International Jazz Day: MR Jagadeesh of MoonArra on the new collaborative album, Manouche
If there is someone who embodies the free spirited nature of jazz, it is legendary gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. India’s most well-known jazz band, MoonArra World Fusion’s new album, Manouche, is inspired by him. “Django was from the Manouche tribe of Romani gypsies, and it means ‘human’. The name also means humanity in Sanskrit, so we decided to call the album Manouche,” composer, guitarist and founder of the band, Jagadeesh Ramanujam Mudambi says. We speak to him about the album that releases today to also mark International Jazz Day. Excerpts:
How was the concept of the album, Manouche, born?
In 2020, the International Jazz Day on-ground event was cancelled due to the pandemic. Our International festival and concert tour was also called off - MoonArra had been invited to perform at Pannonhalma Jazz Festival, a 1,000 year old Benedictine Monastery in Hungary, a UNESCO heritage site, and post that a concert tour of Austria and a workshop-performance in Germany.
We then decided to have a virtual performance with some of our collaborators of one of our songs called Trieste. The online video was very well received and this got us thinking that it would be great to have a collaborative album with a few more artistes. Our collaborators readily agreed.
Tell us about the songs.
The album has around 10-12 compositions from our collaborators. While there's no particular theme in Manouche, our aim was to showcase each artiste's culture through their composition and their take on jazz. The album also has a special collaboration with renowned Bengaluru-based visual artist Gurudas Shenoy whose painting titled Resurgence is being worked into the cover art of the album.
What was the recording process like?
We started recording the first track in November 2020, which was a cover of American singer Sara K's composition If I Could Sing Your Blues. Each artiste recorded in his or her home studio in their respective countries based on the arrangements sent to them and they have been sending them over to Austria based Peter Natterer who is also doing the mixing. The final mix is being done in a studio.
How was the experience of collaborating with these artistes?
The album has artistes all the way from Austria, Japan, Hungary, Sweden, Germany, Italy, USA and of course India. Ehru-player Haruyo Kimura, saxophonist Peter Natterer, bassist Hoppal Mihaly, cellist Anna Tadeo are just a few of the names on the bill.
Collaborations go a little deeper than a one off case and that's how it enriches our musical knowledge and the music. Jazz doesn't necessarily reside only in the geographical region but also in the cerebral and regions of the heart and soul.
Available on online streaming platforms