Stop for the Chicago Jazz Quartet
on channel 11, Chang Mai
is more about watching and enjoying the performance, rather
than only listening,' says Benjamin Lewis of The Chicago Jazz
Quartet in Dhaka, the last stop of their East Asia tour.
four Jazz musicians, Benjamin Lewis, Lorin Cohen, Michael
Raynor and Matt Lewis began the Jazz Ambassador Tour on August
11th with a plan to visit and perform in Vietnam, Thailand,
Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan and Bangladesh. 'The response
has been overwhelming, and we are expecting a blast tonight
at Osmani!' exclaimed the group.
due to the heavy storms that went on the past week, the concert
scheduled to be held at the Osmani Memorial Hall was cancelled,
much to the disappointment of the ensemble not to mention
the number of jazz lovers who were looking forward to the
being the last stop of the tour, the quartet seemed physically
worn out, the group was also dazed with the huge amount of
music and musical talents experienced through out the tour.
Upon reaching Dhaka, the group had jam sessions at the Shilpakala
Academy, where they got to play jazz music alongside the traditional
instruments of the country, namely the dhol, tabla and sitar.
'I would really like to try my fingers on the harmonium though!'
burst out Ben, the pianist.
Lewis performed and recorded with numerous Chicago artists
and had toured for five weeks in 1999, as a Jazz Ambassador
to West Africa with his brother Matt Lewis and guitarist Neal
Alger. Matt Lewis, the vocalist and trumpeter of the quartet
has also performed with several major artistes and has toured
India, Sri Lanka and West Africa as a 1998 and 1999 Jazz Ambassador.
Lorin Cohen, bassist has toured Italy with William Russo's
Chicago Jazz Orchestra and master clarinetist Buddy DeFranco.
In 1998, he was named a Blue Note Sacholar at the Skidmore
Jazz Workshop. Michael Raynor, the drummer, has worked with
the legendary saxophonist Von Freeman for 14years, appearing
on his latest release The Improviser. He has toured extensively
with vocalist Kurt Elling and has played on two of his Grammy
nominated recordings for Blue Note Records.
casually, the Quartet was having breakfast in the Hotel Sonargaon
lobby on Monday Sepember 13. While speaking about their tour,
the last stop of which was Bangladesh, the group seemed excited
with their brush with the culture, music and people in just
a few weeks. 'The people here have been so friendly ever since
we landed here,' exclaims Michael, who in turn kept asking
about Bangali life and music.
about their experiences in Pakistan, Ben spoke descriptively
about the various musicians they played with. 'It was like
creating something new altogether, a mixture of jazz and the
eastern style,' said Ben. 'We have been exposed to a whole
lot of folk music during this trip,' adds Lorin. 'It was fascinating
to watch the dhols, sitars and the santoors playing their
in our part of the world are not familiar with jazz. 'We noticed!'
nodded the quartet. 'You see, jazz revolves around the whole
performance itself,' explains Ben. 'Watching a live jazz performance
would make so much more sense to music listeners, rather than
just listening to a record.'
workshop was held recently with local musicians of Dhaka,
where the Chicago Jazz Quartet spoke about the genre itself,
the jazz culture and the history of jazz. 'The drums used
in Jazz are a little different than what you usually see,'
said Michael. 'The usual ones played in rock concerts go thud-thud,
where as the ones in jazz ensembles make little musical notes,
were really not sure what to expect in any of these countries
actually,' grinned the quartet. 'But we really are grateful
for the opportunity to experience new cultures and share some
of our own experiences with the Jazz.'
helping students in Bangkok during a workshop
Chicago Jazz Quartet: (Left to Right) Ben, Matt, Lorin
Chicago Jazz Quartet has its own website, www.chicagojazzquartet.com
(R) thedailystar.net 2004