BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
As International Jazz Day is celebrated today, despite producing some great jazz musicians in India, Goa has through the years been unable to create an ecosystem for musicians to flourish in their own state.
Thus, the migration of jazz musicians, principally to Mumbai and other states of the country, has continued.
Braz Gonsalves, Chris Perry, Chic Chocolate, the Monserrate Brothers and Alvito da Costa are just some Goans who took musical improvisation to heights beyond the Himalayas.
Jazz is about setting your creative self free with music, and, as a state, Goa gave jazz musicians the room to freely explore their inner creativity.
“Radio Serenades and Louis and his Melodians were the two jazz bands of the early seventies. There were people who listened to jazz music, but few jazz musicians could financially sustain themselves in Goa because there was no market then. Though, the situation is improving now,” says Dr Fernando Colaco, who apart from being a great cardiologist is known for his jazz swings in the evening.
“As a youngster, I used to go to study jazz with Chris Perry. I remember him giving us a knock on our heads during class. But, who really pushed me to excel was my friend Dr Rod, who, according to me, did a lot to popularise jazz music when he was alive,” reminiscences Dr Colaco.
If Chic Chocolate, Braz Gonsalves and the like took jazz to great heights in the early years, jazz in Goa saw musicians like the late Carlos Monteiro, Victor Shreeves, Lester Godinho, Mac Dourado, Emiliano De Cruz, Darryl Rodrigues and Collin D’Cruz stick to improvisation of musical chords.
“Goa had musicians that commanded the jazz scene, but Goa as a state never provided jazz musicians with an opening to play and survive here. The best jazz musicians of India were from Goa, but all had to live outside to make a name for themselves,” says Alu Gomes Periera, head honcho of TCI which extended the Jazz Yatra brand to Goa for three years in the eighties.
“We had the Jazz Yatra for three years in Goa, and despite the tickets being priced at Rs 10, hardly anyone turned up. It was very discouraging then,” recollects Alu.
“There are people from Goa who like to listen to jazz, but it is difficult to network in Goa as a jazz musician. One needs to go out of the state to survive and that is why I have been out for a major part after having started in Goa,” disclosed Daryl Rodrigues, who started in Goa and shifted out of the state after marrying the daughter of Braz Gonsalves.
Braz Gonsalves, who has returned to Goa, now watches his grandson Jarryd play the saxophone.
“I live in Mumbai because the city has a lot to offer musicians, but I come to Goa for jam-ups. I have a band of my own, but I jam up often,” discloses Jarryd, who at 28 looks to continue playing from where grandfather Braz stopped.
“The jazz scene has improved a lot after the pandemic. We now have foreign jazz musicians staying and performing in Goa, and there are groups of musicians playing in restaurants and hotels in the North and South. Things are better but definitely not reached the best,” opined Jarryd, who will be performing at Hideaway in Vagator, Goa, on International Jazz Day.
Braz Gonsalves, who is not in the best of health, will be attending the International Jazz Day festival in Vagator to listen to his grandson play. The beauty of jazz is that it transcends all cultures.
We will, therefore, see foreign jazz musicians jamming with Goans in a few places in Goa to commemorate International Jazz Day.