“I think the amalgamation of jazz and world music is going to become more and more prevalent in the years to come.”- Stich Wynston, Shuffle Demons



Canada's iconic, high energy, award winning jazz funksters, the Shuffle Demons are a band that blends virtuosic jazz, funk, RnB, Rap, Hip Hop, Reggae, World music, avant-garde and more with eye-catching costumes and over the top stage antics. A hit at festivals all over the world from Bangkok to Berlin, the Shuffle Demons toured India  to promote their critically acclaimed, most recent CD 'Clusterfunk'. The band is comprised of  Richard Underhill, Perry White, Kelly Jefferson, George Koller and Stich Wynston. The Juno-nominated band (awarded annually to Canadian artistes), with hits like Spadina Bus and Cheese On Bread to its credit, plays a cool mix of funk jazz, hard bop jazz and jazz rap, all held together with an eccentric wardrobe. Stich Wynston spoke to Abhijit Ganguly.

Where does your band name come from?    

The interesting thing about the Shuffle Demons is that we never had any preconceived notions about putting a band together.  It started out as some musician friends busking on the streets of downtown Toronto to have fun and make a bit of money.  We used to play a tune that our lead saxophone player Richard Underhill wrote called the Shuffle Monster.  One day we were playing on the street at Yonge and Bloor, a major intersection in downtown Toronto.  We had just finished playing the Shuffle Monster and then somebody in the crowd yelled out "Hey, what do you guys call yourselves?  To which Richard blurted out "The...um..Ah...Shuffle...Demons!".  And that's how we got our name.  It was totally impromptu, which basically describes the entire evolution of the band.  

How would you describe and define your music?

As all of the critics who reviewed our most recent CD 'Clusterfunk' pointed out, the Shuffle Demons cannot be categorized.  We have basically taken all of our very eclectic influences, put them together in a very unique way, and added our own personalities into the mix to come up with something totally fresh and original.  High energy, risk taking, and top notch musicianship define the band's sound and approach. 

What are your band’s biggest musical influences?

We have and incorporate so many different musical influences into our group that it is hard to pin down what are biggest musical influences are. 

You have some very unique, funny songs. What’s the driving force behind the lyrics?

We find joy and humour in many of the commonalities that we all experience in our everyday lives. 

How important, would you say, are music festivals in growing the careers of singers and musicians?

Music festivals are very important in the career development of musicians because there are usually very large built in audiences so it gives the musicians instant exposure which can really bode well for your career. 

Do you enjoy playing to new crowds and do these journeys make you discover a new side to your music?

Absolutely!  It's like meeting someone that you have never met before and discovering what makes them unique.  We have had the good fortune of touring all over the world and meeting lots of people from very diverse cultural backgrounds and these experiences have enriched our lives and made their way into our music.

Where do you see jazz music heading in the coming years?


That is a very difficult question to answer.  The word 'jazz' is so wide open now because it is played and interpreted by musicians from all over the world.  I think the amalgamation of jazz and world music is going to become more and more prevalent in the years to come.


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“Music that explores improvisation excites me.”- Bart Stenhouse



Australian born multi-instrumentalist and composer Bart Stenhouse has a deep interest in jazz, world, fusion and improvisational styles of music and specializes in the guitar, bass guitar and electric mandolin. His playing style blends different cultures and styles to re-define musical genres and experiment with sonic landscapes.

He has been fine tuning his skills in guitar and bass guitar over the past twenty years, completing a Bachelor of Music in Jazz at the Queensland Conservatorium in 2005 and continuing to study privately with some of the world's best. This has included study with North Indian Classical maestro Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya, who plays the Chaturangui (Indian Slide Guitar). Bart has also travelled to Spain and North America to study with different flamenco and jazz musicians, expanding his skill and knowledge in these music genres. Abhijit Ganguly spoke to him on the sidelines of The India International Guitar Festival 2016 

Tell us how your journey into the world of music began?

My journey into the world of music began when I was 9 years old, originally as a trumpet player.  I didn’t really connect with the instrument throughout my former years studying it and I wasn’t really a great student at first! I did have a great teacher, though from Ireland who taught me about basic rhythm, harmony and the value of discipline when working with music, which really shaped me in the years to come. I began playing the guitar at age 10 and really started applying myself to the instrument a year or two later.

As an artist where do you draw your inspiration?

Life! There is so much around me that influences my writing and playing. Meditation and Buddhism are quite important parts of my life, so momentary experiences and reflective emotions are often enough to push me in a certain direction to write. The study of improvisation in music and cultivating mindfulness in everyday life are one and the same to me.

Musically speaking, there are three main genres that have shaped what I do and will continue to do so.  They are jazz fusion (and jazz in general), traditional flamenco music from Spain and North Indian (Hindustani) classical music.  I am also a huge fan of South Indian or Carnatic music, rock, blues, Brazilian samba and Afro-Cuban music, funk, Western Classical, and Arabic musics. I love music that expresses in honest depth the emotional things that we all experience as human beings – love, pain, disappointment, grief, joy, drive, anger, lust, exhilaration etc.  I guess great artists like the late Bob Brozman, my Guruji Debashish Bhattacharya and John McLaughlin have all inspired me also want to collaborate with world cultures and study the beauty of their traditions. Music that explores improvisation excites me.

How did your interest in Indian classical music come music come about?

I was contacted by a local tabla player in Brisbane to collaborate and he suggested we try and play some gigs together.  We ended up putting together a small group with guitar, sitar and tabla and I learnt a great deal in the period it was together!

I already had a big affection for Indian Raag music in general before this though, having collected records of a lot of great Hindustani artists such as Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and others.  On top of this I was also a huge fan of John McLaughlin’s work (still am) particularly with Shakti and Remember Shakti.  This group in particular helped me to decide to dedicate my life to learning and exploring world music traditions.

You are a student of Pt  Debashish Bhattacharya. How important is Guru-Shishya Parampara in Indian classical music?

Yes, that’s right. It’s incredibly important, I believe, maybe the only way to learn this music to the level the great artists have.  It is very difficult for a student from the west to study this music anywhere near the depth that a local student could for many reasons unless they live there for long periods of time.  So I guess the relationship I have with Guruji is not a traditional one in that sense. I have learned so much the lessons I have had, studying with other students and watching him perform. I know I will continue to return as often as I can to absorb as much as I can from him.  He has helped me personally so much in my development.

I hope that this kind of music pedagogy or teaching continues well into the future to preserve this wonderful art form for many generations to come in India!   

Talking about your Indian connection, how do you feel knowledge about India has enriched you as a musician?

That’s easy. On every level! It has dramatically helped my knowledge and application of rhythm for one, it has made me rethink how I approach building a melody, the use of colour and space, even in harmonic music with chord changes like jazz, made me explore and reevaluate what role the human spirit and mind have when performing music and has radically altered how I approach performance practice, how I compose and think of music in general now. And finally, it has really shown me what mastery is and the dedication it takes to achieve it.

I am very lucky to have had this wonderful music become part of my life.

Some say, Jazz is like Indian Classical music because of the improvisation needed in both genres. What is your opinion about the same?

Definitely, they share a lot of attributes, but there are distinct differences too.  I think the spirit of exploration and mastery is the same in both, but the forms that they are explored are quite different.

For instance, we don’t have the ascending and descending forms of scales/phrases as used in Raags, we can often change Tala for different sections of pieces and have harmonic chord changes to navigate unlike Raag music.  But I do believe that there is a huge amount of common ground between both that can be shared and borrowed from either so that is a fair statement. I certainly have been able to explore this common ground in my own work.

What is your take on guitar festivals like IIGF?  How important are these festivals according to you?

They are fantastic and very important to developing artists. Not only do they bring new audiences to different genres of (guitar based) music, but they also offer an amazing opportunity for musicians from around the world to showcase their traditions and music and display how different world music cultures (Indian music in this case) have influenced their artistic practice. Playing the Indian International Guitar Festival this year has inspired me incredibly to continue my study of improvisation, composition, and world music cultures.

I hope to play these kinds of festivals many times more in the future!

What are your forthcoming collaborations, tours and albums?

This year will be a big one. I am hoping to get my electric jazz fusion ensemble the Bart Stenhouse Group (my main artistic vehicle currently) into my recording studio in Byron Bay this year to record my forth jazz-fusion album.  I always try to explore different concepts and textures on each album, so I think it will be quite different from my first three.
We are starting to get live work booked around Australia and I foresee much more coming in for the group as the year goes on.  We are also looking at the possibility of a small tour of India, Australia, and South East Asia in the next 18 months too.  

As well as this I am currently in talks with a few great guitar players from the US and Germany about a possible Australian tour in the next 18 months.

And finally, I am working on another ensemble to explore a more modal world based compositions.  It will feature electric bass, tabla, bansuri flute and flamenco and electric guitar and should be performed by the end of the year. I hope to record the album’s worth of music I have already written for this ensemble at some point in 2016 as well. 

I regularly update my website www.bartstenhouse.com with news and media on everything as it happens, so if people are interested then they can follow everything happening in my musical world there via the subscription email list and web blogs.


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“You play football because you love the game”- Kareem Omolaja Nurain


Nigerian football players have surely contributed to Indian football. Kareem Omolaja Nurain is one such Nigerian footballer. Kareem joined Spartan Football Academy of Lagos in 2002 at the of 12. In 2004 he represented Nigeria in All West African Academical Cup, which Nigeria won and he adjudged best defender of the tournament. In 2007 Kareem signed his first professional contract with the Lagos-based club Ola Oluwa Asejere FC from there he moved to Libyan Premier League club Tersanah where he stayed for a couple of seasons. Kareem is known for his solid defending and clean tackles on the ball, who can also play as central midfield. Kareem is a specialist of dead ball and scored many goals from dead ball situations throughout his career. Abhijit Ganguly spoke with Kareem about his football life.


How did you start playing football? 

I was born in a family that loved sports. My elder brother started playing football. He was my inspiration. My parents were totally supportive of my playing football.


How did you end up playing football in India?

I was playing in Libya. After the end of the league, I was supposed to go to Malaysia to play. Unfortunately, that year the Malaysian football federation stopped any foreign players from playing in the league. I had a friend who was playing in the J&K Bank (Kashmir). He suggested me to come to Kashmir and play. So I started playing for J&K Bank. Later on I played for J CT F.C (Punjab) and Royal Wahingdoh F.C (Shillong). In 2013 I came to Kolkata and started playing for Southern Samity. Soon I went to play for Green Valley F.C (Assam) and then again played for Southern Samity for the Kolkata league. After that I played for Lonestar F.C (Kashmir), Morning Star F.C (Assam) and eventually Mohammedan Sporting Club. When I was playing in Libya, I was playing as a defensive mid fielder, but here in India I play as a stopper. Playing for all these clubs was a great experience for me. I enjoyed playing for the Royal Wahingdoh the most!

What are your thoughts on football here in Kolkata? 

When I first started playing in Kolkata, there was more competition in the I-league as there were many clubs playing. Unfortunately, now few clubs are playing and competition is less. India is still far behind international standards. But the good thing is that they are developing now. Earlier most of the clubs didn’t have any academy of their own. Now most of the clubs have an academy of their own and they train players from the grassroots level. 


Do you think standard of i-league has improved because of foreigners?

Yes, it helps a lot. The more the local boys play with foreigners, the more experienced they will get. Indian players will be benefiting from learning from senior professionals who have played at the top level.

According to you what qualities should a stopper have?

Firstly, you have to have patience.  Secondly, you have to have good timing sense. You must know how to communicate with your fellow players and be a leader. It is very important to be cool and calm. 

Tell us which sportsperson inspires you the most?

REAL MADRID defender Fernando Hierro.

What has been the most memorable moment for you so far?

For me the best moment was to get the contract to play for Libya. I didn’t expect. It was a big surprise! I was practicing with a first division team there. At 9 30 in the night my agent called my brother that they want to sign me. It was a big moment for me.

Football still remains on the back foot when compared to other sports, especially cricket, in India. 


What are your words of advice for aspiring footballers here?

In Africa, when we are small and start playing football, we don’t think of money, we play just for the love of the game. Most of the African players start from the street. Money shouldn’t be the focus. You play football because you love the game.

What are your future plans?

I am planning to open a football academy for the underprivileged. Lots of children are interested in football. Even street children play football. The only thing is that they can't afford to go to an academy.

A word or two about Kolkata? 

The passion for football here is beyond imagination.  If you want to make a big name in football in India, you need to play in Kolkata. If you are a successful footballer here you can play anywhere in India.

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"Maverick of Sax-Tech" - Gianni Denitto


Gianni Denitto is a proud artist of Universal Music Italy, Roland Europe, Rampone & Cazzani Italian Handmade Saxophones and ‘One of the best Italian jazz musicians according to the charts of “Musica Jazz” magazine. Gianni Denitto has a wealth of experience in jazz, classical, electronic, sound design and rock music. Gianni completed a Bachelor Degree with honours both in classical music and in jazz after 11 years studying at the Conservatory in Torino, Italy. From 2013 he started traveling around the world playing his solo saxophone performance with electronics, doing jazz concerts with local musicians and teaching in music academies and universities. He also collaborated with the Italian Institute of Culture in Beijing, Shanghai, Mumbai and Delhi, Pretoria; Italian Embassy in Beijing and Dakar; Kolkata, Perth and Canton Italian Consulates. Abhijit Ganguly spoke to Gianni about his musical life.
  
When did you know that you wanted music to be your life?

When I was around 16 years old, I didn't like my regular studies in accountancy; four times a week, during the afternoon I was at the Music Academy to work hard practicing music. Soon some bands started to call me. Soon I had my first concert. It was wonderful, pure adrenaline! So I decided to try choosing the path of becoming a professional musician. It was really hard to realize the dream, many times I had big problems with money and with parents too. But now they are happy.

Over the last decade, we have seen significant usage of technology in music. Your take on that?

I always loved technology and computer music, since 1996. I had my first computer and I tried to compose songs, even without saxophone just with loops and keys etc. I also play piano and guitar. I have collaborated with dancing and acting companies making music for their shows.  Then I focused on jazz music for 6 years. No technology. Now, with the brain on a sofa project, I tried to make a shake of all my experiences in music, and electronic music surely plays a big part of the project.

With all of the locations you have had the opportunity to perform in and different venue types, have you been able to establish a favorite place to perform?

Of course not! Every venue has his own flavour, taste, and it's good to change it. It’s like one day pasta, other day pizza, then rice. I like small venues like clubs, big festival stages, and theatres, non-conventional stages like museums or design spaces.
The main thing is to play in a place where people can focus on the music and enjoy. I hate places where live music is just a background.

Do you have any advice for the multitudes of young saxophone students who are sitting in practice rooms around the globe, wondering what their next move should be?

Charles "Bird" Parker, Jr, American jazz saxophonist is my greatest influence. I would quote him-“Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, there’s no boundary line to art. You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.”

Apart from working on your albums, you've been busy working in a variety of different collaborations. What interests you in collaborations?
  
Yes, I like jazz and world music.  I have traveled in many countries, but in Italy there are lots of artists from all over the globe. Actually I am performing a lot with Kora Beat, a quintet half Italian half Senegal (West Africa). Kora is an African harp, it creates sound which is magical. Hoping to bring this project to India!!

What projects are you excited about right now?

I will record one section of my new album, the acoustic trio. It will be a double CD, one acoustic one electronic: Saxophone Double bass and drums. Every song will have a guest artist living in Torino but originally from another country. We will play traditional songs from all over the world, and guest's composition too. In Torino there is also a great tabla player from Manali!

The electronic one will be "Brain on a sofa” like, but I am inviting musician that I met all around the globe to improvise on my music, original music. This new album wants to fix this traveling period of my life.

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"People play their Personality" - Patrick Farrell



Patrick ‘PW’ Farrell is a solo artist, session musician, producer, composer, author and teacher. He is a graduate of both the Queensland Conservatorium of Music (Bachelor of Music – Jazz Performance) and the Victorian College of the Arts (Graduate Diploma of Performance). He has toured internationally with artists such as Jetty Road (‘Golden Guitar’ winning Australian country music act), appeared on television with the likes of Jessica Mauboy (Australian Idol) and worked in theatres, clubs, ships, hotels, cafes, bars and concert halls the world over. In 2011 he released his critically acclaimed debut album 'The Life Electric' (available on iTunes) which he composed, produced and marketed independently.  Recently, Patrick performed at the Indian International Guitar Festival (IIGF) 2016. The Grammy Nominee from Kolkata Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya started this celebration of music last year dedicating to his guru Indian classical guitar pioneer Pt. Brij Bhushan Kabra. Abhijit Ganguly spoke to Patrick about his musical journey and kolkata experience.

Tell us about your formative years in music. What made you take up the guitar in the first place?

My first instrument was piano, which I began at age 5. I was a terrible student, more interested in making up my own songs and melodies rather than practice what I was given. I was very interested in sports when I was young, so my next instrument was the drum kit…. I think I was attracted to the physicality of it. 

I asked to begin guitar lessons at school because I thought it was a “cool” instrument, but a clever teacher explained to me that bass guitar is like the link between drums and piano, so I started learning bass and never looked back!

Who were your inspirations growing up?

My first real inspiration for the instrument was my bass teacher, or guru, in high school, Anthony Dawkins. He was not just an inspiration for the instrument, but also philosophically, Anthony was a real role model for me, even though he might be surprised to hear that! He was so dedicated to the art of whatever he set his mind to, and seemed to be able to relate the lessons learned in any craft to rest of life and how it should be lived. 

Musically, my first bass influences were popular acid jazz bands of the 90s, like Jamiroquai, Brand New Heavies and D.I.G. (Australian band). Then I discovered 80s and 70s Funk such as Brothers Johnson, Parliament Funkadelic and The GAP Band. I would listen to this music all day (headphones in class) but interestingly, I would often jam along to it and often solo over the top on bass, I was still in love with making things up! Anthony then introduced me to Miles Davis and Weather Report, which is how I discovered Jazz and Jazz Fusion. 

Jazz Fusion music really felt like home to me because it was a combination of the Funk rhythms I liked and the harmony I liked in Jazz. Players which influenced me from this time on being people like Jaco Pastorious, Gary Willis, Neil Jason, Matt Garrison, Stanley Clarke, T. M. Stevens, Kai Eckhardt etc. More recently I’ve really been inspired by Hadrien Feraud, Janek Gwizdala and Evan Marien. I’ve always also studied strictly ‘groove players’ like Neil Stubenhaus and Will Lee because I believe a bass player’s most important skill is to be able to groove. 

How have your approaches to practicing guitar evolved over the years? When you started out playing guitar, what did you focus on them and how has your focus changed between then and now?

When I was younger, I was a sportsman (rugby) and I practiced my instrument the same way I trained. I divided the art of playing into key areas (time, ear training, sight reading, technique) and would divide my practice time into these key areas. As I developed I would change these key areas to things like ‘transcription’ and ‘repertoire’ etc. I call this the ‘partitioned practice method’. When I went to university (at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music) I quickly realized that there were many very gifted young musicians and that if I wanted to have a chance I would have to practice much more consistently so I began a strict regimen of practicing 6 hours a day when I had no gigs on and 4 hours a day if there was a gig. By setting a stopwatch I was able to keep myself honest. 

As I’ve gotten older I’ve now turned to practice music as a whole as I’m usually needing to learn repertoire or develop my own material. It is only when I discover something very specific that I need to work on that I partition my practice. I recently began lessons on Indian rhythmic concepts so I am giving that topic its own practice time. 

Do you believe in the phenomenon of natural talent? If not, what do you think is the single most important attribute that one needs to have to become a great guitarist?

I take issue with the word talent because it deifies the quick learner and absolves the poor teacher. People who are seemingly ‘born with it’ are not born with anything more than a very sharp mind and an ability to absorb and understand sound. That is a beautiful thing and I do feel that these people have a gift. But elevating the young prodigy to god like status, while understandable, does little to illuminate how it is that that young person could absorb and understand codified sound so quickly. In other words, we should study HOW it is that the learning pathways can be so open with some people rather than just saying ‘well they’re just gifted’, despite how tempting it may be to do so. 

Furthermore, music is a multifaceted thing. The relationship between instrumentalist and their instrument adds a dimension that can transcend other useful skills like ‘perfect pitch’ and advanced ‘musical memory’. And finally musical performance is the interface of performer and listener, whereby more intangibles are involved than just the skill set of the musician. I’ve always said ‘people play their personality’. The decisions people make in improvised music (when to step forward musically or back, when to dig in, what direction they choose musically) is ultimately a reflection of their personality. In other words, if the world’s most advanced savant is no fun to hang around, they’re probably no fun to listen to either, once you’ve stopped marvelling at their skill. 

So what do I believe is the most important attribute one needs to be a great guitarist (bass guitarist)? 

A deep, genuine love of music. 

From that comes dedication and from that comes progress. 

What was your first reaction when you were approached to play in Kolkata? Tell us one unique experience that you've had in Kolkata?

 I had actually just asked the universe to deliver me a new opportunity, something I could learn from and be inspired by. Something I have wanted to work on in my playing is improvising with more rhythmic conviction in odd time signatures and then my phone rings and this Bart Stenhouse guy tells me he is looking for a bass player to play at the India International Guitar Festival!

For me the entire experience of Kolkata was profound. It helped put many things in perspective for me. I visited the Mother Teresa House and Kalighat Temple, two deeply moving experiences, and made beautiful friends while in India. The highlight of my trip was attending an open air Indian Classical Music concert. Seeing the audience applauds a well executed Tihai in a slow 7 beat cycle was a real ‘eye opener’ to just how well respected music is in this culture vs my own. 

Music is not held in such high regard in Australian society as it is in India. Sophisticated instrumental music is a particularly hard sell due to a lack of musical education and understanding in the listening public and a wealth of other less intellectually engaging distractions of which music is considered to be one option. 

What advice would you give to budding bassists on learning the art of playing bass and perfecting it?

First of all, many of the answers you seek are in the recordings. I was lucky enough to grow up in the age of hard copy albums, before the iTunes era. I used to buy an album, take it home and listen from cover to cover while reading the liner notes. Then when I heard a musician, I particularly liked I would research them and buy the albums they played on. In this way I cultivated a little musical world of sounds I loved. In this day and age of streaming music online I imagine it would be hard to narrow your listening field in this way, but that is my advice: find a musician you love and explore their music, transcribe etc. before moving on. 

Next bit of advice is practice, practice, practice!

Give us a sneak peek into your future projects? 

Well, my debut album (which is available at www.pwfarrell.com) is now 4 years old and I feel that I’ve now got more to say. I am collaborating with my good friend and musical colleague Nick Hatch (Oslo based drummer and producer) on my follow up album. I can’t wait to get started! Tomorrow I head off to L.A. to have some down time at the NAMM show and meet up with the builder of my bass guitar, Michael Tobias (of MTD Guitars) and I’m looking forward to seeing what future instruments they have planned!

Bart Stenhouse (who I travelled to India with) is already booking in tours for 2016/17 and I also have a tour coming up with amazing Australian Jazz Fusion pianist Cleon Barraclough as well as some shows with Australian Soul/Blues legend Lachy Doley which I’m really, very excited about! The rest of my diary at this moment is a steady grind of sideman gigs about town to pay the bills and I love it! Music is the most beautiful gift! 

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"Taekwondo is for everyone and can be done anywhere" - Ahmad Siyar Zia



Ahmad Siyar Zia started Taekwondo at age of 12. Initially he used to do gymnastics, and since facilities for gymnastics were quite limited, he was not much happy with the environment. His first coach was Hafiz Hashimi and later on Abbas Hussaini converted his style from old Taekwondo School to Modern Taekwondo School. For long years, he practiced under his guidance, and his club-mates were Ruhullah Nekpai, his brother (Habib Nekpai), and some other international players, and during those years, he fought huge numbers of competitions, leagues and other friendly matches, finally, he met Min SinHak the Korean master who was the trainer on the national team. Zia explains, “The reasons for starting Taekwondo were, first encouragements of my elder brothers, who were both champions and very well known players, and secondly, this is a sport that you can throw out your stress and anger with an ethical way if you are one of the kids who is born in war.”

He adds, “This game is about respect, self-confidence and self- control from beginning till end, for some people this a way of life, Taekwondo develops internal combat capabilities and then teaches how to control them. Teaches the real meaning of self- defense. This is an ugly truth that when someone some kind of power definitely he or she wishes to use it one way or another to fulfill the desire, even if the power is violent sometimes, but Taekwondo or I have to say  in general all branches of martial arts, teaches someone how to explore combat capabilities and how to utilize them in the very right place, right time and right manner.”

How is the present scenario of Taekwondo in Afghanistan? Is the Afghan government helping to promote Taekwondo within the country? Zia feels, “Presently, Taekwondo is quite good   in Afghanistan, I can say after football that most people play, this is the second game which is more popular and well played, and most people prefer over other branches of martial arts, especially, after one silver medal  from  World  Taekwondo competitions which was brought by our well known player Ahmad Nisar Bhawi, who defeated the world champion from Iran Hadi Sayee, and 2 bronze medals brought by Ruhullah Nekpai from Olympics 2008 [China] and 2012 [London]. The game became much more popular, and since the game and the players in are huge hopes for Afghanistan’s government for the better future of the country, our government supports the game quite a lot, also other business men, or companies try to finance events and expenditures.

In 2007, he got a scholarship through ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) to India for his Bachelors and since decided to go for Computer Science, He finished his computer science degree from Kurukshetra University / Haryana, 2007 - 2010, and completed MCA from Annex college of management studies (Salt Lake), and is planning to go for his PhD to Delhi. He is also Cyber Security Expert. Recently he won gold medal ROY’S TAEKWONDO ACADEMY, INDIA- 2nd State RTA Challenge Cup & 2014 West Bengal State Taekwondo Championship. Roy’s Taekwondo Academy’ is an Overseas Member of KUKKIWON (World Taekwondo Head Quarters), Seoul, South Korea. The ACADEMY is the dream institution formed by Taekwondo Hall of Fame Master Pradipta Kumar Roy and Ruma Roy Chowdhury formed to realize dreams of thousands of Taekwondo enthusiasts to perform preach and practice the great art OT Taekwondo in its real form.


Any message for the Taekwondo enthusiasts? Zia says, “Well, for youngsters of violent nature who are not happy with their angry mind, who wishes to get rid of their negative hyper, I advise them to join Taekwondo, because this game will help them to get rid of their anger in a very proper way. For people who always wish to explore their combat capabilities and wish to learn self- defense this is an advisable sport, as this sport will teach everything step  by step and increases the patience level and result in becoming a skillful player / performer. Last but not the least, for people of older age, I advise the Taekwondo as they will feel much better when they start and after few months of practice they find out that they don't face all those knees, bones and other minor even sometimes major sickness that happens with passage of age. Taekwondo is for everyone and can be done anywhere".
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Kolkata’s music community gets a taste of Italian opera music

                                                                                       Fabio Marra and Angela Papale                                                                                         
Famous Italian opera personalities Angela Papale and Fabio Marra visited Kolkata, India last month. They were in the cultural capital of India to attend a workshopas a part of their Yuva Music Festival organised by Academy for Musical Excellence (AMEC). The ensuing festival consists of 20 concerts, 10 competitions, six talk shows, and one international workshop and master class.

Angela is a renowned opera singer of international fame. According to critics, her “warm and wonderful voice” transforms the opera into a celestial stage. Angela received her training from several celebrated names of Italian music like Magda Olivero, Paolo Montarsolo and Fiorenza Cossotto. Fabio on the other hand, is one of the most appreciated pianists associated with Italian opera. He is credited with rediscovering some works of Italian musical legends Paisiello and Piccinni.


Speaking at the workshop Fabio said, “The important part of this type of music is emotion and to make contact with the audience.” He explained the music must transport the audience to the make-belief world of opera. Angela said, "Pitch is an important element in the opera beginning with a low note but ending on a very high note.”

The Yuva Music Festival is a musical movement aimed to unite music enthusiasts. The director of the festival Surendranath Majumdar said, “This multi-faceted festival is benefitting our participants in overall character building and giving them an opportunity to showcase their talents".”
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Music culture and hardware/software R & D in a North/South Asian context

Prof. T M Hoffman, Performing artist and ethnomusicologist
Director, Indo-Japanese Music Exchange Association 
Prof. T M Hoffman is born in the USA, spent 40 years in Asia, mainly Japan & India. Trained by top masters in classical piano (Grace Mundorf Myers, USA), Japanese flute, shakuhachi (Living National Treasure Yamaguchi Goro, Japan), Hindustani classical vocal music (PT. Ganesh Prasad Mishra, Benares/Lucknow) and tabla (Dr S K Varma, Lucknow). Honours graduate of four universities in USA, Japan & India. Lecturer in Ethnomusicology (Keio University, others), Founder/Director of Indo-Japanese Music Exchange Association, estab. 1989. Has performed in concerts, festivals and TV and radio throughout South and SE Asia, Japan, USA, UK. Author and translator of books and essays in Japanese, English and Hindi. Numerous awards from USA, Japan & India. He shares his thoughts with Abhijit Ganguly:

Factors of change in economic and political histories have their counterparts in ever-evolving language and music cultures. Principles of economy operate in every system of production, propagation and preservation we may encounter. These exist as local/national, regional and global entities which interact to bring about development.

The ‘global view’ seems to be plagued by tunnel vision that recognizes and exploits potential ‘East-West’ development rather than ‘North-South’. Indian/Persian/Turkish/Arabian influences were transmitted to Europe and then the Americas. Central Asian influences were coalesced in China and then passed through Korea into Japan. Both of these examples represent passage horizontally – East to West  in  the former, west to east in the latter – characterizing exchanges in the arts, sciences and professions. In music, little has been written about transmission of fundamental constructs in music and language from South Asia northward into China, Korea and Japan, though these latitudinal transfers have facilitated significant developments in aural cultures in East Asia. Evolution of European classical music also proceeded northward from Greece to Italy and on through France to Germany, Netherlands, etc. Later, the meeting on a north-south axis of Europe and Africa gave birth to jazz, the most significant musical art of the so-called New World.

tabla+shamisen @ SMILE home for aged
The present rapid increase in economic activity between India and Japan builds upon a complementary unity of opposites in the respective cultures. Noting the relative development in India of the abstract/universal (as reflected in computer software), and in Japan the specific/concrete (as in hardware), our NPO Indo-Japanese Music Exchange Association (estab. 1989) has, among other initiatives, promoted the application of ‘Indian software’ (raga & tala) to ultimately compatible ‘Japanese hardware’ (instruments). The Japanese flute, shakuhachi was in 1992 fully certified in Hindustani classical music, and 13-stringed koto demonstrates unparalleled versatility for such. The founder of IJMEA, being an American four decades in Japan and India/S Asia, has been inspired to learn that India-Japan political, economic and cultural relations have benefited from third-party engagement in the bilateral relationship.

Miss World & Mr Universe flute 
In the introductory remarks at my concert and workshop in Sangeet Research Academy (Kolkata) on 16 February 2008, Japanese Consul-General Motoyoshi Noro related that “Rabindranath Tagore and (Japanese cultural icon) Okakura Tenshin were first introduced to each other at the American Consulate in Kolkata, resulting in the establishment of Consulate of Japan in 1907. Now, a century later, an American has brought the two music cultures of India and Japan together with authentic Indian music with traditional Japanese instruments, and our classical poetry rendered in forms of classical Indian vocal music.” Furthermore, we know that Tenshin had been initially introduced to Indian and Bengali culture through meeting Swami Vivekananda at the World Conference on Religions in Chicago, USA, which led to Tenshin’s visit to India and meeting with Tagore.

So, as in political and economic spheres, two local (national) entities - e.g., software of India and hardware of Japan - can effect one regional development - Indo-Japanese classical crossover music – with limited cooperation from a global partner. However, R & D efforts in this vein can in time best benefit the global world if the being-in-becoming developments are initially handled primarily by the members of the region. Rather than introduce yet another Western instrument for use in Asian music, including ragadari Sangeet - for this is what has occurred through the centuries of East-West contacts - our NPO IJMEA chose from the scores of instruments in Asia which are intrinsically suited for Indian music. We look forward to other developments – in the arts, education, trade, industry, and more – utilizing the many unexplored channels along the North-South corridor of the Asian region.

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Saxophone and Indian Classical music

                                                                            Jesse Bannister
John Coltrane, one of the leading jazz saxophonists of the 1960s had a kind of ‘spiritual awakening’ that led him to start studying Indian religion and philosophy and even Indian raga music, with Pandit Ravi Shankar as his mentor. He calls it a search for a “multicultural theory of musical transcendence” based on the mystical principles of the spiritual traditions of Indian ragas. That elevated his own western music to greater heights based on these profound realizations.

Jesse Bannister is a unique musician who is respected as the leading Indian saxophonist in Europe. Jesse plays North Indian Classical Music on the saxophone to a professional level. Jesse said, “I was first inspired to play saxophone by listening to saxophonist Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane at the age of 15. I just wanted to play with the energy and direct myself musically towards something and so I saved up the money to buy a saxophone.”

Having arrived in Chennai in 1998, with the singular purpose of learning Carnatic music, Dutch saxophone player, Maarten Visser, stayed on. But in the process, learnt much more than simply the grammar of Carnatic music. Marten said, “As a child I went with my parents to many classical orchestral concerts in Holland. Once we went to a free jazz concert, the saxophonist made a lasting impression, but I was too young to play then, only 5. So, I started learning to play the piano and when I turned 12/13 I switched to saxophone. At that point I was very much attracted to the music of Clarence Clemons (rock saxophonist- played with the E Street Band) and Archie Shepp (free jazz saxophonist).” Today he traverses a strange soundscape: his saxophone solos and compositions swing from conservatory-tinged jazz to a very experimental and often unearthly sound. Visser frequently pushes his saxophone to the limit, coercing “multi-phonics and micro-tonality” from the instrument.

                                                        Maarten Visser
Jesse felt, “Saxophone has grown from being a laughter instrument, played in the circus line to a highly respected classical instrument as well as playing forms of world music throughout the world. I think it has got a certain appeal because of its sonorous quality close to the voice. It will always be seen as a modern instrument.”He adds, “Saxophone is really appropriate for Indian classical music as it has melodious waves imitating the voice using long notes and also getting across the feeling of the music in raga phases, especially the rhythmic aspect and improvisation aspect and it certainly has a place in northern Indian classical music. I have studied both western music and Indian classical music. I have engrossed myself in both traditions.”

Talking about his inspiration behind the compositions, Maarten says, “Behind every composition there is an idea in sound. I often try to find ideas that can be repeated and brought over time towards a turning point or climax. This can be in pitch, volume, intensity etc.

This idea in sound I will try to combine with other ideas in sound, in a way that the ideas clash, complement, or resist each other. I came to this way of working after discarding melody, harmony, rhythm as the building blocks of music. So, pure sound inspires me.”Recently Rooh Music launched Maarten’s album OTO3.

Technology is a great communicator for musicians. Jesse said, “We have released an app called Groove India. This app helps one to play Indo- Jazz. It has got great Indian music ideas for improvisers. It has got some great jazz ideas and it brings those together for using different audio loops the way one can manipulate the sound, change the beats, change the pitch and practice in certain scale and certain rhythms to improve one’s improvisation.”

Jesse said, “Just play from your heart. Begin a strong relationship with your instrument through your whole body and your whole self.” Maarten felt, “A good saxophonist must have thought about and developed his sound on the instrument.

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