Dear friends,

I want to share with you such a great experience of my recent trip to India.

It all started with a concert at the 6th international Jazz Festival of New Delhi where I got the chance to meet with musicians I never met before, very usual in musicians job, and the truth is, it makes it fun that way too. The adventure of the unexpected.

The band was put together by Clint Valladares from Berklee College of Music, in conjunction with the U.S Dept of State through its culture ambassadors program.

Singer Patricia Williamson and my self, joined saxophonist Donald Harrison and his trio for three concerts between New Delhi and Chandigarh. Drummer Daryl Staves and Bassist Max Moran both alumni of Berklee and natives from New Orleans.
It was such a pleasure to work with this two young players, besides their talent, they show their eagerness to learn and extend into territory “musically” they don’t usually play nor are expose too often, and that is a great quality to have for any musician.
It made me think about when old school jazz musicians used to test out the ability of other fellow musicians by calling in the spot a tune of Jazz repertoire, aka Jazz Standards, and count the tempo in a “frenetic” super fast speed, just to prove if the musician, been “examined” could hang on and be able to survive. I always saw this custom more as a Roman’s circus than service to the music. And even though, once in a while, I still play with many musicians raised up on this tradition , in my opinion, it is outdated. I believe 21st century musician’s abilities should be measured not so much for how fast they can play any given tune, but rather by their ability and attitude to be “open minded & open ears” to blend into different types of music forms, rhythms and textures from around the world.

And it is exactly what I found in these two young musicians Daryl (drums) and Max (bass) & my colleague Patrice Williamson (voice), who would always made clear in each of the performances that she is first a “musician” and then a singer. That a great quality all singer would like to have and it made so much fun and musical this short tour to India

Thanks to Clint Valladares from the “Berklee India Exchange program”, for putting this band together and giving me the opportunity to know such a great country and experience the amazing hospitality of its people. Also, my gratitude to every one at the Indian American Cultural Exchange and the American Embassy in India who organized all the performances.

But, I couldn’t bare to come all the way to India without getting a little taste of what South India has to offer culturally. So, after concluding our performances agenda in New Delhi and Candigargh, I felt the urge to go and have a bit, or I should say a beat or two of South India’s rich culture.

So, under many different musician’s suggestions, including my friend Jamey Haddad, I decided to go to Chennai (former Madras), he already knew some people there. He introduced me with a great musician and no doubt, the best host any visitor could ever wish to have in Chennai: Srinivas Krishnan. He is definitely a true cultural ambassador of Chennai.

Thanks to Srinivas I was able to experiences from the small hidden joints of popular food, which only locals would go, to the more fancy S.Indian cuisine, visit to temples, tradicional Indian music schools, introduced me to great musicians.
Arranged a a recording music session at A.R. Rahman’s music school, where I met with a group of young talented female singers students who had put together a beautiful trad raga for me to play a piano track on it and recorder it as an experiment with MP&E students from there.

So much more experiences from that trip, but much stories to share coming up in the future…..

Taj Mahal

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