Saxophonist Rhys Sebastian Revisits Chick Corea, Beethoven and OP Nayyar All At One Gig
The Mumbai musician will team up with artists such as Ravi Chary, Merlin D’souza and Gino Banks at the ‘Rhyme & Rhythm’ concert to be held this month
Although this month looks packed with a host of rock and metal gigs across Mumbai, if you love the lushness of 1920s’ jazz or good old Bollywood music, you’ve got to head to ‘Rhyme & Rhythm’, a concert helmed by Mumbai-based saxophonist Rhys Sebastian, to be held at the NCPA on February 20th.
Now it requires some serious amount of artistry to approach the music of icons like American jazz pianist Chick Corea, Hindi music composers Shankar-Jaikishan and OP Nayyar as well as that of Western classical god Beethoven and present it all at one single concert. But to add your stamp of originality to their celebrated pieces demands another level of ingenuity. But Sebastian has taken on the task and is ready with his act. Talking about how the idea of revisiting the works of a motley mix of music icons came about, he says, “I’d done a workshop at the NCPA some time ago and was approached again for a concert. Since I don’t have a lot of original material, I decided to pick some known music and present it unconventionally.”
Sebastian will be joined on stage by seasoned performers like pianist Merlin Dsouza, singers Vivienne Pocha and Asif Ali Beg, trumpeter Kishore Sodha and sitarist Ravi Chary, among others. The all-star gig will also feature indie artist-turned-Bollywood singer Shalmali Kholgade, who has performed with Sebastian on a number of occasions in the past. The band also includes drummer Gino Banks, bassist Saurabh Suman, guitarist Vinay Lobo, keyboardist Tala Faral and trombone player Ramon Ibrahim. Together, the musicians will present some interesting ‘mash-up’ of styles. Corea’s jazz composition “Spain” will feature Chary’s mellifluous sitar even as the band will whip up a Charleston version of the “Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo”, the popular twist song composed by Nayyar from 1958 film Howrah Bridge. “This song has a special story to it and is very special because of it,” says Sebastian. Turns out, the saxophonist’s granddad, the Goan musician Sebastian D’Souza had arranged the original composition. A close aide with composers like Shankar-Jaikishan and Nayyar, he was known for marrying Indian melodies with Western rhythms in the songs that featured the movies of the Fifties and Sixties such as Awara , Madhumati  and An Evening in Paris .
Besides classics, Sebastian and his band will also play contemporary Bollywood material. “We are looking at a few songs by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and AR Rahman. The idea is to make the audience move with us,” says Sebastian, who has been a regular at Mumbai’s independent and commercial music circuits and is counted as one of the country’s brightest young brass players. But despite being a crowd-puller on stage, Sebastain confesses he is never easy on himself. “I am critical of myself in trying to do too much. But I’m happy to be supported by a wonderful group of musicians,” says the musician.
‘Rhyme and Rhythm’will be held on February 20th at Tata Theater, NCPA. Book tickets here.