The 16th edition of Nepal’s first and only jazz festival Surya Nepal Jazzmandu 2018 began on 1 November with a free concert for school children at Alliance Française, Jhamsikhel. The rhythm and instruments may have been unfamiliar, but the students enjoyed the lively music, dancing to the beat – proving jazz is indeed universal.
They sang along and whistled to international music, from Brazilian beats to European melodies, as musicians interacted with them. The day ended with a performance by Cadenza, the group which first brought Jazzmandu to Nepal, at their home base Jazz Upstairs.
The following day had jazz gigs at various venues around town. Adrien Brandeis performed piano-led soulful melodies at Manny’s Eatery & Tapas Bar, while Dave Feusi and The Groove Gang presented groove jazz, building their rhythms around saxophones. At Jazz Upstairs, Cynthia Abraham’s husky voice and Eduardo Mendonca’s Brazilian bass gelled well to wow the audiences. Nick’s Cousins presented jazz with a punch of rock at House of Music, a show geared at audiences who enjoy exploratory jazz.
The next day was for large stages and group revelries. Free shuttle buses departed to Gokarna Forest resort where musicians wowed crowds at the edge of the forest on 3 November. True to Jazzmandu’s goals, the day showcased not just international artists, but also gave them something to take back and learn about Nepali music, as international artists jammed with a team of sarangi players from Nepal.
Kathmandu, and all that jazz …, Sewa Bhattarai
Jazz it up in 'Mandu, Sahina Shrestha
On 5 November, the day Nepal worshipped crows, audiences got a South American flavour of jazz, with ‘Sounds of Latin Jazz’ at Dhokaima Cafe. The exuberant audience enjoyed the loud and vibrant music with enthusiastic applause.
Students of jazz were able to interact with visiting musicians at the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory, where vocal and instrumental workshops were held. Like the concert for schoolchildren, this event was also free but with limited seating.
“One of Jazzmandu’s main concerns is promoting music education and cross-cultural understanding of music,” says organiser Samir Chettri, also a member of Cadenza. “We have always made these opportunities accessible to those who are interested, and we hope to develop an appreciation for international styles of music through these programmes.”
Kantipur Temple House saw true jazz style fusion as Cynthia Abraham and Maria Fajardo sang soulfully to the tunes of Rabin Lal Shrestha’s tabla, and other eastern classical instruments. An attentive crowd quietly savoured jazz becoming more vibrant with the infusion of eastern classical music.
Jazzmandu bid adieu to its 16th year with a finale timed for Dog Day on 6 November at the Yak & Yeti. The week-long extravaganza ended with all the performers coming together for a rousing evening of entertainment. Like every year, Jazzmandu entertained audiences while raising the bar for contemporary music in Nepal.
Fuel up on jazz, Madeline Zutt
Enriching-and exclusive?, Rubeena D Shrestha