Contemporary jazz performer Bianca Gismonti talks about everything from Brazilian jazz to Chaurasia
Brazilian jazz artiste Bianca Gismonti has an undeniable connection with Indian musical heritage; her father, the pioneering Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti has performed with the legendary Hari Prasad Chaurasia. She herself is an avid fan of Ustad Rashid Khan. On her first visit to India, Bianca performed at the Jaipur Jazz and Blues festival and made her way to Kolkata to perform at ICCR along with her band members, drummer Julio Falavigna and bass player Antonio Porto.
“We are playing some original compositions, some of my father’s works, some Tom Jobim with lyrics,” Bianca tells us a few minutes before her set. In a free-wheeling chat, the jazz pianist opens up about her trajectory, her soundscape and her undeniable desi connect.
How do you feel about the Indian listeners?
It’s been so beautiful meeting them; I personally feel Indian people are like Brazilian people, they are so warm and happy and it makes you feel at home.
Contemporary jazz is really big here right now. Is that why you decided to come here?
Not exactly, I’ve always loved India, so music was a great excuse really (laughs). And many people were not aware about Brazilian music and our jazz so it’s been great bringing it here
A lot depends on mixing it especially, because my family is from Lebanon, Italy and Brazil, so it’s a mix of influences which have come naturally to me.
Are you familiar with Indian music?
Yes! So Julio Falavigna, our drummer, who’s also my husband has two Indian gurus, and I love listening to Hindustani music. My father used to play with Hariprasad Chaurasia, they have performed here as well. Also Rashid Khan, he’s my favourite!
Did you plan to do something in the city? Maybe sample some food?
I’m a vegan so I had actually planned to see and eat whatever I can! Today, we went to the Yogananda Ashram and the Ramakrishna Ashram as well.
How would you define your trio’s sound?
It’s Brazilian jazz with many, many influences, from African music, folk beats, European music, it’s about the right mix.
How did the trio come together?
I started playing with Julio in 2011 we were a duo back then, then we started playing with Paolo, he’s our Italian bass player. He has been Brazilian music for many, many years he’s very used to the genre.
What are you planning next?
We are touring to Europe next, in Germany, Italy, Hungary, Portugal. After April I’ll be back in Brazil, where we will finish up our new album and mix it in Hungary, at our label there. The album is called Gismonti VII, it’s my last name and it is an homage to my father. I also have a piano duo with whom I’ll be recording a new album.
What does your playlist sound like...
I love my father’s music, then there’s Tom Jobim, Milton Nascimento. I also really like Keith Jarrett he plays really touching music, and I love Herbie Hancock. In Japan, I love this jazz composer called Hiromi.