Review: Bollywood Jazz 2017


Of all the combinations in the world, ‘Bollywood Jazz’ initially seems an unlikely pairing. However, in order for cultures to truly respect one another, combinations like this are a must in today’s world. It’s not just an appealing idea, though: it sounds good too.

What is Bollywood Jazz?

The project is the brainchild of Supriya Nagarajan, the director of Manasamitra, a Yorkshire-based arts organisation that delivers experiences with a distinct South-Asian theme. They teamed up with GemArts, an organisation based in the North-East, to bring the performance to The Sage in Gateshead. Bollywood Jazz combines vocals from Bollywood movies with Jazz instruments. Supriya is lead vocalist alongside three award-winning musicians named below:

Bollywood Jazz group perform at the Northern Rock Foundation Stage at The Sage in Gateshead. Matt Redman (bass guitar and multi-instrumentalist) and Beau Stocker (drums)

From left to right: James Cave (piano and cello); Supriya Nagarajan (lead vocials); Matt Redman (bass guitar and multi-instrumentalist); and Beau Stocker (drums).

How does it work?

After watching the ‘Bollywood Jazz’ quartet perform, I can see the combination of both genres is inevitable. They reflect one another, making the project successful in creating something new from two very distinct cultures. Supriya’s Carnatic (South-Indian style) vocals convey the sometimes emotional message behind each piece, which is remarkable considering she mainly sings in Hindi and Tamil. They kindly give some background information on each song and some parts are in English too.

The other members, who are clearly skilled at playing their individual instruments, contribute the cool Jazz vibe we would expect. Surprises like Cave’s operatic singing add to the variety of the performance. As they change instruments, Supriya shows equal skill in changing dialect, the effect of which makes you more curious; a huge part of the project’s conception. The interaction between each member shows they have bonded in the process of making Bollywood Jazz come to life. The vocals and instruments, which aren’t usually heard together, naturally sounded disjointed at the beginning. However, the improvisational-style of the performance soon takes you on a journey where cultures unite, making you warm to the group and even ask for a second-helping.

More info:

If you want to find out more about Bollywood Jazz and other similar events, visit the GemArts website or Manasamitra. The trailer is below: