Why Bolly Jazz? What was the inspiration behind it?
Nikhil Mawkin (band director and founder), had ear fatigue with DJs playing remixed versions of Old Hindi film songs. And so, similar to approaching Realbooks and Jazz standards, Bollyjazz was born in order to use melodies but re-arrange the music as per Jazz traditions, where the musicians get to explore and improvise around jazz harmonies and rhythms.
For someone who has never heard your music, how would you describe it and draw attention?
Our music is like driving in a city with detailed routes, where musicians at points make different turns but come back together at another point. And through it all, they are having a conversation with one another about their feelings.
Who are some of the musicians you’re inspired by in your space?
While there are spectacular musicians out everywhere, we are more inspired by a sound and atmosphere rather than particular set of musicians. Mainly by Jazz Big Bands, orchestras and musicians like Duke Ellington and Count Basie.
What instruments do you guys play as a band and why did you choose these?
At the core, the band is run by Nathalie Ramirez (Flute) and Nikhil Mawkin (Guitar/Voice), which already adds uniqueness to a any jazz ensemble, considering there are not many western flute players in the city. Any good jazz act will always have a strong rhythm section with Bass and Drums and, above all, we work with horn players, mainly Trumpet, Saxophone and Trombone which brings us closer to our dream sound of a Jazz Big Band setting.
Tell us how your jam sessions look like
Our rehearsals have evolved tremendously over time, they are more systematic than just a jam session, since we work on a particular set of pieces that musicians have to read and sometimes improvise over it, but always following a particular structure. At the core, rehearsals is where we create the magic and in between get time to laugh and even have dinner afterwards.
Presently we are working on taking this project to Mexico and US as well, where we would be collaborating with musicians from there, and exploring the sound of a Big Band in some of the present repertoire and some new arrangements which we are adding to the list.