Whatta Drumvaganza!

THE stage at St Andrew’s Auditorium, Bandra, was crammed with snare drums, timbales, bongos, congadrums, tom-toms, shakers, djembes, a solitary tabla and a thousand cymbals. In the audience, a youngster quipped, “Where’s the place for the musicians?”

Now in its fourth year, Mumbai Drum Day attracted a packed hall on Friday, January 18. For three hours without an interval, the crowd witnessed a variety of drumming styles ranging from jazz and Latino to Hindi film music and Indipop. But though celebrities like tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain, jazz keyboardist Louiz Banks and drummer Ranjit Barot were present, one wished there were more musicians in the hall.

The annual event is the brainchild of drummer Gino Banks, son of Louiz Banks. His idea is to get a mix of known and unknown musicians from across the country, and at times from abroad. There were no foreign luminaries this time, but the nine who performed kept the crowd asking for more.

Interestingly, R D Burman’s song ‘O Maria’ from Saagar was played at the beginning. It was actually a teaser to what was to follow, as veteran drummer Franco Vaz played snippets from hits by the legendary music director, whom he had consistently accompanied. Star performer Sivamani, who played later, felicitated him.

Bengaluru-based Jeoraj Stanly George and Joshua Grant from Delhi did tight sets after which the latter was joined by Gino Banks and Cassy Lobo on an energetic Santanaesque set. The mood changed when Lobo played well-known 1990s Indipop tracks against backtracks. His set list included ‘Pal’ by KK, ‘Krishna’ and ‘The Way We Do It’ by the Colonial Cousins, ‘Dooba Dooba’ and ‘Boondein’ by Silk Route, and ‘Tere Bin Sanu Soniye’ by Rabbi Shergill. For those into that genre, it was sheer nostalgia. Some didn’t identify with the change.

Drummer Lindsay D’Mello and percussionist T2, who were once part of the group Bombay Black, showed some fantastic coordination, after which Hungary-born Aron Nyiro of Mumbai’s True School Of Music did a supple stretch set to a jazz background. Sadly, many in the audience took a break at this point as the show was touching two hours.

Everybody returned for the final solo act Sivamani, who dazzled with his trademark showmanship and mastery over various instruments. Whether he used sticks or his hands, he was perfect. And he didn’t get his suitcase to bang on this time.

All the musicians got together for the finale, which brimmed with sheer energy. Unlike most concert climaxes, where musicians do solo parts in turns, all of them just played together simultaneously, bringing the evening to a heady and euphoric end.

Though Gino Banks accompanied different musicians, one wished he had done a solo set himself. Maybe it was the time factor, though the evening otherwise flowed smoothly.

Over the past three years, Mumbai Drum Day has attracted popular artistes like Barot, Taufiq Qureshi, Jai Row Kavi, Kurt Peters, Gary Husband and Pete Lockett, besides prodigies Anurag Saha, Lydian Nadhaswaram and Steven Samuel Devassy. Along with the International Jazz Day and Piano Day, both curated by Louiz Banks, it has become one of the prestigious theme-based events in the city’s live calendar.

In the latest drumvaganza, one was delighted to see a large number of children in the audience. Hopefully, some of them will get attracted to the art and take to the drums.

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