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Gig Review: The John di Martino Quartet, Mumbai

The pianist performed alongside cornet player Warren Vache, upright bassist Neil Miner and drummer Saurav Ghosh

Sunil Sampat Nov 30, 2018

(From left) John Di Martino, Warren Vache, Neil Miner and Saurav Ghosh. Photo: Courtesy of Jazz Addicts

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Sometimes a fine music concert is lost on a city for odd reasons. The jazz performance by New York-based quartet led by pianist John di Martino at Balgandharva Rang Mandir in Mumbai earlier this week is a case in point. It was a very high quality show, as good as one can expect to hear anywhere in the world, but the attendance was sparse and several jazz enthusiasts in the city missed out. As the emcee noted, “Jazz is meant for special people.”

Organized by promoters Jazz Addicts for their series Jus’ Jazz, the quartet consisted of di Martino, Warren Vache on cornet, Neil Miner on upright bass and Saurav Ghosh on drums. It was a tight group held together by di Martino, whose rhythmic improvisations were superb. Miner on the bass and Ghosh on drums provided firm support. The Mumbai-based drummer excelled and is clearly made for greater challenges in the future.

But the star of the evening was clearly the solidly built Vache, who played cornet on this occasion although he is proficient on the trumpet and flugelhorn too. Vache’s sound was clear, powerful and crisp but he never forsakes melody. He was equally effective on ballads and swing. The horn player played a sensitive solo on Billy Strayhorn’s “Isfahan” and brought the house down on “Take the ‘A’ Train,” also by the same composer.

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Vache has some historical significance in modern jazz. He, along with American trumpeter Wynton Marsalis were responsible for leading the movement to restore jazz to it’s roots of swing and bop after the experiments with hybrid electronic sounds and fusion had taken jazz off on a tangent.  As for di Martino, he is no stranger to India. The pianist has toured twice before, once with saxophonist Houston Person in 2012 and then again with his own trio the following year.

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