Welcome back my friends,
The above photo is from the recent Austin TX concert with the Jazz quintet. A great tour with some amazing musicians. The tour started out at SF Jazz in San Francisco with Zakir, bass legend Dave Holland, sax virtuoso Chris Potter, drumming heroes Vinnie Colaiuta & Eric Harland, India’s Louiz Banks on piano, Sanjay Divecha on guitar and the world renowned vocalist Shankar Mahadevan. Wow, what a line up.
We spent 2 days rehearsing with a few of the people in the band and then the tour took flight. Guru-ji Zakir Hussain again blew my mind in how he seamlessly weaves together music and musicians of any and all genres. As the years go by, his own musical voice continuously glows brighter and shows his ‘All Access Pass’ to what ever sonic path he chooses to traverse.
On the second night at SF Jazz I found out it was Dave Holland’s birthday, so Zakir arranged a cake and a surprise birthday ceremony on stage. Was a perfect celebration of one of the great legends of Jazz.
Then on the third night at SF Jazz we were joined by the ‘other’ God of set drumming, Vinnie Colaiuta. What a treat to work with and get to know this amazing musician. And it was also fantastic to see how the music changed by trading out Eric with Vinnie. It was like a different band since each person responded to and treated the songs differently based on the presence of one member. For me, Eric is like water in how he uses tones and time. He can change direction on a dime with even the subtlest ques and the music is able to stay light and dance. When Vinnie joined the gang, I was totally blown away at how intensely loud his core sound was. It was the same drum set, but his power was immediately apparent. And so the shows followed suit, the songs with Vinnie became like driving storms and his style of responding to the many ques of Zakir and Dave were more like considerations in his larger musical universe. It was amazing to witness both Eric and Vinnie come in only a couple of hours before the gigs and literally site read and memorize all the very complex music and then, just drop into the music at show time.
Vinnie, Shankar & Ty in the SF Jazz Elevator
Zakir, Chris, Vinnie, Louiz, Sanjay, Dave & Shankar in the SF Jazz Elevator
Pretty much every night we had some nice dinner out on the town (curtsy of Guru-ji Zakir Hussain). It was such a great chance for us all to get to know one another and tell some life stories. One of my immediate connections was with Chris who after hearing him for several nights and spending some time getting to know him, has become my absolute favorite sax player on the planet. Music flows from him like water from a spring and his tone is to die for. If you don’t know his work, check him out
Ty with the limo - quite the ride!
Zakir’s set up
Once out on the road, we were very lucky to have beautiful weather on pretty much every travel day. On our ride from Santa Fe to Albuquerque we drove right through the mind blowing ballon festival where over 500 hot air balloons were taking flight. Something I had never seen before.
Perhaps one of the highlight tunes of every performance was a duet between Zakir and Dave. This was a tune in 7 beats with lots of room to stretch out and improvise. Each and every time they performed it, the piece deepened and showed how purely ecstatic music can be in the hands of the maestros.
I was able to have some wonderful one on one time with Dave during some of the long late night & early morning van drives. He has become a new musical hero in my life and the more I learned about his approach to music and life, the more I found inspiration and enlightenment towards my own career. Check out his music and legacy Dave Holland.
Dave & Ty in the lobby of the Pittsburgh hotel
Another highlight was to see how naturally the maestro Shankar Mahadevan was able to meet any musician in any genre with his ingenious voice. The last time I had hung out with him was on the Asia Shakti tour in 2005 in Malaysia. I could see why he has become the #1 vocalist in India over the years.
On the last gig in Pittsburgh, we happen to have a killer Italian hotdog vendor stationed right outside our hotel. It is a tradition of Mujeeb (our sound maestro) and mine to seek out the best hotdogs on every tour. Not always an easy task to find something worth eating, but this time we scored some great dogs!
This collaboration was something that worked so well that we are all confident it will spark some further tours. For me, growing up with Jazz and also in my later years, Indian music, this was a musical treat which has had long lasting impact on my own musical vision. I can’t wait for the next evolution!
Blessings to you and yours and next off to the Krishna Das Reunion!