"I can see more and more young musicians interested by the Jazz" - Mishko M'Ba


Recently, Mishko M'Ba & the Jaco Pastorius Tribute Band performed at the Congo square jazz fest 2014. Abhijit Ganguly spoke to Mishko M'Ba at the sidelines of the event. Born in 1962 in France, Mishko M'Ba is a composer, arranger, producer, bass guitarist and pianist. He performed on numerous French and international scenes from the 80's.
                                                                         
How did your tryst with music happen?

I have started the Music school when I was five or six year old having an elder sister learning piano and a elder brother the violin (my brother, Jam’Ba is now an excellent guitar player and producer in France). The clarinet was my first instrument in Western classical. I wanted to join the school earlier but reading was mandatory.

Jazz is a type of music that is perennially said to be suffering, or said to be dying. Do you see jazz suffering, financially, or creatively?

I think that a type of Music dies as a language when nobody plays it anymore.
To speak about India,  I can see more and more young musicians interested by the Jazz, mainly the harmony side, what I think is a main Jazz contribution to the Music along with the sense of Freedom (the Jazz was born in USA during the slavery (Blues) and segregation time).
Regarding the creativity, one can see new emerging Jazz Musicians all around the world : Tigran Amasyan, pianist from Armenia, Dhafer Youssef, singer and oud player from Tunisia or Hiromii Uehara, pianist from Japan and the “old” ones like Herbie Hancock (USA, piano), Raul de Souza (Brazil, trombone) or John Mclaughlin (UK, guitarist) who are still proposing us new experiences, I would say that Jazz is a dying Music… in fine fettle !

The money side is more complex as since forty year and more one use to evaluate something by his supposed price: A new phone will cost rs50000 against almost nothing for an old one (one year old). I think this cannot work when it comes to Art or Music: Vincent Van Gogh, almost nothing alive against some crores when dead… I am not sure that his paintings have changed in between. Since long time the Jazz is no more a business matter (it was the dance Music in the 30’s and 40’s) but one can find Jazz Festivals all around the world filled with thousands people or Ahmad Jamal, I was told, playing a concert in India for 1 Crore (all included).

One should not forget that as an improvised Music the Jazz is changing at every moment. If one reads some definitions for Jazz, one will think that Indian Classical Music fits in.
           
As a musician, how do you maintain creative space and manage creative differences when your final output is a combined one, whereas music is supposedly a very individualistic talent?

I don’t think the Music, unless for a solo performance, is individualistic, It is the reunion of different lives to form one sound which will be the result of the experiences of the members.
Concerning Jazz and Carnatic, for instance, I like to use the word: Symbiosis..
I am part of different bands playing this “Symbiotic Music”  (Emergence, Mystic Vibes, Krishna’s Temple Rock), this is why I came to India; one can watch and hear some pieces on my FB Musician page or YouTube page.

With the very new one Band, Arka, we are recording a music album which is the exact illustration of this interactivity. Coming from different backgrounds the aim is not to express one’s talent but to add the different qualities to found something that none from this band could have made alone. The main difficulty is to go beyond the selfishness. But when the right people are together, I think one can definitely say: 1 +1 +1 = 1 (the Music) ≈ ∞
    
Any collaboration between Western and Indian sounds is instantly labelled as Fusion music, a tag that was just for nomenclature, but lately it has also been attracting some criticism. Your comments?

It is very difficult to describe the Music with words. I think all types of Music are Fusion as nothing comes from nothing  In the case of Indian and Western blend, one is speaking of two Cultures having centuries of existence each with both of them having a long way of thoughts and theorization in Music. My way of seeing these two words is vertically about the Western side, based mainly on the harmony and horizontally concerning the Indian side which, I think, is based mainly on rhythm and melody.

This is why I would prefer to speak of “Symbiotic Music” (Symbiosis: The intimate living together of two dissimilar organisms in a mutually beneficial relationship). It will become a Fusion when a new type will have been created.

About the criticism, it is quite normal. Music will be felt differently by the Musicians who are building the Music and for the listeners who are using It. Many people find difficult to change habits. Coming from France, the first meal in India is an experience. It took me some time to enjoy it since I first have been sick with spice. It is great sometime to be patient.

As the cookers the musicians practice a lot before to offer something. So nothing is new at the time of the proposal for them. From the perspective of the listener sometime the Symbiotic won’t work (It just means that the piece is not good nor well played. I can play trumpet, very badly; it doesn’t mean the trumpet is a bad instrument). But I think the Symbiotic Music can work very well too. I will only name the band Shakti. This is one way to propose something else.

I would want to add that it is maybe better not to merge Western and Indian side because we would lose a lot of types of Music. I think we do need the differences if we do not want to end with a “Cola” world…

Your views on Jaco Pastorius?

To me Jaco Pastorius is the God of the electric Bass (Eb). There is an Eb before and another one after Jaco. The Eb is a quite new instrument created in 1935 (Paul Tutmarc) and used from 1951 (Leo Finder).

When Jaco came out the Eb was 22 years old only. Many wonderful Bass players were already there as Stanley Clarke, Larry Graham to name a few. From there Jaco took the Eb to another level introducing chords, harmonics, solos, melodies etc and in short gave the full status of musical instrument to Eb. This is the main reason of my deep respect to him.
Jaco Pastorius has been awarded best Bass player, best Jazz soloist and his band Weather Report best band of the year. A first one for an electric Bass Player !
By the way, a documentary Jaco: the Film should be release very soon.
               
Your word of advice to any budding musicians coming up?

Maybe even more than in some other fields, practice as much as you can (it is said that Pat Metheny practice as much as 14 hours a day) and as regularly as you can (7 days a week?). It is much better to practice 1 hour every day than 7 hours one day and nothing the rest of the week. It’s not a secret: the more you’ll practice the better you’ll be.

Listen carefully to all types of Music. Carefully means listen and listen again one piece trying to figure out the melody, chords, rhythm, parts of the different instruments, the “journey” of the piece. All that done with ears and paper. Use internet only to correct yourself after your work, not before.
Do not try to copy. It is a non sense to me to try to simulate somebody as everyone is unique. I pay homage to Pastorius with the Tribute but (unfortunately for me) it’s not a Xerox copy. This is this uniqueness that makes the world so beautiful when many are put together (the Unconscious will copy anyway).

Your upcoming projects you are looking forward to?
                                                                            
Among the projects the very new one is Arka a band with Selva Ganesh on kanjira, Singer Karthick, flautist Ravichandra Kulur and guitarist Santhosh Chandran. It is based on the meeting of different “aficionados” (somehow experts in their field), who share a same goal; continue the journey of Musical experience of Life to find new paths. I can say it is a collective work and composition. The result should be available hopefully next year.

As I like to play different types of Music since long time, I enjoy exploring new fields. So I have in mind to make an “almost” solo project using loops and new technologies. 

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"Keep going and please when you try to transfer your experiences transfer it by your heart not your mind" - Sherino Mokhtar


Sherino Mokhtar is an independent artist specializing in site specific art for architectural walls and environments, including painted murals, mosaic murals. She is expert at architectural trompe l'oeil painting, and a versatile and highly skilled restorer with experience in restoring rare books. She is adept at working and communicating across disciplines and management levels. She has been both a popular and highly effective contributor to each of the teams she's worked with, a professional muralist, does oil on canvas portraiture, and pen and ink illustration work. She will also undertake copyist work under license. She is right now staying in Shantiniketan. Abhijit Ganguly spoke to her about her journey. 

What originally made you want to become an artist?

Because art is a creative plant, which is created by God into me.

How would you describe your artistic approach?

My theme really began to develop last in different point of views when I was focusing on the arts, and the emotions they can show. This year I took this idea further and tried to show the expressions of people from their faces. At the beginning of the year I thought that my theme was just people. I wanted to get the contours and details of the conceptual art , but in doing this I was actually trying to convey a feeling or emotion. I like hearing what other people think of them. I like to find out what others think about the person it is of. I did a few portraits and wanted it to remind the older viewers of what it was like to be, and get across the carefree attitude. in my painting. I also did many pictures and in these I wanted to get across their personality. Are so diverse, with different expressions, emotions, skin tones, and ages, and from one picture everyone sees them differently.

Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?

Nature. 

How does your work in Alexandria affect your choices in your painting?

My city is the magical place of the wonderful sea and sea is the most influence reason of inspiration in any art work. 

What materials do you enjoy working with the most? What materials would you like to explore in the future?

Glass - mixed media. 

Is there a thriving art scene where you live and is it easier for women to be accepted by galleries for showing their work?

I don't know maybe yes maybe no. I cannot decide about that because from time to time... things changes. I know art remains for ever cause it's history of documented experience to every artist create a new generation of art future... but really I can't decide that.

What would you say to a young women considering art as a career? 

Keep going and please when you try to transfer your experiences transfer it by your heart not your mind.

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 “I think squash will be in Olympic in the future”- Gregory Gaultier


Gregory Gaultier Known for his imposing physical style and unrelenting stamina, Gregory Gaultier is one of the most combative players on the PSA World Tour. The Frenchman showed promise from the very start of his career, reaching the final of the World Junior Squash Championship in 2000 before losing to Karim Darwish but he made up for that by winning the 2001 British Junior Open. The enigmatic Frenchman reached the final of the World Championship in 2006 after defeating defending-champion Amr Shabana in the semi-final. Despite going two games up in the final against Australian David Palmer, Gaultier was pegged back and the match eventually ended in a 3-2 loss. He has since lost a further three World Championship finals, in 2007 against Amr Shabana, and in 2011 and 2013, on both occasions losing out to Englishman Nick Matthew. Gaultier became the first Frenchman ever to win the British Open, in 2007, defeating compatriot Thierry Lincou in the process. He also became the only Frenchman to win the Tournament of Champions when he triumphed over Nick Matthew in 2009’s final. November 2009 saw Gaultier become World No.1 for the first time, becoming only the second Frenchman to do so, after Lincou, and it would be five years later, in February 2014, before he once again top the world rankings. In 2014 he won both the Windy City Open and British Open, PSA World Series events, while also reaching the final of the Tournament of Champions and Hong Kong Open. Abhijit Ganguly speaks to Gregory Gaultier at the Calcutta Racket Club.


What ignited your interest in squash?

I fell in love with the sport when I was four years old my parents were managing a squash club.

To be a champion squash player, how much is talent and how much is hard work?

You need a bit of talent of course but without work you can’t become a champion.

How much time do you dedicate to squash every day?

I train 5-6 hours a day. It includes fitness in gym or on squash court, squash drills or matches, stretching, visualisation exercises, video analyses...

Are you optimistic about squash getting an entry into the Olympic Games in the future?

I think squash will be in Olympic in the future. They are looking to have news sports and we are positive with all the investments we did and all improvement we had in our sport it should be there.

What are your words of advice for youngster who picks up squash as a sport?

Just to enjoy and give always try hard.

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Promoting the beauty and rich heritage of Indian Vedic and related Martial Arts


                                       Guru Susanto Das Founder of the KSATRIYA MARTIAL ARTS SANGAM
Susanto Das is Auricular Acupuncturist, Psychotherapist Hypnotherapist NLP, and alternative/complimentary herbal medicine and healing massage therapist and Guru Martial Arts, Raja/Hatha Yoga instructor. He speaks to Abhijit Ganguly.

How did your tryst with martial arts happen?

When I was a youth my father had a business started in a town in England. Unknown to him it was full of racist neonazi fascist gangs who hated Asian people and were very very violent. His business was constantly attacked by these mindless hooligans as was I. However the staff at his business were accomplished martial artists and I started my training under them. However after having tasted death at age 13 at school after I was severely beaten by some racist thugs who didn’t want me, an Indian, at the same school as their children, my martial arts training started in earnest first with karate under Sensie Robin Packman, then Ving Tsun Kung Fu under Sifu Clive Potter, then through the grace of God through sincere earnest prayers some real Gurus of ancient Royal South East Asian martial arts from both Malaysia and Indonesia which everyone knows as the art of Pencak Seni Silat today came into my life, adopted me as a family member and taught me first to defend myself and finally to develop my character and spirituality and to become a true contributing civilized human being of society! While continuing my development in the art of Silat, my journey continued with several masters until I met my true master Guru Paul Whitrod aka Parasurama Das at age 15 years who has been a blessing in my life ever since. He taught me the way of true Vedic Indian Martial Arts and the beauty of Krsna (God) Consciousness as expounded by his Divine Grace Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada.

Martial Arts have spiritual qualities. What is your view regarding this?

Martial art without spirituality is like a dead body without a heart or a religion without spirituality which breeds nothing but ego just like we see in most Abrahamic traditions. Spirituality in martial arts sets the goal of achieving purity as the spiritual basis as Vedic martial arts culture contained in the holy scriptures like the Bagavad Gita, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, the Dhanur Veda, etc. are the true origins of martial arts, spirituality and its guidelines, Lord Shiva was the seed originator of all genuine martial arts later passed on by his students Rishi Parasurama and Rishi Agastya amongst others to the first civilization of humanity (India) and over time spread throughout the world into various forms of martial arts like Kung Fu, Karate, etc. The humanistic tradition of Vedic Indian, Asian and Oriental Martial Arts recommends that an adept be humanitarian, honest, noble, modest, and sensitive to the suffering of others. Only when these characteristics are mastered and practised can an adept be called a master or martial artist. This ideology of nobleness of mind and character pervades all true traditional martial arts styles with Guru Parampara.

Could you elaborate the therapeutic use of martial arts?

“Martial arts are a spiritual challenge, not just a physical one. When you learn something, always use the heart”

Martial Arts Masters have been transmitted from generation to generation their metaphysical teachings of what Western psychology refers to as the ‘power within’ each individual.

Evidence of the effectiveness of martial arts in producing affective, cognitive and behavioural benefits has come from a number of studies. Improvements in self-esteem, a more positive response to the physical challenge, greater autonomy, emotional stability and assertiveness and reductions in anxiety and depression have all been associated with martial arts training. There are social benefits of such behavioural change in particular the relationship between martial arts practice and aggression. Martial arts wisdom has it that after consistent practice one becomes less impulsive and aggressive towards others.

You are involved in a lot of social causes. Could you throw some light?

I am involved with The Shambav NGO in India. SAMBHAV is an effort to create a Single Platform to address Multiple Issues with focus on Basic Health, Basic Education and Basic Economic Security. The projects I am directly connected to and involved within Shambav are its women’s empowerment programme, in essence as a self defence instructor/consultant helping to teach and promote the cause and helping develop anti-rape awareness and eve-teasing programme with a curriculum I have termed as the “Don’t Touch Me” system which is also taught by my official reps in the USA Guru Chris Robinson and Carol Marley www.stactstrong.com and my rep In India Instructor Riddhi Dutta.


Also, I am involved with a charity registered in Finland founded by my good friend Dr Parvez Alam PhD, an exceptional master of martial arts. The charity is named Fighting For Lives www.fightingforlives.com of which I held the first international seminar to raise funds and also promote on a regular basis and hold regular seminars and courses annually of martial arts to continually raise fund . The aim of FFL is to hold and organize martial arts events to raise money for less fortunate children around the world.

However, I consider the greatest social cause that I am involved with is the spreading of Sanatan Dharma, especially the Vaishnava order of the International Society for Krsna Conciousness founded by his Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada and my Gurudev’s Mission, Sri Mouni Baba Mission, of which I am the western representative and head of the Sat Chit Ananda Yoga Satsang for the upliftment of global society with the eternal Vedic wisdom especially in the west .

I am the founder of the Ksatriya Martial Arts Sangam in the west where I promote and teach not only the beauty and rich heritage of Indian Vedic and related Martial Arts with the blessings of my Martial arts Guru Paul Whitrod aka Parasurama Das one of the great Vaishnava Martial arts Gurus alive in my humble opinion. I also give lessons, speeches and motivational talks on the rich cultural heritage and the message of Sanatan Dharma and why it is the solution for all of mankind’s problems that we face today collectively and on an individual basis.  I’m also the representative of my Guru Maharaj Jivan Mukhta Guru Das of the Sri Mouni Baba Mission. We have a website www.sriamm.com, He has ordained me to spread the teachings of Sanatan Dharma and head the Sat Chit Ananda Yoga Satsang in the west in cooperation with genuine members/devotees of the International Society of Krsna Consciousness.

You are involved in anti-GM movement. What are your views?

My peaceful activism against the lies, deception and evils of GM began after I read the works of his Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupad and my martial arts Guru Paul Whitrod aka Parasurama Das and their pushing for devotees to buy land and form Community Farms all around the world, I wondered why and when GM and the corrupt corporations as Monsanto and their likes that support and promote this enemy of mankind came into the open. I understood why with the death and suicides of hundreds of thousands of farmers alone in India per year due to GM seeds, crops and pesticides and the poor farmers’ plight worldwide and the health risks to those who partake and ingest daily GM foods worldwide.

There are numerous organizations such as the one run by Vandana Shiva and Shambav NGO in India and Kamala Das aka Lua Cheia aka Jamie Allan www.actnaturallyblog.wordpress.com, www.actnaturally.org who have scientifically and socially exposed the dangers of GM foods and crops to society and the environment through their sincere research and hard work. They have dispelled the myths of over-population and the need for GM foods and crops.

Overall, we must stop this GM cultivation, So, Chant Hare Krishna, stop our internal bickering, that’s what these people in power want, so a pure Vedic philosophy cannot reach out. So don’t worry about how you came down. If you want to stay, then stay by becoming a spiritual master to help all mankind and animal- kind. Srila Prabhupada knew past, present and future, and he knew what is going to happen, but he preached this Krishna philosophy regardless of problems that may come. That should be seen as his mercy. Parasurama das Hare Krishna, So please stop fighting. Your real enemies (also your mind) are those who want to control our food and life. And, of course, your own mind will thus be confused.
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