US band finds jazz similar to Indian music

"Jazz has much in common with Indian music especially in the hands of John Coltrane or Miles Davis. Indian music is influential is many aspects of modern jazz," Brian Melvin, drummer-percussionist of US group 'BeetleJazz' said.

The 31st edition of Jazz Utsav sponsored by Seagram's 100 Pipers held across Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai are featuring bands from Belgium, Britain, Canada, Germany, Norway and Poland, as well as from India.

The brainchild of Melvin and pianist David Kikoski, US group 'Beatlejazz' as the name suggests has reprised songs by the Beatles adapting them to suit the jazz genre.

"I've been playing the drums now for 46 years - and I love the art form more than ever. I was very fortunate to have been blessed by Elvin Jones when I was eighteen years old. He has always been a guru figure on the drum set.

"As far as the Beatles go- they are my gurus as well. They have always been a huge part of my life in so many ways. I am so grateful to them for there love and spirit," says Melvin.

The percussionist says he learnt to play the tabla from legendary maestros Ustad Alla Rakha Khan and his son Zakir Hussain.

The group whose all four albums have been on top 10 of US radio charts are also huge fans of Grammy winning sitarist Pandit Ravi Shankar.

"I had the honour of having my first tabla lessons with Ustad Alla Rhaka and his son Zakir. I am a student and huge fan of Indian percussion. It keeps me very humble to say the least," says Melvin.

"I first stated hearing Indian music, the sitar and the tablas in the Beatles starring film Help. I think the sitar is a magical instrument. Ravi Shankar has done so much for world music. What he and George Harrison did as musicians and friends is a huge spiritual force," he adds.

The group since its formation in 1999 has now included bassist Peter Barshay and collectively feels that jazz is no more just concentrated in the West.

"Since the Internet has been around, musicians and new students have more on their fingertips than ever. Music is food for the soul and musicians have always used music from different parts of the world for keeping the music moving forward. Its no different thanks how there people with so many different blood lines," says pianist David Kikoski.

The group hopes of visiting the country again to jazz up music lovers.

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