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Concert Review: Igor Butman

The jazz virtuoso wowed Mumbai with his multilingual, genre-bending set

Sunil Sampat Mar 27, 2018

Igor Butman during his performance at Tata Theatre, NCPA. Photo: Narendra Dangiya

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International jazz artist Igor Butman, notionally from Russia but plays a lot in the U.S. and Europe, roared back into Mumbai with a powerful jazz sextet and brought the house down at the Tata Theatre of the NCPA on March 22nd.

Butman has returned one more time to India, this band was presented in Mumbai in collaboration with the NCPA with Jazz Addicts. However, there is nothing redundant about the man, his music or the high quality entertainment he provides. The band was a classic jazz sextet with Butman on tenor sax, Oleg Accurotov on piano and vocals, Sergei on upright bass, Yvgeny on acoustic guitar, Eduard Zizak on drums and the exotic part Caribbean part Russian Fantine Prituola singing in several languages –English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and French at last count and in several different attired through the evening — to complete the group.

Butman and his long standing associate, drummer Zizak seem to be constants in the various Igor Butman band combinations we have seen in Mumbai over the last few years. Under this umbrella, Butman includes and encourages talented youngsters to work in his band and encourages them fully.

This NCPA concert seemed to actually be two concerts rolled into one. In the first, the band minus the vocalist played several challenging jazz pieces wherein the young soloists were given ample scope to parade their talents. The very young looking Yvgeny on guitar was a revelation with his clean, melodic licks which were given a lot of scope by Butman. Likewise, the young bass player Sergei also sounded seasoned and very competent and was also given opportunities to play a few solos. Add to this mix the immensely talented pianist (and vocalist) Accurotov and you have a jazz band right up there with the very best. This part of the concert must have pleased the jazz fans in the audience.

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The other half of the program which featured Fantine (pronounced Fantini) included an array of songs which would be known to most of the audience. Thus “A Tisket A Tasket,” “Those Were The Days,” “Sunny Side Of The Street,” “Besame Mucho” — sung in Spanish, “Cry Me A River” and the very popular “Unforgettable” from Nat King Cole and sung as a duet with Accurotov , ala Nat and Natalie Cole’s version, all had a positive effect on the NCPA full house. Accurotov singing a couple of Bollywood numbers (“Ye Dosti,” “Mera Joota Hai Japanee” etc) added to audience approval.

Butman knows how to have at least an Indian audiences eating out of his hands. The standing ovation from the happy crowd was a foregone conclusion!

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