Radha Thomas & Aman Mahajan, Bangalore Blues - Subcontinental Records
RADHA THOMAS, COMPOSER, VOCALIST
Radha Thomas began headlining as a singer while still in her teens in a rock and roll band called Human Bondage, which was India's most popular band in the 70s. She soon developed a strong taste for jazz, which is her favourite kind of music. She also began combining the tonal complexities of jazz with the rhythmic nuances of Indian classical music.
Thomas (who was Radha Shottam then) represented India at European jazz festivals and made her way to New York, the home of jazz, where she lived and performed for almost 20 years with such musicians as Michael Brecker, John Scofield, John Faddis, Alex Blake, Buddy Williams, Harvey Mason, Anthony Jackson, John Abercrombie, Ryo Kawasaki, Joe Farrell and many others in some of NYC's most famous jazz clubs including Sweet Basil, The Bottom Line, Alice Tully Hall and more.
The album Mirror of my Mind showcased her talents in the USA for the first time in 1979. Her Indian classical vocal training came first from Kumar Gandharva in New Delhi at the Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya, and subsequently with Ustad Farid Ud Din Dagar of the famed Dagar Brothers in the dying art of Drupad singing.
She has performed at many jazz festivals around the world and in India including in 2015, 2016 at EuropaFest in Romania, the South Asia Performing Arts Festival in New York, and prior to that, Jazz Yatra, Bengaluru Habba, Indigo Fest, Isai Fest and other popular and prominent festivals in India and abroad. In addition to performing at jazz clubs all over India.
She also hosted a weekly jazz show on Radio Indigo in Bangalore. She is a published author with several novels. 'Men On My Mind' and 'More Men On My Mind' for India's most well-known publishers called Rupa Publications and a weight loss book called 'The Cauliflower Diet' for Penguin Random House. She has just completed her fourth novel about the street dogs of India called Dog Tails.
AMAN MAHAJAN, KEYBOARDS
Aman Mahajan is a pianist, composer and improviser based in Bangalore, India, playing improvised music across a diversity of musical idioms. His current work is influenced by traditional and contemporary forms of music from around the world, often concept-driven, and inspired by a sense of unity and connection. He is keenly interested in improvised music as a medium of interaction and exploration.
Mahajan is presently based in Bangalore, involved with his solo piano project REFUGE, and other collaborations including Tinctures with Berlin-based guitarist Nishad Pandey, 2 For the Road with vocalist Radha Thomas, and cross-cultural trio Mystik Vibes with percussionist Muthu Kumar, and flautist Amith Nadig.
He has performed widely on the Indian music circuit, and in Europe and USA, at a number of music venues, concert halls and music festivals, including Murszene Graz (Austria, 2019), Jazzwerkstatt Graz (Austria, 2018), Jazz Utsav (New Delhi, 2017), EUROPAFest (Sinaia, 2015), Festival of Sacred Music (Thiruvaiyaru, 2015), Goa Jazz Festival (Goa, 2014), IndiEarth XChange (Madras, 2014), Kasauli Rhythm & Blues Festival (Kasauli, 2014), goMAD Festival (Ooty, 2013) and MAD Festival (Ooty, 2012).
Focused on the development of contemporary improvised music in India, Mahajan also teaches music privately at his piano studio in Bangalore, and has been a returning faculty member at the Global Music Institute, Greater Noida.
All songs on Bangalore Blues have been composed and performed by Thomas and Mahajan, with Thomas having written all the lyrics. A few of the songs are either about missing Bangalore or hating it. The city tends to inspire that sort of extreme reaction in its residents. Other tunes are about specific instances and situations that Thomas found herself in over the course of her life.
1. The Morning After (3:23)
After a night with supersized gin and tonics with a girlfriend in lower Manhattan, Thomas took a cab home controlling the urge to upchuck because she'd borrowed a friend's dress for the occasion. This song is about the morning after the night before. There are subtle Indian melodic influences with a jazz treatment. The video tells the story behind the words and music.
2. Jailer (4:02)
A waltzy song that talks about a terrible experience that Thomas had years ago with a musician friend that she had trusted. She feels that rather than call out her abuser, she'd rather write songs about it.
3. Would I Lie For You? (4:23)
A funky tune in which Thomas has used a typical mridangam korvai to write lyrics to in the rap section. The Indian influence is evident, but the treatment is nu-jazz .
4. Leifmotif (5:47)
This delicate composition by Mahajan is in 7 beats for the most part. The buried origins of this song are in the Raaga Yaman, but with so many jazz substitutions, it is only felt and not heard. The lyrics are pensive and poignant, where the protagonist is anxiously waiting for her lover to return home, jumping at the slightest sound.
5. Load Shedding (4:02)
Bangalore is a city where the power just goes off at will. The government does not believe in warning residents before turning out the lights. While one learns to live with it, many things can go wrong. The song explains the sad state of affairs. Featured in the video is the young Miss Universe hopeful Shriya Srinivasan.
6. Only Illusion (4:01)
With syncopating rhythms and a changing time-feel, this is a meditative song of love and longing. The piano work is almost classical in nature.
7. Bangalore Blues (4:36)
On a snowy winter's day in New York, Thomas longed for the jacaranda trees and greenness of home. The title track of the album, the video is based on the artwork of one of the city's best-known and most-loved artists, Paul Fernandes. His vignettes of various iconic Bangalore locations such as the Bangalore Club, the Fraser Town Police Station, Cubbon Park and Ulsoor Lake create the perfect amount of nostalgia.
Radha Thomas: vocals, composition, lyrics
Aman Mahajan: piano, Fender Rhodes, composition
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