Monday, November 13, 2006

Memorabel Music - Legends Live

Memorable Music
Legends Live

Spellbinding music lovers for two pulsating, moonlit evenings on 9th and 10th February at the Kala Academy was a superb synthesis of contemporary and vintage jazz by the cream of Goan greats, says Joel D'Souza
In an exclusive debut of the world of jazz by Goan musicians, the inaugural evening took off thunderously with The Great Music Revival. Performing in their first concert together in India, were the Jazz Aliens comprising Miles Perry on the bass guitar, Giles Perry on the drums, reedman Carl Clements of Boston and keyboardist Graham Dean of Johannesburg.

The Aliens set a blistering pace with Samurai Samba, which was followed by other smoothly flowing improvisations and evergreen numbers like Invitation, Another You, All the Blues, So What, Tenor Madness, Take Five, etc. Whatever the Aliens played was wildly cheered and applauded. Giles Perry on the drums unleashed a scintillating display of stickwork, particularly in what Miles had announced as "the wildest drums solo you have ever heard". Miles Perry appeared to interpret on the guitar what his brother did on the drums. The talented sons of living legend Chris Perry left all wonderstruck.

Saxophonist Carl Clements, who performs with Hindustani maestros, blew symphonic solos on the soprano sax. Carl is a graduate of the Berkeley School of Music in Boston and the California Institute of Arts. Though influenced by the style of jazz greats like Charlie Parker and John Coltrains, Carl's tones don't sound harsh and reedy at all, but well rounded, resembling a blend of sax, oboe and flute music.

"True virtuosity warming the cockles of the heart," remarked compere Col Sylvester D'Souza. The Aliens did pump the air with rugged, romantic music in a contemporary vein. Errol Perry took the drums for one number in the rugged race. While Errol's sticks danced like fireflies, Graham Dean's fingers enacted an equally stunning show on the keyboards.

Killing me Softly was Graham's chance to play some exquisite rare effects on one hand, while Miles Perry's fingers flitted magically over the fretwork.

Miles appeared to be thrifty with his exceptional leads on the bass, though we longed to hear more of it. They played So What? by Miles Davis, after whom Miles has been named. Graham, a sound engineer to boot, took over the mike just once before they struck Tenor Madness which coaxed Chris Perry to show up. Chris thanked the crowd. He said, I spent a lot of money to get my sons qualified in music in America. Don't you think that I am a proud father? I am too old to play jazz now. I played it for 30 years." Anyway, he did play a wild number to prove that he can hold a deep breath well. A crowd puller all the way, Chris succeeded in getting the audience clapping the tempo for Take Five.

The Jazz Aliens carved an interpretive style which symbolised fine artistry, for which they received a standing ovation. They left the audience hooked on jazz and waiting eargerly for the following day.

Vintage Jazzy Joe
Joe Pereira, the jazz king of India, and his cream of Goan musicians, began the second evening entitled A Tribute to the Great Goan Legends. The 70-plus reedman's imaginative repertoire including Stardust, Conciano, Duke Ellington's Caravan, The Flight of the Raga, Dixieland Preachers, Take Five, Tambdde Roza Tuje Pole, and vocals like Moonlight in Goa, Am I Blue? and Hope my Day will come, which were rendered by Nicole D'Lima, who incidentally shared the compering with Col D'Souza. Performing with Joe were Bosco Monsorate and A Frank on the trumpets, Blasco Monsorate on the trombone, scull-capped Tony Pinto on the piano, Lester Godinho on the drums, Domnic Fernandes on the bass guitar and petite Merlyn D'Souza on the keyboards. Each of them excelled in their department. If music be so sweet, it should be like Jazzy Joe's The Flight of the Raga with strains of Hindustani music. They did swing into another number with unusual rhythm which was the sweetest and most melodious instrumental of the charged evening. Incidentally, Joe dedicated it to his music teacher Sebastian Fernandes from Verem. On this evening were feted legendary drummer Leslie Godinho from Majorda and Anthony Gonsalves, a titan in film music composition.


An Ursula Touch

Heightening the excitement was the quartet led by pianist Johnny Fernandes, playing foot-tapping instrumentals. The vocals rendered by Ursula Fernandes were strong and gutsy. Ursula took off with the vibrant number Deep Mood, composed by her father, the inimitable Chic Chocolate from Aldona, and the late Amancio D'Souza. This piece was followed by Night in Tunisia, Sister Sady, Leaves Start to Fall, Black Bird and other favourites.

Johnny Fernandes, Ursula's husband from Anjuna, reigned supreme on the keyboards. Keeping him company was Lester, the terrific percussionist who

The Aliens did pump the air with rugged, romantic music in a contemporary vein. Errol Perry took the drums for one number in then rugged race. While Errol's sticks danced like fireflies, Graham Dean's fingers enacted and equally stunning show on the keyboards"

regaled the audience with exciting drum solos, Domnic Fernandes on the bass. Cajie Alphonso, another excellent drummer, played for the number How High the Moon at which moment the moon was right overhead. Towards the end Ursula jammed up with Joe's ensemble for a far-out Dixie session. Nicole, in the glittering dress, too grabbed the mike and the two crooned to glory in a vocal duel. Right through the live performance Goa's celebrated cartoonist Mario Miranda sat transforming the Jazzy show into his inimitable caricatures. Carlos Monteiro, Goa's guitarring pride, bassist Mac Dourado, the keyboard virtuoso Xavier Pires and Remo's drummer Glen Pinto took over after the non-residents had bowed out and there was hardly any audience left. In Goa, where jazz is not a regular affair, and contemporary jazz virtually non-existent, those two evenings made possible by Fundacao Oriente, proved memorable. The conceptualisation and event management by Victor Hugo Gomes' Resonance deserves a pat on the back and so does the suave mood-setter Col Sylvester D'Souza.


Drumming Up Jazz
Joel D'Souza caught up with ace jazz drummer Giles Perry for a tete-a-tete the day after the show.
What's jazz like in the United States?
In the United States, people love jazz. People come to listen to jazz with the right perspective in mind. So you get the right people for the right take, while here (in Goa) the community comes for more of enjoyment.

How is it that Glen Perry is missing from The Jazz Aliens?
My brother Glen is making it great in pop; he is quite a celebrity. In fact, he travels with big names and performs with renowned players. We are into jazz basically because we are born to a jazz father.

Every Perry in your family is into music as if born under the same star…
All of us are into music. Yeah. Normally it doesn't happen. I think it is the love for the art. My father never wanted us to become musicians. He wanted us to be doctors or engineers, because he knew that it is very hard to become a successful and good musician.

Music must be a tough uphill task….
You are taking a risk when you take to music. You never know what can happen when you are halfway down the road. But it's the love that keeps you going and what is really important is to believe in yourself. My father always tells us: you believe in yourself, be confident and work hard; and I think that there is no substitute for this formula.

How much is Chris Perry responsible for your success?
Right from the time we learnt to hear music, we were listening to good music - to records of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and others. But when I turned seven Dad got me my first violin and started to teach me to play it. Three years later he got me a proper violin tutor maestro Micael Martins, under whom I studied for a long time. And that (violin) was one hell of an instrument. It takes all your time, patience, friends and all party time. So I did that till I was seventeen. I had to get up at 6 o'clock and practice.

You were in Bombay then…
Yes. I would see my friends go to the movies on Sundays but I had to stay home and practice. Sometimes my father would bribe me: "I will give you a hundred bucks if you practice for an hour." Why not practice then? With money I could buy me friends!

Have you played in Hindi films?
Yes. I played the third violin. Dad got me into Hindi film music. He would take me to the film studios in Bombay, to Laxmikant Pyarelal. Dad was writing music for the films at that time.

Why did you quit films?
I didn't like the scene out there. When it comes to music, you have to be fair to yourself. It's not work you are doing because somebody wants you to do it. In the studios, it was all about money and not music. There is no room to crawl in. There is too much politics in the industry. See what happened to Dad: he wrote the music for three movies - Bobby, Kabhie Kabhie and Trishul. But somebody else took the credit. And now my brother Glen is telling me that someone stole his music from the number Laila and made a Hindi version of it. You get very frustrated when somebody does a thing like that.

Why did you exchange the violin for drums both being almost poles apart?
I wanted to play the drums but my father would never get me a drum set. Drums at that time were not played seriously and so no one thought of the drums then. After my graduation every one was putting up a band and they needed drummers. With drums I started getting more friends.

What music did you study in the United States?
I studied music for a year at the Berkeley School of Music, but it was getting too expensive. So I moved to California, where I met and heard the music of great jazz exponents and took tuition from great jazz teachers. There I was also playing with different bands.

You teach music in Dubai…
Yes. From children to professionals and embassy staff come to learn music there. But in Dubai, it was like business. So I thought I had to do something and went into practice again. And so this first concert in Goa. Goa is beautiful. It's like a paradise. Last night I wanted to talk to the people but my voice was hoarse as if I had been singing.

Do you remember Mhoje Maim which you and Miles recorded when you were small?
Oh yes. If you were just to remind us last night, we would have loved to play that number. Because when the audience shouted for Goan music, we could not think of anything to play.

Ambaulim's New Church

Ambaulim's New Church
It was like a dream come true for the Catholic community of Ambaulim in Quepem; when recently a spacious new church building was consecrated to Our Lady of Lourdes. With the small chapel elevated to the status of a church in 1956 unable to accommodate Ambaulim's steadily increasing flock of faithful, the present parish priest Fr Luis Coutinho took upon himself to concretise the plans envisioned by the former vicar Fr Jose Aureliano Pires. With the whole-hearted co-operation and support of the church committee and parishioners who laboured voluntarily in the construction work, the edifice was completed in two years.

Alfred Rose - The King of Melody

The King of Melody
In the world of Tiatr and Konkani music, there's no one quite like Alfred Rose, says Isidore Dantas, in a profile of the singing star.

Remember, the singer with a Panama hat on his head and a magic wand in his hand delivering the opening song for tiatrs in English-Konkani in the '60s? He is none other than Alfred Rose who has earned the sobriquets of Goa's Melody King", The Man with the Golden Voice" (courtesy His Master's Voice Recording Company), Konkani Ambassador", International Superstar". To the Goans he is The Living Legend of Konkani Music".

Rosario Alfred Fernandes - his real name, was born in the picturesque village of Calvim, Aldona, on 5 August 1932. He is the proud son of the illustrious character-actor of yore, Ambrose Fernandes (Ambrose was named AMB Rose by the Karachi Jesuits). This actor, who has six decades of popularity to his credit was christened Junior Rose by the versatile Konkani tiatrist C Alvares, because he was the youngest among the actors during his debut in Konkani tiatr way back in 1943. Rose, who has made his village proud by carving a niche among the Goans in the field of music, later changed his name to Alfred Rose in 1952.

He was first seen in Miss Ida's (Jose Mendes) drama where he sang the solo Kiteak jiv khatai? The well known konkani dramatist JP Souzalin, known for his plays on religious themes, introduced Alfred in his Poilea Cheddeachem Baltim staged at the Princess Theatre, Bhangwadi, Dhobitalao, Mumbai, a nursery of Konkani drama. He is one of the few educated tiatrists, having completed the CAIIB (Banking professional examination) after passing the SSC Examination. He had brief stints with National Overseas & Grindlays Bank Ltd and Larsen & Toubro. He had also served at Citi Bank in the Gulf in the year 1970.

There was a time when tiatrs were looked down on by the hoi-polloi because of the base fare they presented. Alfred resurrected the tiatr scene by composing and rendering educative and decent presentations. His first drama Hench tem Karann was staged in 1956.

Being the cynosure of numerous ardent fans, he has many firsts to his credit. Alfred was the first to stage a Konkani tiatr at Birla Matoshri Hall, Dhobitalao, Mumbai. He has the distinction of publishing fourteen song books containing lyrics of the numerous songs he has cut on disc. His novel Vingans Monte Cristochem, based on the famous novel of Alexander Dumas, has highlighted the role of our very own father of hypnotism - Abade Faria. His novels include Munis vo Devchar, which is based on his drama by the same title. The only person to my knowledge to publish comics in Konkani is Alfred Rose. The book is entitled Zomnintli Bhirant. He introduced the concept of non-stop drama in Konkani with his presentation of Director Saib in 1961, which included twenty seven songs relevant to the story of the drama, making its presentation look like a film. For this he bagged the Bombay Mayor's Medal. He was the first to compose a song on Mother Teresa way back in 1981, which features in his Audio Cassette Album No 2. He also has the distinction of presenting the first non-stop Rock Musical Show with sound track on stage, which no singer English or Konkani has done. The audience remembers with affection the tribute paid by him in song on the stage to the late tiatrist Souza Ferrao during the latter's lifetime accompanying him. Flowers was the first song rendered by a tiatrist in English composed and sung by him. He was the first tiatrist to record an English song A Date with Daisy on disc.

This ace musician has provided the musical score to the Konkani film Boglantt, starring Prem Kumar with his better-half Rita Rose - herself a very good singer. He has performed in the Konkani film Amchem Noxib which has the English song I Lost my Heart to You as his composition. The Hindi film Love in Goa has music composed by him. He was the leader of the band Rosebuds in the '50s. Alfred, who is at ease with the violin and guitar, has his songs sung by eminent singers Mahendra Kapoor, Shailendra Singh and Krishna Kalle.

The thirteen tiatrs to his credit include Nirmon vo Formonn, Lakhpoti Novro, Dotor-Advogad, Natalanchi Bhett, Bhangaracho Hoti, Angounnechi Hokol, Pessaumkar… the last being Somestancho Kumpar. He has been a writer of repute and has contributed regularly to the now defunct Konkani weeklies published from Mumbai, Soth-Uloi and Cine Times.

Among the awards and plaudits earned by him, mention must be made of the Cross International Award, Mumbai. Mangalore's Mandd Sobhann has bestowed on him the title of Sangitsagar. He has also been honoured with a gold medal in the Gulf for this composition of the song Kotta Kuwait based on the 1990 Kuwait war. An audio cassette by Video World Production entitled Bhangaracho Tallo is a tribute to this versatile artist.

Besides his performance in India, he has performed abroad in Africa (1960), Germany, France, Canada, the UK and the Gulf, to the immense satisfaction of the audience. Alfred has also been featured on All India Radio and Doordarshan.Alfred had a great desire to perform internationally and had successfully tested for BBC and ATV, but during those days Goans were called Portuguese and considered aliens because of which he had difficulty in staying abroad and therefore he had to give up the idea.

The epitome of popular songs, this gifted clairvoyant has to his credit the unforgettable Tin Molladik Hatiaram namely sui, sut, kator - the three important tools of the tailors; Pai, which desribes the goodness of the father; Goenkar vo Mungllurkar, Ami sogle Konknne, depicting unity of the Konkani-speaking areas; Saddi, which cleverly brings out the virtues of the sari; Ixtt, personifying the real friend; Dev Nidonk Na, which reminds us of the watchful eye of the Almighty on us; Kalchi Koddi, which brings nostalgia of the curry to be preserved for posterity and Poilea Cheddeamchem baltim, which teaches us to sing litany in Konkani which hitherto was sung in Latin and Portuguese without understanding its contents. Pain Korun na tem has contributed in the moulding of an ordinary Goan into an industrialist.

Besides tiatrs, Alfred has performed six musical shows, composed and sung five thousand songs out of which fifteen hundred are in English in his soprano voice, has 400 extended and long playing records and 39 audio cassettes. His album Londonacho Mog has been recorded in London.

Among his English-Konkani songs, mention must be made of Mandovi, Lighthouse, A date with Daisy, Luiza the Bombshell, Viva la Goa. His songs in Hindu style include Bamnali Pori, Savkaralo Por, Chander Vati, Ago mhoje Sundorea, Patovantli Kunvor, Goreta gheun gori…

According to him, Konkani dramas do have a future and primarily requires people who know the language to encourage it by patronising the same rather than pay lip sympathy. He laments that tiatrs have stopped not because of the disunity among the tiatrists but because of the audience who find it costly. The fare is unable to match the increasing production costs and is therefore not a paying proposition for the tiatrists. Alfred Rose has woven a rich tapestry of composition in the woof and warp of Konkani music and therefore rightly deserves a befitting recognition from the government.