Indian music inspires top European jazz artist

New Delhi, March 10 (Calcutta Tube) Enrico Rava, one of the most sought after jazz musicians in Europe, is inspired by Indian music that ‘creeps’ sub-consciously into his compositions.

‘I like Parveen Sultana and Bismillah Khan. When I played in India at the Yatra jazz festival in Mumbai 25 years ago, I attended shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan’s birthday concerts. It was unforgettable. I also like the Dagar brothers and Ravi Shankar. Indian music may not influence me directly, but it creeps in at a subconscious level,’ Rava, who is touring India with the Enrico Rava New Quintet after 25 years, told IANS here.

The Italian trumpet player, 70, performed at the Teen Murti Auditorium in the capital Tuesday.

The quintet was presented by the Italian Cultural Institute.

‘My Indian influence is a bit like Proust – the philosopher I admire. I often read his books and then six months later, I see something coming out from him into my music. It makes me happy,’ Rava said.

The septuagenarian plays original jazz compositions on the trumpet, accompanied by a cellist, a pianist, a drummer and one of the world’s finest trombonist, Gianluca Petrella- whom Rava bills as the ‘star of his quintet’.

The Turin-born trumpet soloist, who shot to fame in Europe during the 1960s with his original projects, is working on three simultaneous new albums. ‘I expect to cut a record by the year end,’ Rava said.

Rava known for his signature album, ‘New York Days’ for which he was honoured with the Bobby Jasper prize, named after a legendary Belgian jazz tenor player.

Some of Rava’s famous compositions include ‘Rava l’ Opera Va’, ‘Easy Living’, ‘Tati’ and ‘The Words And The Days’. He has worked with several American and European jazz veterans.

On Tuesday, he opened his concert with ‘Interiors’ from ‘New York Days’.

‘I was inspired by the dark side of Woody Allen’s works – which probes the seamy side of life – into composing ‘Interiors’,’ Rava said.

A little later, he had the audience singing with him as he played ‘Poinciana’- a popular jazz tune by Islamic-American jazz composer Ahmad Jamal.

‘I grew up with American and European jazz. My favourites are trumpet player Chet Baker (senior) and a Brazilian musician and guitarist Joao Gilberto. But I love Miles Davis, pianist Thelonious Monk and Louis Armstrong. While Miles was a personal friend, I think Louis Armstrong was the biggest thing to have happened to jazz music. I have also watched Thelonious Monk and Billie Holiday perform live several times,’ Rava said.

The self-taught musician is the son of a classical pianist.

‘At 18, I picked up the trumpet and learnt to play it after watching Chet Baker for a year in my hometown Turin, where he was staying briefly. At 20, I moved out of Turin to the Italian west coast,’ he said.

Rava has composed more than 200 original jazz melodies.

‘Age is telling on me. I hate to travel, but on an average I play solo in 100 concerts every year.’

Rava, who has recently returned from a Asia tour, said: ‘Jazz is hugely popular in Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan like in India. All my concerts were sold out.’

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