The big band theory

The experience that was so incredibly felt by each member of the band only grew upon them, enabling the band to never stop performing.

Haven’t we always wondered about and wished to spot a UFO in the night sky amongst those twinkling stars while we star gazed, forming those animal patterns with our tiny hands as children learning about the universe? Well, a UFO in the sky might have remained a far-fetched dream for most of us but seventeen-years ago, a musical UFO did unleash itself out to the world, when a group of passionate musicians bumped into each other and there was a ‘Big Bang!’ and this one was loud enough for the world to listen.

Four musicians hailing from absolutely different worlds of music or ‘planets’ as they would like to call it encountered each other in the culturally vibrant streets of France in 2001 and ‘Nojazz’ was born.

It did not take it too long for the band to mingle along and come up with their first performance in the same year as they met inside a jazz club in France. The experience that was so incredibly felt by each member of the band only grew upon them, enabling the band to never stop performing. So much so that today they have performed in more than 50 countries, travelling globally to celebrate music and life. Just six months after their first performance in 2001, the band found them in New York recording their first album in 2002 and the story has struck a new beautiful note every time

As they land in India to perform for the fourth time, the electrified band is busy with gigs prior to their performance. Philippe Balatier, the keyboard player of the band manages to step aside from all the French chirping and allows us some insight into the journey of this not so jazzy group of musicians. “For us music has always been about the intensity that it spreads and India is a very exciting place to be. The people are always jumping, smiling, laughing; there’s so much of good energy that it’s a delight for any performer.”

Nojazz as a band has only known to develop around them multiple complicities since they came together. The band’s origin comes from irreverence to rules and barriers of genre. A common interest in jazz held these wanderers together as they discussed jazz ideas and experimented with songs. Soon they realised how they were engaged in mixing jazz with hip-hop or electronic music or drum and bass. They fused pop ideas, making them more lyrical but each time they discussed how it was “not jazz”. But that didn’t wasn’t a disappointment for any of them, it was rather a sense of liberty to figure out what works for them in their unique manner and continuing their mix of all things, ‘No Jazz’ found its sound.

While he tries hard to give me satisfying answers in English, he shares, “Over fifteen years since we started, we are probably not the only ones doing this now but when we started it was different and new and people enjoyed it all the more. Now there are more technologies and you can do so much but we are delighted that people are still embracing us and we are still able to go around with our music.”

Phillipe, who is hesitant to reveal he is 52-years-old, says the band wanted to travel through music, tell stories, and explore the various cultures from across the world as they met and interacted new people. The band that has grown to become a family is currently touring for their latest album ‘Soul Stimulation’; which is the sixth album of the band. Even at this age and so many years into this journey, the band has not stopped experimenting. ‘Soul Stimulation’ is their first album with a singer, different from the earlier ones that have been only with instruments, says Phillipe who has Michael Jackson, James Brown and Charlie Parker at the top of his playlist.

Philippe Balatier, the beat maker with his keyboard; Frederic Lopez with his drums, Philippe Sellam with his saxo and Jeffrey, the vocalist are thrilled, every time they take on the stage and “the audience is taken away from their worldly botheration and transported into a relieving trance”.

What: NoJazz (France) ‘Soul Stimulation’ album tour India
When: Feb 17, 9 pm
Where: BFlat, #776, 100 Feet Road, Indiranagar

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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