Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jazz, By the Way

I went for a jazz concert yesterday. It's part of my experiments with becoming more open minded, doing things I didn't do for the entire decade of my twenties...things I regret not being open to in the past. The whole essence of these experiments is to say Yes a lot. Even to things, I'm convinced I won't enjoy.

Last evening, I decided (against my better judgement) to attend an evening of Jazz. It's a genre of music that I've never understood. It's like a club that I know is really cool but won't admit me. It's like a Jackson Pollock that everyone seems to appreciate the genius of, except me. It's like an Orhan Pamuk book that will always be just out of reach. I feel as if I'm locked out, staring in through a dirt smeared window - the dirt is, of course, on my side of the glass.

I sat in the makeshift lobby area outside the main concert hall, watching the performance projected on the American Centre's walls, right next to the His n Hers. I had been inside for a while but the seats were limited and I didn't want to take up the space of a true jazz enthusiast. Outside seemed perfect for heathens like me. There we were - the yawning, the sleepy and the high-pitched squeakers. The cellphone addicts, the girlfriend pleasers and the 'we thought he was famous' seekers. I tried for a while to pay attention and really give this a shot. How can something so universally appealing, elude me so completely, I thought. I waited for the genius to hit me like a lightening bolt. It never really happened.

Each track seemed like it was on a collision course with the next, crashing into each other, making it difficult to tell which mangled parts belonged to which song. I felt dyslexic - jazz dyslexic. It was all a jumble of plink plink plink, boom bash, budoom-doom-doom. 'Don't think too much about it...there's nothing to 'understand', said my friend. But try as much as I could, it was no use. Jazz and me would never do the whole twain-meeting thing.

On the way back, I asked my friend if I - the self-proclaimed music addict - had actually got it wrong all these years. Had I been more in love with music for the emotional context it fit into? Does my notion of a 'good' track have to fulfil a criteria of matching with the film in my head. Does it have to fit into categories of 'sad', 'happy', 'angry', 'joyful' etc. etc. Am I the bleeding heart, country music loving fool who has no true appreciation for the beauty of music as it is?

Then I heard Saeen Zahoor performing with Noori as part of the Coke Studio project ( and I realise I have enough stuff to be insecure about without worrying how little I understand jazz. It's ok, if I delay the cooldom. The greater existential implications of my not liking jazz can wait a while. I have a bunch of stuff to illegally download first...

Aik Alif - Bulleh Shah (performed by Saeen Zahoor and Noori at the Coke Studio)

Parh parh ilm te faazil hoya
Te kaday apnay aap nu parhya ee na
You read so many books
to know it all,
yet fail to ever read your

heart at all.

Bhaj bhaj warna ay mandir maseeti
Te kaday mann apnay wich warya ee na

You rush to holy shrines to play a part,
Would you dare enter the shrine of your heart

Larna ay roz shaitaan de naal
Te kadi nafs apnay naal larya ee na

Everyday you fight Satan
But you never fight your own Ego
Bulleh Shah asmaani ud-deya pharonda ay
Te jera ghar betha unoon pharya ee na

Bulleh Shah you try grabbing that which is in the sky
But you never get hold of What sits inside you
Bas kareen o yaar, Ilm-oun
bas kareen o yaar
Ik Alif teray darkaar

Stop seeking all this knowledge my friend
Only an Alif is what you need

Allah Sayyaan Allah Sayyaan
God is All we need! God is All!
Nee main jaanaa Jogi de naal
I will follow the wandering dervish!
Jo naa jaane, Haqq ki taaqat
Rabb naa devey us ko Himmat
If you deny the power of all that’s true,
God will not grant strength to you.
Hum Mann ke darya mein doobey
Kaisi nayya? Kya manjhdhaar?

We have drowned in the river of Self
the boat and the flowing waters do not matter
Bas kareen o yaar, Ilm-oun,
bas kareen o yaar

Allah Sayyaan Allah Sayyaan

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