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Music for every emotion Music for every emotion
by Dr Elsa Lycias Joel
2022-05-01 06:06:52
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els0001_400Bay 146 was filled with excitement even before the 3 musicians took the stage. Food and drinks overflowed in all tables as much as handshakes, smiles, kind words of introductions and hugs. The curiosity of what lay ahead made a few discuss the reasons behind a strong fusion between Indian and Jazz music. Reaching there much ahead of time, I had enough time to catch up with my dear friend Bruno Plasse, the cordial host of the musical evening and also the executive director of Alliance Francaise. He gracefully took it on him to introduce me to his other friends, most of them elegantly dressed, poised and composed women to make sure I had good company until my friend Myonghee Choi arrived. Dandy gentlemen and cool teens spiced up Bay 146.

After I grew tired of people watching and arguing with Bruno that not knowing acrobatic rock’n’roll doesn’t make me a bad dancer I decided to order some food. Just then Choi arrived like a breath of fresh air. She couldn’t wait to engage in the culinary advantage. When I ordered plain water and a plate of prawn popcorn she stopped discussing food with me and instead chose a friendly waiter. A well-travelled trekker, she always paired food with the right kind of spirits and drinks and I knew it ever since our last travel together. Being the only Korean in Bay 146, in no time Choi became a sought after connoisseur of Korean food and she happily suggested a few good restaurants to people who wished to taste authentic Korean recipes.

At some point I wondered if the crowd really came in to listen to music or talk their heads off. Such was the noise of chitter-chatter. Being a music lover did not qualify me enough to debate on whether Louis Armstrong was a legend at scat singing or trumpet playing. So, I stuck to talking about New Orleans, if the clarinet sounded like a rooster; a cornet which looks like a trumpet’s cousin, a whining horse; and a trombone, a cow. Bruno, as always made sure to back me up. Much to my relief, the musicians took over the night. Goodness gracious! I could’ve heard a pin drop. Even the clinking of forks and spoons disappeared abruptly.

Arfaaz, on the drums, Martin with his dynamic instrument, the trumpet and Florent on the keys conveyed many emotions and styles with ease. Their sheer energy invited thunderous applause and bravi. The story of Electrik Po, the Indi-French band began with Florent Silve, a multi-instrumentalist meeting Arfaaz kagalwala during their creative residency program in Marseille, France in 2018. Florent was making music for 3 decades or so and was keen on a project that fused Jazz, world music with electronic music. Appreciation for one another was instant and thus the collaboration kicked off. Martin Saccardy, the trumpeter came into the scene as Florent’s long time buddy and music partner. Since music has no language the trio hit it off easily. Respect for one another was what inspired a dream and their friendship was the start of something great to come – spreading music in every corner of the world. Today, the three have become a unit-trinity of three talents. Elektric Po stands testimony to the fact that similar passion can create a sense of compatibility in music.

For more than an hour, Bay 146 and all in it soaked in their new sound of jazz, electro, ethnic, a bit of rock and trip hop. Musical camaraderie between the three was at its best. Many a time, it was a combo of urban contemporary jazz, Balkan folk and Romani music. Dancers bounced on the dance floor and the next minute they grooved slowly. The way their bodies interpreted the beats was amazing. Nobody wanted the music to stop. Slow or smooth, jerky or bouncy, the dance floor was on fire with Bruno Plasse taking the lead with no inhibitions. It was indeed a sight to behold.

Original compositions created over the last 4 years were presented in style. A melodic start to the evening came as a surprise. ‘Animals’ is to my mind their strongest with a thick texture and fast-tempo. ‘Tadaamyaham Sketch’ got everyone to strut their funky stuff on the dance floor. ‘Redemption Road’ and ‘Varanasi’ were meant to soothe souls. Yes, the compositions evoked mixed emotions.

Everything is funky about Electrik Po, from the band’s name to the way they influence the crowd, young and old. Half way through the show, we knew one another by their names. Little wonder, music connects. Featured in all the leading dailies of many countries, Electrik Po is already on a roll giving the best music and receiving tremendous love in return.

elsa0002_400Birth of the band happened by chance just the way Po, the panda in Kung Fu Panda became a kung fu master without any plans to become one. Above all, it gave each one of them an opportunity to explore world music and sounds that are still rooted in their respective tradition.

BONJOUR INDIA in association with French Council, French Alliance, Bay146, and EXODUS did enthral too many minds, bodies and souls by bringing 3 superstars into our midst. Drummer, singer and producer of electronic music Arfaaz Kagalwala who composes music for television commercials, web series and feature films was at his best with explosive energy in his own distinguishable style. Florent, the president of Free Monkey Record label who assists artistes with directing and producing music remained a showman through and through. Martin, the trumpeter, also a musician on ‘Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme’, a 400-year-old satirical drama written by Molière with musical and dance interludes exuded joie de vivre. For Martin, improvisations and his brilliant command over his instrument seemed as natural as breathing.

Bruno Plasse’s knack of maintaining the energy of the house, and weaving the thread that linked the musicians, sponsors and audience together was commendable. Throughout the show we clapped thunderously, cheered loudly, danced like nobody was watching, laughed heartily and everything remained upbeat. Not to disappoint many who didn’t want the night to end, Electrik Po played ‘Animal’ and ‘‘Tadaamyaham Sketch’.

The happy man of the moment in the Chennai music scenario is none other than Eddie Prithivraj who bends over backwards to be the platform that helps bands showcase their talent. At Bay 146, he looked like a Diskid who just woke up in Walt Disney World. The gusto with which he showcases the talent of musicians across the world and in India is noteworthy. Eddie’s Exodus will never end because the music plays on.


All photos by Dr Elsa Lycias Joel

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