Sachal Jazz Orchestra
Drawing on influences from Lahore to New York, the Ensemble presents innovative jazz and bossa nova standards from their recent album that has captured musical imaginations with a flood of internet hits. Their fresh re-working of Dave Brubeck’s iconic Take Five prompted the jazz legend to exclaim that “this is the most interesting and different recording of Take Five that I have ever heard.”
Other innovative interpretations include Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ and Dave Grusin’s ‘Mountain Dance’, the latter highlighting some incredible sitar playing. In the reworked ‘Misty’, composed by Erroll Garner, the sitar and tabla supply the melody lines layered on a lush rhythmic foundation provided by the traditional clay pot, ghungroos (ankle-bells), triangle, and tambourine. Blended with these south Asian instruments are sweeping classical violins and bursts of western drum, guitar and bass to create a scintillating hybrid, a reminder that the boundaries of jazz remain hard to define.
The inspiration behind the Sachal Jazz Ensemble and a wider Sachal project is London- based businessman-turned-studio boss Izzat Majeed. Working with consultants from London’s Abbey Road studios, he set up state-of-the-art studios in Lahore, rescued Pakistani musicians from poverty and brought them together to make music. The revival has prompted comparisons with the Buena Vista Social Club’s rediscovery of a lost generation of Cuban musicians.
Majeed’s wider goal is to rub fresh magic into Lahore’s musical traditions, once a sub- continental cultural hub. Majeed says Pakistan’s classical music scene was decimated in the 1980s when the dictator General Zia-ul-Haq, following an austere Islamic line, crushed the local film industry. Hundreds of musicians, employed to record film scores, lost their jobs and went on to ply less lyrical trades: a cellist ran a tea stall; a violinist sold vegetables from his bicycle; others sold clothes or electrical parts. Under a cloud of growing conservatism, some Sachal musicians said they dared not practise at home, fearing they could offend pious neighbours. “There was a cultural impasse in Pakistan,” says Majeed. “After the coup of Zia-ul Haq, our society and culture was transformed into something dark. The film industry died, television was taken over by primitive authoritarian entities, and our great musicians were left without patronage. Zia’s version of culture raped us of the rich musical history that we had.” Majeed, who grew up listening to jazz greats like Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong in Lahore, says there are similarities between the improvisational aspects of classical music from the sub-continent and Jazz. “Take Five’s rhythmic structure and time scale is pretty close to our kind of music,” Majeed says. “The concept of free period — remaining within the melody structure and time scale — is something our musicians love. Take Five has done so well because it was something new and well-played.”
Single: Take Five - sm005
Single: Desafinado - sm012
Album: Sachal Jazz - Interpretations of Jazz Standards and Bossa Nova - sm019
Sachal Jazz Orchestra Drawing on influences from Lahore to New York, the Ensemble presents innovative jazz and bossa nova standards from their recent album that has captured musical imaginations with a flood of internet hits. Their fresh re-working of Dave Brubeck’s iconic Take Five prompted the jazz legend to exclaim that “this is the most interesting and different recording of ... more
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