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October 30, 2011

Jazz with Paul Beaudry

Paul Beaudry & Pathways is a jazz group based in New York. Yesterday they performed at the Good Shepherd Auditorium in Bangalore. This was their fourth and last concert in India, as part of their tour Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad, sponsored by the US Consulate General, Chennai. Before coming to India, they had performed in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh.

A representative of the US Consulate in Chennai welcomed the audience. She announced that the event also commemorated a journalist-cum-musician killed by terrrosits. The catch in her voice had me wondering whether she was overcome with emotion. When she announced, with a similar 'smothered sob' in her throat, that Baskin Robbins had chipped in to promote the concert, I knew that I was mistaken!

The quartet filled the auditorium with jazz mingled with the sounds and rhythms of Latin-American countries. We heard a piece by a Haitian composer, followed by a Brazilian number. The Argentinian piece throbbed with the unmistakable beat of the samba. A man in the audience actually stood up and swayed in the aisle!

The Group, who have toured South America, played a lively composition inspired by Beaudry's interaction with musicians in Surinam. Then we heard a composition on world harmony led by Bennett Paster on the keyboard. One heard the ripples that his fingers created harmonising with the deep bass as the sax tenor improvised, soaring and blending. The drums throbbed and pulsated. This piece had an unusual feel - a different kind of jazz!

It was announced that the next number was a new composition inspired by a well-known Indian raga. I could not identify the tune, but the Indian flavour was definitely present. The performance ended with a typical American number. Tony Jefferson left his drums to do the vocals and elicited enthusiastic audience participation.

For the encore, Beaudry offered his own composition, which he said was inspired by his moving to New York some years ago. Primarily a bassist, he performs with jazz groups and also teaches music in the US. Armacost's expertise and improvisations on the sax provided the high notes of the concert. Jefferson was energetic and inventive on the drums. His drumming salvos drew appreciative applause. The Pathways ensemble, rooted in the jazz and blues traditions gave Bangalore an engaging glimpse into the swinging rhythms of contemporary American jazz.

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