Sunday, June 3, 2018

Smooth Flights of Jazz

Had a nice relaxed Sunday after a crazy hectic week at work - the pace is rapid especially at the end of a month and the beginning of a new one. What made the past week even more chaotic was the need to fly to Delhi on official business right in the middle of the week. 

I'm not a frequent traveler... but this flight took me back in time. While it brought to mind the many trips I've made around the world, it took me on a musical journey. As I settled down in my aisle seat, the music that filled the air was soft, pleasant and relaxing - exactly what you would expect from Smooth Jazz

Image result for smooth jazz

Hyde Park (Jeff Kashiwa) - that sound makes up the background sound of a video I compiled of the day I spent exploring New York City including the Rockafeller centre and the visit to the Observation Deck at the Empire State Building 2008 on One Summer Day (Ken Navarro)

While it was around this time that I was attracted to this wonderful genre of music, I think the earliest influence of Smooth Jazz to be touched me was back in the studios of All India Radio, where a guest DJ (or RJ) on YuvVani - the bi-weekly youth show played Morning Dance (Spyro Gyra).

The guest DJ was a senior of mine from college, back in the day when we had only three main stream to pursue - Commerce, Arts and Science (within which Engineering and Medicine were the most aspirational). Things are different today with lots more options to choose from. In fact, just last week, NMIMS (the B-school I studied in and currently serve as a guest faculty) launched the NMIMS School of Performing Arts.

This is the first ever venture in India towards a degree in Music, is what I understand. But there's the whole wide world of talent out there for talented musicians to Rise (Herb Alpert).

While we'll have to wait and see for what the future holds, I'm looking back once again. Just the couple of weeks ago, when I reminisced about about completing 30 years since my first ever show on All India Radio in my post - My Radio Days (and Nights): Remembering Saturday Date. In fact was well pleased that this post registered well over 700 Pageviews... Thanks to all... it Feels So Good (Chuck Mangione).

With trust you enjoyed the music on this post, here's one of my favorite tunes in Smooth Jazz - Take Five (Dave Brubeck).

I was inspired to write this post by the music I heard on the flight I was travelling in. Talking about flights, a week ago a TAP Air Portugal flight from Amsterdam to Lisbon made an emergy landing at Porto. The delay prompted Ray Chen to pull out his Stradivarius violin and entertain his fellow travellers. Check this out.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

My Radio Days (and Nights) - Remembering Saturday Date


Do you remember where you were on a hot May Saturday night like this - 10 years ago? What about 20? 

Thirty years ago, on a Saturday night like this, I was sitting in the studios of All India Radio Mumbai spinning the records (as the Radio Jockey or RJ) doing my first ever Saturday Date, the very very popular Pop request show at the station. 

We literally grew up on the show. I remember listening as a small kid trying to catch familiar names especially around family birthday times. Listening to all the famous songs of the 1970s including ABBA and Boney M.

I'd just finished my HSC (Grade 12) and was doing a summer assignment on a bank audit in April, when I received this letter in the Government of India Service yellow envelope offering me the opportunity to present Saturday Date. The previous letter (the first), I had received from the Radio Station was to do a Sports update on their youth show, which I had ignored. Was this really an invite to host Saturday Date. Could it really be possible? Visited the radio station and met the undersigned, a wonderful lady called Ms. Sarla Mirchandani, who put me directly on to training at using the studios at the station. After a few guidelines on how to do the show, there I was live on the Radio Waves

Earlier in the week on a sunny afternoon, I did my first show as a casual announcer introducing a piece of classical music. And in preparation for the Saturday Date, was handed over a bunch of postcards, inland letters and other envelopes for me to browse through so I could make note of the requests that were lined up for the show - maybe a 100 or more requests to browse through and organise. What did you write In Your Letter?

The bunch included a host of birthday and wedding anniversary requests with a host of others just for listening pleasure or special dedications to a youthful crush. Among the popular requests were Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder and Shakin' Stevens 

Give Me Your Heart Tonight was among the favorite dedications to someone loved, but even more requests came for Wonderful Tonight

As I spun the requested songs that week, this song ruled the Billboard charts that week - Anything For You 

Over the next few months, I was a regular at the radio station - hosting music shows in the afternoons and evenings including many more editions of Saturday Date and Music On Parade on Wednesday night. As I got around in college in my first year of B.Com, people shared their feedback on my shows. Or passed on requests to be aired on the next show of Saturday Date - a popularity I soon enjoyed. 

Over the next few years, my knowledge of music grew by leaps and bounds as I explored different genres of music. Anytime I was free after college, I'd take the train over to Churchgate, and walk into the Akashvani Bhavan to go to the music library where I could spend many hours exploring the vinyl records or just Listen To the Music.

The radio experience is what eventually made me explore compering at weddings and other occasions... that gives me great joy even today. As I look back at the years and all the wonderful experiences and opportunities I've had to entertain in these thirty years, I just look up towards heaven and say Thank You For the Music.

As I woke up this morning recalling my experience on radio, 30 years back.... my mum made her own personal appearance on radio today on Susegad Danpaar on 104.6FM in Auckland, NZ.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Climbing Everest

Mount Everest, in Nepal

Woke up this morning and the first post I saw was this one from my batchmates from B-school (Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies) - Congratulations to Venkatesh Maheshwari.

Venkatesh Maheshwari reached the Top Of The World. Congratulations Venky.

This month marks 65 years that Mt. Everest was first conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.  

I paid tribute to this conquest with my post on this blog entitled Ain't No Mountain High Enough - also a song.... check out the post for more songs about #Mounta

That video was from the credits of Sister Act 2. But did you know that there is a 2015 film called Everest. Check out this track from the OST. 

As you would expect, our entire batch was proud of this achievement, and the WhatsApp group buzzing with Congratulatory messages. Here's one post that featured on the group - a poem by John F. McCullagh

Jul 2017
There are several approaches to climbing Everest.
Some are easier than some others, none are easy.
This mountain is littered with discarded equipment
and the evidence of loss and unforced errors.
The cold here, at the top of the world,
pierces through your clothes 
Like a million acupuncture needles.
The air is so thin
That hypoxia is a constant danger.
There is exhilaration at the summit
For those who reach the top
They stand where Mallory and Irvine stood
before they suffered their fatal drop.
We climb mountains because we are men.
We are addicted to the adrenaline rush.
We climb Everest because it is there.
We climb Everest because we must.

Will sign off the post with my favorite songs about mountains from the OST of one of the greatest musicals of all time, set around the Second World War.... The Sound of Music.... Climb Ev'ry Mountain...

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter EGGed

Do you remember this ad for the NECC (National Egg Co-ordination Committee) encouraging us to eat eggs. Meri Jaan Meri Jaan

How D'ya Like Your Eggs in the Morning

Fried.... Boiled.... Poached.... Or were they Scrambled...

That's the soundtrack from the NBC sitcom featuring Kelsey Grammar as Radio psychiatrist Frasier Crane... enjoyed a few hilarious laughs from the series. Just one of the things we look back on about yesterday...

Yes... "Yesterday... All my troubles seemed so far away".... Ooh... that sound like a Beatles' song, doesn't it.... Here's some trivia about the song... it actually started as 'Scrambled Eggs'... This one's guaranteed to get you some laughs....

Speaking of eggs, my mind races back to the all the weddings I've attended as a young boy... In those days before the buffet became a standard, dinner used to be served in plated meals... and the most colourful thing on the plate was this half of a boiled egg where the yolk (yellow) was replaced with a mixture including mayonnaise smoothly piped into them. The dish is called 'Devilled Eggs'  

It's Easter Sunday today.... and you possibly enjoyed your eggs with chocolate or marzipan... or filled with little chickens. Or possibly you liked the bunnies.... Maybe you enjoyed an Egg Hunt with the kids.... If you did, are you 'Putting All Your Eggs In One Basket'.

Do you need to know anything more about eggs... Over to the Bollywood stars giving you some Ande Ka Funda

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Bread of the Day


Most of us would have said this rhyme Hot Cross Buns as little children... but did you know possibly 99% of Hot Cross Buns are sold on only one weekend of the year.... and that weekend for 2018 is this one. 

It's the week of the Easter Tridiuum and the beginning of the festival of Passover... and the Bible and the Torah have many many reference to bread.... from unleavened bread eaten with the Passover meal, manna in the desert.... the bread baked by the widow for Elijah.... and many many more types and varieties of bread.... Have you ever heard of Shortenin' Bread.

How many types of Bread do you know of? Let's see how long a list we can come up with....

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Mission Music

Around once every three years, during the liturgical season of Lent, we have Lenten Missions at our parish - OLPS Chembur. I guess the same applies to most parishes around the world - while some would have it more frequently. 

And this is the time, we are called to look into our lives and watch where we are walking. Living in Mumbai, one needs to be extra careful about where we place our steps. But this week that passed was more about gaining the inspiration on how to take the Walk of Life - not the Dire Straits type. Actually, was referring to the Footsteps Walking With Me.

There's this beautiful story that I heard about the Footprints in the sand... Got a nice version of this in a Blue Ridge Mountain Gospel album that I haven't managed to find online. Here's a different version of the same story in the voice of Cristy Lane - hers was possibly the first Gospel music cassette I remember us owning for her most famous rendition of One Day At A Time. 

Well indeed He carries us all as we move along the journey of life. Here's a more contemporary version of Footprints in the Sand from Leona Lewis. 

It doesn't matter whether we are walking on the sands of the beach or on the concrete of the footpaths, or more importantly on the figurative streets on the journeys of life. And talking of walking, my mind races back to this 1954 operatic rendition by Mario Lanza in The Student Prince - I'll Walk With God.

Sometimes the road may seem too long and difficult... but then the only way out is to surrender our lives to the hands of the master contractor... who can construct roadways through the wilderness or rivers through the desert... and as the Bible says - walking ground in the middle of the Red Sea... God Will Make A Way.

That song has a deeper meaning for me.... Everytime that song is sung at our parish, I have a host of people I meet after the service... reminding me that this was one of Dad's favorite songs.... 

As I sit here penning this post, my mind races back to Palm Sunday, four years ago, doing the finishing touches before relocating back to Mumbai. And what a journey it has been for me and the family over the last four years.... God has been with us, every step of the way.... through all the trials of life, with God making His Way in our lives... 

As I sign off on this post... I wish you all the touch of the Almighty in this coming week as we journey with Jesus on the Way of the Cross, in to the tomb and then to the glory of the Resurrection. Have a Blessed Holy Week. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Turn To God... with Songs of Joy

Had a wonderful long weekend... Thanks to the festival of colour Holi falling on a Friday.... A weekend that had its fair share of work and relaxation. 

Got back to this blog after a long break.... I also managed to find some time to spend time working out some music on my keyboard.... and the first songs that came to mind were religious songs. 

Flashed back to 2012, when I was invited to help out with the Children's Choir in my then parish - St. Michael's Church Sharjah. I used to spend at least an hour or two, coaching enthusiastic young musicians on the liturgical music to be played the next week... and what a satisfying experience it was. Moving to Mumbai, I almost immediately got involved in the liturgical music of the parish, with further opportunity to be part of the Music Ministry at the parish CCR (Catholic Charismatic Renewal) group.

Also in Mumbai, I encountered a different mood of Christian music.... Christian Rock from India... that's made waves around the world through performances at World Youth Day events over the years. 

My first encounter with this genre was at a workshop on Praise and Worship Music conducted by Lenny Soares - a singer, composer and worship leader who led the gospel band 'By Grace' to World Youth Day gatherings to Sydney in 2008 and Madrid in 2010

A few months later, at a wedding I was compering, I met a friend that I used to play in the band back in the early 90s - Samir Viegas - who introduced me to Macklin Lacerda, the lead singer of Open Secret. It was interesting to note that we shared a lot in common. Besides having sung and played with the same wedding choir that I was part of during college days, we also shared a common place of work - FCB Ulka Advertising in Mumbai. 

This Lenten Season - Open Secret have lined up a series of 11 concerts in and around Mumbai - check out for the venue most convenient for you. 

On 25th June 2017, I along with my kids were among the thousands of people who assembled at Shanmukananda Hall to celebrate 25 years of a Christian Youth Movement - Jesus Youth. I encountered the movement during my stint in the UAE, but had little or no idea about the calling of this movement. While Jesus Youth volunteers were always around supporting all the events in Church, only in India did I realise the proportions of faith that this movement drives. 

After a Celebration Eucharist con-celebrated by the Archbishop of Mumbai, His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias and a host of other Bishops and priests, the gathering broke into a festival of music and song, with the Rexband. Music from the Rexband has regularly featured at our parish Sunday School events with our children performing dances to their songs like this one - Rise Up and Dance.

Members of the Rexband will be in Mumbai this week, sharing inspiring inputs with singers and musicians on how to use musical talent for the Glory of God. I'm planning to be there.... How about YOU?

Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Musical Start for 2018

And just like that.... Two Months of 2018 have raced by...

2018 began on a high note of music....

7th January 2018 
#OLPSchembur celebrated 60 years with a musical extravaganza featuring talented musicians of the like of Ram Sampath, Darren Das and Shankar Mahadevan. 

There was absolute nostalgia in the air as alumni and ex-students from school connected after 30, 40, and some even after 50 years... Made a host of new friends just being part of the celebrations. Was great to just connect with old friends - could remember many of them, but some of them just didn't ring a bell. 

It was really a wonderful experience for me to be a part of the evening as part of the organising committee, as I spent the last few months of 2017 coming up with ideas for promoting the event on social media. 

The day was one of celebration as even the morning was dedicated to celebrating our school in all its splendour. Was wonderful catching up with teachers and batchmates, including some famous ones. 

OLPS Batch of 1986

with the famous mythologist - Devdutt Pattanaik
A great way to celebrate the first weekend of the year. 

14th January 2018 
The music continued on the next weekend... This time it was Country Music at the Neighbourhood Winter Festival organised at the Carter Road Amphitheatre... The artiste, none other than Keith Pereira, a young country star from New Zealand (making his first musical appearance to Mumbai). Was a privileged member of the audience as part of the artiste's family (he's my nephew). Took a trip back memory lane to some of the songs I've enjoyed listening to and singing through the years.... The Eagles, Garth Brooks and more.... but the best was the finale.... Country Roads. 

20th January 2018 
Another weekend and the musical spree continues... Back to school yet again as a special guest on the Annual Day. And honoured for my contribution to the Alumni celebrations of two week ago. 

But the greater joy came as a parent of two wonderful musically talented sons... both of them singing in their respective sections. Still receiving accolades from people I meet for that flawless rap sequence.   

Yes indeed.... 2018 has had a great musical start for me... And I hope it brings you lots and lots of music for the rest of the year.... 

Getting back to this blog after a long time... I do hope to be able to make more time to keep the music alive...

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