this year, like the past ten editions, promises you a smooth transition from one festivity to the other.

After playing at the Palmer Street Festival in Sydney in 2000, Navin Chhetri, drummer and vocalist of Cadenza hatched an audacious plan with some friends to introduce Kathmandu and the international jazz circuit to each other. Two years later Jazzmandu was born and now has a guest list that boasts the likes of Trilok Gurtu, Ari Hoenig, and Louis Banks, and artists from opposite corners of the world from Honduras to Australia and Norway to Thailand.

Besides giving us another reason to party, Jazzmandu is encouraging youngsters to pick up an instrument. This year will see the return of Jazz for the Next Generation Music Competition which gave rise to young talents like Abhisek Bhadra (see box). Jazzmandu also organised two workshops in October in partnership with the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory to introduce jazz to young audiences. "Not having to explain what jazz is anymore has been nice," says Chhetri.

And on its 10th birthday, Jazzmandu has a tasty treat lined up for Kathmandu's crawlers. Headlining this year's festival will be Tito Puente Jr from the US, who has been carrying his legendary father's repertoire and passion to audiences around the world.

Beat Kaestli and Ben Stivers (Switzerland), Marlow Rosado (USA), Rootman (Thailand), Suzy&2 (Norway), Adil and Vasundhara (India), and Nojazz (France) will perform with their respective ensembles and with each other across the Valley, while Cadenza, Kutumba, and Urjazz will be the flag bearers for Nepal.

The Jazzmandu calendar

Jazz for the next generation,
1 November, 2.30 to 4.30 pm, KJC, free entry
Performance by local musicians out of whom three finalists will be picked to perform at Jazz Bazaar alongside top Jazz artists from around the world. The finalists will also get to interact and engage in a private workshop with Jazzmandu musicians. Limited seats available.

Valley jams,
2 November, 7.30 to 9.30 pm, Rs 400
Different venues in Kathmandu will feature performances by various Jazzmandu artists.

Jazz bazaar,
3 November, 2.30 to 10 pm, Gokarna Forest Resort, Rs 899
Far from the cacophony of Kathmandu, in the lush green forests of Gokarna, a marathon of jazz and traditional Nepali folk and classical music awaits you. Bus available from Hyatt Regency, Boudha from 1 to 4 pm and to Lazimpat at 10 pm, seats not guaranteed.

Afro-Latin jazz,
4 November, 7.30 to 9.30 pm, Hotel Shangri-La, Rs 899
A night of Afro-Cuban sounds of the Caribbean with Tito Puente Jr and Marlow Rosado, accompanied by the Jazzmandu all-star band which will be followed by a jam with Jazzmandu musicians.



Adil and Vasundhara


Jazzmandu master class,
6 November, 3.30 to 4.30 pm, KJC, free entry
An opportunity for music students and jazz enthusiasts to interact with visiting musicians, share experiences, and get tips on techniques and instruments.

Jazz at Patan,
6 November, 6 to 8.30 pm, Patan Museum, Rs 1,299
An evening of Nepali classical music fused with Jazz, played in the historic courtyard.

Jazzmandu finale,
7 October, 5.30 to 10 pm, Hotel Shangri-La, Rs 999
Bands will play their sets and later jam together, culminating in a high-energy, improvised treat to bid adieu to this year's musical festivities.

Watch videos from Jazzmandu festival of years past:
Jazzmandu 2011
Jazzmandu 2010
Jazzmandu 2009
Jazzmandu 2008

See also:
Once upon a time in Jazzmandu
Mark your calendars for next week, it's time for some jazz!

On the eighth note, PAAVAN MATHEMA
Jazzmandu will be a riot between the festivities

Let them hear jazz
Eclectic, energetic, and exclusive, Jazzmandu bridged the holiday season in high style?

Generation Jazz

The story of Abhisek Bhadra, a young and tremendously talented pianist, goes to show just how far jazz has come in its decade in Nepal and just how important the influence of Jazzmandu and Kathmandu's early jazz musicians has been. Bhadra impressed many international musicians at Jazzmandu 2011, where he was chosen as the best young musician at the Jazz for the Next Generation competition.

Asked how he started playing jazz, Bhadra points to a night many years ago when he heard Cadenza Nepal's first jazz band playing fusion music at a Jazzmandu event. "I did not get the music at the time, but I was hooked," recalls Bhadra, "and I soon began my own exploration into jazz." Bhadra is now pursuing his musical education in Europe on a scholarship.

Kathmandu's music scene has come a full circle as a new crop of musicians learn and build upon the efforts of those who came before them.

Roman Gautam

Watch Abhisek Bhadra live in action

Jazzing up Kathmandu

Nepali Times caught up with artists playing at Jazzmandu 2012 via email just as they were packing their instruments and getting ready to board their flights to Kathmandu. Learn about their experiences, expectations, and pre-tour jitters.

Nepali Times: How popular is jazz in your country?
Adil and Vasundhara:
There are just a handful of jazz bands in India. However, the music scene as a whole is evolving and on the rise in Delhi. The city has become a hotspot for indie musicians and we are very fortunate to be living in a place where we can sustain ourselves by making music we love. Also it's wonderful to see more and more young people taking an interest in the genre. They are flocking to concerts, searching for tunes on the internet, forming bands, and even blogging.

Rootman: The jazz scene in Thailand is quite good. For the past 15 years universities and colleges have been including jazz courses in their music program and there is a new generation which has grown up listening to and wanting to play jazz. We also have popular festivals like Thailand International Jazz Conference, Bangkok Jazz Festival, and Hua Hin Jazz Festival which are helping promote and encourage young artists.

What are your expectations from your gig in Nepal?
Adil and Vasundhara:
This is our first visit to Nepal, but we've heard a lot about the music scene in the country. Some of our friends who visited the conservatory had great things to say. We are very excited to meet, interact, and jam with musicians in Nepal. Every time we travel, we are inspired by the visuals and our interactions and collaboration with local talents. We hope our Nepal experience will be equally enriching.

Rootman: We've never been to Nepal either and are very excited to perform here. I've heard some Nepal traditional music on YouTube and found they are similar to traditional Thai music.

Nojazz: We were in Nepal last June for a concert, but didn't have an opportunity to listen to any Nepali music. This time we definitely want to collaborate with Nepali musicians.

Nojazz has been around for a long time. How has the experience been?
With 11 years of experience, we can now react to any situation on stage. But we don't want to play the same way forever that would be a trap. We want our listeners to have fun and that's what we plan to do in Kathmandu too.

How would you describe your sound?

Rootman: Our sound is a mix between groove, R&B, funk, jazz, and electronic. Some members are students at the Mahidol University, some are fulltime musicians in Bangkok. And when we come together, we happen to sound like something between jazz and grooves.

Nojazz: It's a bit of jazz, a bit of not-jazz, more like a gentle provocation because we don't want to sound too mainstream.

What do you have lined up for your fans in the next 12 months?
We just finished recording our album and are waiting for it to be mixed. Hopefully, we'll bring it to Jazzmandu We will be organising a concert and also recording live somewhere in Bangkok and invite guests like MC Shimori and turntables teams.

Adil and Vasundhara: We hope to have mastered our songs by the time we return to Delhi so we will just have to add the final touches on our next EP, Ampersand. Besides the core quartet, the album will feature many leading musicians from India like Louis Banks, Ranjit Barot, Loy Mendonsa, Sanjay Divecha, Sankarshan Kini, and Zubin Balaporia. Our band members Saurabh Suman (bass) and Pranoy Praveen (drums) have also started writing new material so that should keep us busy.

Nojazz: In early 2013 we plan to go to Japan and then we have concerts lined up in Paris and other locations in Europe in the latter half of 2013. So the fans can look forward to our new tunes.

Listen to Adil and Vasundhara
Listen to Rootman
Listen to Nojazz

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)