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Concert Review: Igor Butman Quartet at NCPA

The Russian jazz band enthralled the audience with a flawless set comprising jazz standards, folk songs as well as a medley of Bollywood hits

Sunil Sampat Oct 07, 2015
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Photo Credits: NCPA


Jazz is American by birth but now is a universal sound. It is free-spirited and, fortunately not a respecter of boundaries.

The NCPA witnessed this free-spirited phenomenon when a Russian jazz quartet regaled a full house to a superb jazz experience. The tenor saxophonist Igor Butman-led jazz band played an evening of high-caliber jazz. Pianist/vocalist Oleg Akkuratov, Sergey Korchagin on double bass and Eduardo Zizak on drums made up this quartet. It was a well-balanced band and the four individuals made a tight sounding quartet of seamless teamwork. Butman is no stranger to Mumbai jazz audiences; he has played here on three previous occasions in recent years, and the full house was testimony to his popularity. In fact, he had brought a 16-piece big band to the same venue last year to an overflowing NCPA Tata Theatre, several encores and a standing ovation. Jazz Addicts is the group responsible for bringing this towering Russian tenor man on both occasions. Mumbai jazz audiences will certainly be thankful to them. The set opened with a latin tinted “I’ll Remember April” in an arrangement reminiscent of the Clifford Brown-Max Roach classic. Butman was at his fluent best and the tone was set for an exciting concert. Young Oleg Akkuratov, inspired by the great Ray Charles, sang and played on the famous “Georgia on My Mind” and carried on with a Russian folk song which, naturally developed into a swinging 4/4 jazz piece.

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The variety and range of the band’s repertoire for the evening was something else! Akkuratov, also a trained classical pianist, surprisingly played a Chopin piece, followed by the band doing one by soul man James Brown ”“ “I Got You! They then played “Those Were the Days”, an old favourite not associated with jazz and a medley of Bollywood songs, vocalized by Akkuratov and with the help of a young local boy singing, “Mera Joota Hai Japaani”. “Take Five” and “Take the A Train” were in the mix of the evening’s performance, ensuring that everybody heard something they liked. The standard was uniformly high and there was no weak link in the band throughout the evening. In the course of the set, Akkuratov had vocalized the Jimmy Van Heusen classic, “It Could Happen to You” in Chet Baker style. This has also been sung by Frank Sinatra, who, by the, way would have turned 100 in December. I can hear Sinatra adding to his song,”My Way” with the lyrics, “When I turned 100, it was a very good year for Russian jazz in far Bombay”! That would be an apt comment for this flawless jazz concert.

(The band will be playing three concerts in Delhi as well.)

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