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Exploring jazz in Dhaka

  • Published at 09:57 pm August 19th, 2018
Photo from Jazz Review
From left, Imran Ahmed, Mohaimin Karim, Arjo Sreshtho and their guest performer Hasin Aryan mesmerized Lounge Comida last Firday

The faster pieces will make you frenetic for dance, while the softer pieces will leave you lost in your thoughts

Dhaka’s arts and culture scene is truly becoming more and more worth experiencing now. Music in Bangladesh has always been rich with folk, metal, progressive metal and myriad of other genres. And now, there is jazz. I enjoyed a soulful evening of jazz last Friday at Lounge Comida, courtesy of The Imran Ahmed Trio, at Gulshan. The event was titled “Explorations in Jazz: Part II,” which made me wonder, when was the first part held and why wasn’t I part of it.

Description of the ambience is essential while describing a jazz experience. Lounge Comida is not a small place, but it was pretty packed as the Trio drew large crowds. I found the performers already playing a really beautiful tune on the small stage when I got in around 6:30pm. I was more impressed when I found out that it was their sound check. The many rows of chairs, special tables and other sitting arrangements in the premises were soon occupied by the jazz enthusiasts, while I managed to grab a seat in front of the stage.

The Imran Ahmed Trio started the program a little late than they were scheduled. But, the audience went pin-drop silent as soon as they began playing their first piece, titled “Three,” filling the air with magical and soft melodies. None of the titles of the track that I will mention here are the official ones, but are used by the Trio to acknowledge them. “Three” was melodious. The next piece, however, was a more energetic ballad. They did not say the title, but mentioned that it was inspired by some Brazilian tunes. Then they played “Rumba” with a gradual rise in tempo.

There were some covers such as famous flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia “Zyriad,” and a well known Brazillian Jazz standard "Tico Tico." There was also a rendition of “Django's Waltz," originally by Django Reinhardt. “Bulerias” is one of their own original tracks, that was played along with the covers.

But most memorable for me was their cover of famous jazz pianist Chick Corea’s “Spain,” which was the first song they played after the interval. I spoke to Mohaimin Karim, the bassist of the Trio, later and was able to learn the titles of the pieces they had played.

For me, their show was all about the jazz of dance, a sentiment expressed by many others who were present. Asked why their tunes inspire such groove, Mohaimin said they were fusing Brazilian music with jazz. The faster pieces will make you frenetic for dance, while the softer pieces will leave you lost in your thoughts. Most of the time, I found myself staring at the ceiling, imagining my favorite visuals that goes well with each piece.

I was very pleased with the Imran Ahmed Trio’s show. There are not many places in Dhaka, let alone Bangladesh, where people can dance together to some groovy music like jazz without being judged. But once we have that, I think the second most unlivable city in the world will be more tolerable. I am just grateful to Imran Ahmed, Mohaimin Karim, Arjo Sreshtho and their guest performer Hasin, for their attempt to make our city more tolerable.

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