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Rendezvous with BlueNote

Andrew Morris and Saad Chowdhury, on first impressions doesn't look anything like a musical duo. More like a father-son pair, that first impression is certainly deceiving. When I met them on a cloudy April afternoon, I would've been fooled, had I not known about BlueNote beforehand. Andrew, with his soprano sax in hand ushered me into the musical realm of Blue Note, where Saad voiced the pieces with his skilful fingers on the piano and his soft vocals on “the great American songbook”. The soul-searching words from 'Summertime' unfolded beautifully with the soothing notes from the sax and keys, complementing Saad's voice and I listened, spellbound.

“So, how did BlueNote start out? Did you face any difficulties while introducing such a new genre here?” I posed the first question of the afternoon.

“I met Saad only last December, when we got together to provide backing music for a Dutch singer in town called Danielle. Realizing he was good, I asked him if he'd be interested in doing something, replied Andrew. “I was home throughout December and January, and had vague plans for a classy sort of duo - perhaps attack the embassy circuit, the clubs and so on. We bought loads of sheet music, worked out a set, and began practicing seriously in February. We wanted to market this in a new way, hence the name BlueNote, which is an old jazz club in NYC. We've been lucky to get a number of bookings at various clubs and places, thanks to some amount of marketing with a logo, photo shoot and website; even before we started playing in public.”

“We've been rehearsing for the last 5 weeks, and as we are both fairly musical, a good chemistry has developed; anticipating each other and communicating through playing, The reactions were a bit bemused, but in Gulshan, there are many people who've spent time in the States and know this music, or perhaps know what it represents and want a piece of it. Even if they can't recognize the songs, they like the idea.” Saad added.

The music had now changed its pace, with the sax playing on a slightly lifted mood.

“The great American songbook, which is essentially the kind of music we play is basically comprised of tuneful melodies and witty lyrics.” Andrew guided me through the beats. “Many songs are from Broadway shows, mostly written between the '30s to '50s. The genre is familiarized with name like Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and Duke Ellington. Many songs are originally written by Jews, performed by Blacks to a White audience. Currently, a Welsh-Brit/Bangla duo is bringing it to the Bangladeshis!”

Our laughter was drowned with the performance taking a more upbeat turn. Andrew's sax and Saad's piano were now humming playfully alongside soft drumbeats, which gave the musical a new different dimension.

“BlueNote supports the BNWLA Hostel Appeal (www.bnwlahostel.org) with proceeds from its performances,” Andrew continued. “I, personally collaborated with Ornob, who has a strong social conscience and we will be playing for the kids soon. This has been a better start to the campaign than I expected and we're fully supportive of the cause.”

“On a more personal note, how long have you been here? What do you do?” I asked.

“Ever since 1998; first in Rajshahi and then in Chittagong. I responded to a job offer and worked here, on and off as an education consultant ever since. As of now, I'm leading a team rewriting the textbooks that teachers here study on the B.Ed under the Bangladesh Ministry of Education. I feel at home here and I don't want to leave!” replied Andrew.

“I'm 23 and my dad is Bangladeshi while Mum is British. I teach piano and play for a couple of choirs,” answered Saad.

These very talented musicians curtained the session with Pink Panther. Their music was exciting and soothing at the same time. For me, BlueNote has been a wonderful, refreshing experience. I love their energy and passion towards what they were playing. BlueNote is up live tonight at Le Saigon, and I can't wait to listen to more of their sensuous performances.

For more on BlueNote, visit: http://www.bluenotesound.blogspot.com/

By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya



Oops!

A young man orphaned, early twenties and average.

This particular young man, Whose Name Shall Not Be Mentioned (or, WNSNBM), was driving a car. How he came to be driving a car is not an important question. Where he was driving the car, is. Where was he driving the car, then?

He was driving the car on a hilly area. It was, indeed, very… very hilly. One wrong turn and one's existentiality can be questioned. Another very important question arises Why was he driving the car on that hilly area?

One must take into considering WNSNBM's persona. He was average. And about that there was, and there should be, no doubt. He was average looking with an average hairstyle and an average personality, and average intellect, with average strength you get the point. He was average. He was so average, that he could very well not only be mistaken to be the personification of Average, but he could also give the personification of Average a run for… well, a run for his averageness. And this is who, and what, WNSNBM is.

He was, averagely, sick and tired of his average life. So, he went to a very nonaverage shrink. This shrink was not at all in a good mood when they met. The reason was that this shrink was yelled at by his usually high-strung wife to take a hike, or better yet, take a ride along a hilly area and hopefully fall off a very steep cliff. And so, it came to be that the shrink vented his anger and/or frustration upon poor average WNSNBM. This is what was said by the shrink:

“Look, mister. I don't have time to listen to your averagely troubled life, so--“ “But, I pay yo-.” “Why don't you go buy an average car, drive up an average hill and become famous for this thing or that? God knows, you could use a little bit unconventionality in your insipid existence! Now Shoo!” And with that, WNSNBM bought an average car and came to be driving on a very hilly area. Hmm…. This might have answered the how part… Oh, well.

Pondering confusedly, WNSNBM was having a very hard time keeping his eyes on the road, not because he was constantly being knocked this way and that, but because the road was very irregular, and he couldn't really focus on where he wanted to focus. The point of focus kept bobbing up and down. After some time, he realized he had passed the bumpy road on the account that the focus point stopped bobbing. The car sped along an average hilly non-bumpy path. Now this was a place where WNSNBM knew what was going on. Average was where he stood tall and proud and knew what's what. Average knows average. But, there was something that should be noted. Heights, as average they are, can still be very much dangerous if its magnitude is enough. Such was the case then, for he was atop a hill, and it was quite a large hill, average that it was. But, ofcourse, our average little friend hadn't thought of that.

The car kept on speeding along, as the sun set behind WNSNBM's back. The sky had become ominously red and the wind had become ominously quiet as the tires rolled on. Ominously, one might add. All this ominousity should have set anyone's teeth on edge, but WNSNBM was enjoying the averageness of the place to take much of a notice.

That is, until he was feeling a bit light and dizzy. He 'stopped' his car, and his face screwed up in concentration as stepped out of the car, even as it was falling from a thousand feet, and placed his foot on thin air. And all of a sudden, his teeth were on edge, as panic set in. And what was an averagely sensible man to do on a nonaverage and nonsensical situation like this? Why, he did what any averagely sensible man would do.

He became nonsensible, wished to some deity or the other for forgiveness, and thinking that it would be a nice time to be a hummingbird, decided to do what a hummingbird does when it's in the air; he flapped his wings er, hands approximately 10 times per second, hoping to be able to fly at 60 miles-per-hour. He subsequently realized things would not turn out as he'd thought, decided and wished, and so as he plummeted down towards this ominously large brownish-dirty thing called ground at approximately 666 centimeters per second, he muttered to no one in particular, “Bugger it all.” It was a nice thing to say, considering his situation.

From a distance, several people were picking tea leaves. They heard a thud. They looked towards the generation direction of it. And they went back to picking tea lives.

The ghost of WNSNBM saw his corpse lying on the ground, mangled beyond imagination, and deceased beyond disbelief. He sighed. He heard cracking noises. He turned his heads, and his eyes widened. He watched in horror, as the ground opened up, and not at all in the shape of a pentagram. He saw an indistinct figure climb out, and beckon him forward, and it seemed the figure's orifices were oozing of something a little like maggots and a lot like entrails. Shaking his head in a not so average way, he ambled forward, melancholically, and clambered down after the figure. There remained a sordid stench, as the ground closed up, and as it did, the hummingbird that was flying by could swear that it distinctly heard someone say, “Bugger it all, and bugger the hummingbirds.”

By S.S. Emil

Book review

Here comes the Sun

So no one told you life was gonna be this way Your job's a joke, you're broke Your love life's DOA…

The sun is run-down, dirty, and on the verge of a breakdown. The temporal highway is all clogged up, and the wrong dreams are being delivered to the wrong people. Those in charge of the Universe are pretty much suspended in a diplomatic tangle, and things are such a mess that an angel and a demon decide to defy their superiors for once and team up to do something about it. Their solution? If immortals are going to make a right foul-up of everything, might as well bring in a mortal to sort it all out.

Jane Hapsburg is fed up with her life, and her work. Having called it quits with the deadbeat job she was in, she's looking for something a little more…challenging. No sooner does she have the thought than she bumps into a mysterious stranger who seems to know her every thought.

Far away in some idyllic land, a bad tempered woodcutter vents his frustration on the trees. Every time someone mentions about the powers that be, he gets angrier? You see, he used to be one of them.

The three stories collide to make for the delightful adventure that is Here comes the sun. Tom Holt is his usual sardonic, irreverent self, and his characters, mortal or otherwise, are funny, quirky, and human. Few writers can anthropomorphise non-human characters the way Holt can. The story reads like a lighter, more comical prequel to Good Omens. It's a laugh and a half, and I'm forever grateful to Osama for lending it to me!

By Sabrina F Ahmad
sabera.jade@gmail.com

 
 

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