Saturday, April 30, 2016

JAZZ IT UP.... International Jazz Day

"Jazz is not just music, it's a way of life, it's a way of being, a way of thinking." - Nina Simone

Today (April 30) is International Jazz Day by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) to celebrate the beauty and power of jazz, not just as a beloved creative art form, but as an instrument for cultural diplomacy.

How was JAZZ born?... Check out this video for your answer... 'How Jazz Was Born'

Did you see Louis in the video... not the 'Banks' - Louis Armstrong? He was playing the signature trumpet. 

I possibly heard the word 'Jazz' for the first time mentioned with respect to the Jazz Yatra... but the coverage I saw on TV was lots and lots of musicians playing their own thing...

Many years later (in the mid-90s), I attended a few Jazz shows at Manoribel with Indian greats like Louis Banks, Sivamani and Karl Peters performing. And now 'I Love Jazz'

Wondering when I first heard a good Jazz song, my memory takes me back to a Zonal Singing competition I participated in at the parish when I was around 12... and my best competitor - a pretty girl - danced across the stage, dressed in a horizontal striped top (looking like a jailbird) and singing 'Mack The Knife'.

About five years later, I had my own Jazz performance that landed me in the top five at the most prestigious inter college competition in Mumbai (Malhar) - Frank Sinatra going to 'New York, New York'.

Got introduced to Instrumental Jazz at the Radio station with this track by Dave Brubeck... you got it... 'Take Five'.

One evening while I was sitting in the broadcasting studios of All India Radio, a friend walked in to play his selection of music on the YuvVani show... and his opening track was this instrumental from a group that had a name from our biology books in school - Spyrogyra. 

Smooth Jazz at its very best... I've got lots of it in my collection.... including Latin Jazz. And if you are on a hangover of International Dance Day yesterday... Heres 'Salsa Kenny'

While the beginnings of jazz were done in Southern parts of the US, two of my favorite jazz singers of today are from up in Canada. 

The lovely lady with 'Temptation', Diana Krall and the handsome guy who's 'Feeling Good', Michael Buble.

Diana Krall will be among the performers at the White House celebration of International Jazz Day. The line-up includes a famous Indian... our very own tabla maestro, Zakir Hussain. 

Among the many concerts lined up today, there is a special one that's on right now in India's very own Jazz Haven - Aamche Goa. A friend that I've met at recordings back in the '90s, Colin D'Cruz, is active in the Goa Jazz circuits and has been promoting a new category of Jazz - hold your breath.... Konkani Jazz. 

After all these songs, we've barely scratched the surface... Will be back with more Jazz music as part of my #MusicalBirthday and other posts.... Stay tuned...

I'll leave you with a quote from an early jazzman... the writer and singer of the American Songbook.... George Gershwin.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Let's Dance... It's International Dance Day

Today is International Dance Day.... So shake a leg... Do You Wanna Dance?

The thought of dancing took me back to the days when I was a kid. With a big family and lots of friends, we would just love to go for weddings... because we loved to dance. 

In the seventies we loved to 'Disco'

Disco Dancing was popular even in Bollywood and was a rage in the 80s with 'Disco Dancer' Mithun - the GrandMaster on 'Dance India Dance'. 

Anytime is the 'time to Disco'. My nieces and nephews in the '80s were 'fida' on this song... 'It's The Time To Disco' Kal Ho Na Ho

Back to the growing years, we loved to jive cause 'Rock n Roll Is King'. 

My dad was a fantastic dancer... At the family weddings we attended, there would be bookings for the Ballroom dances from my aunts (his sisters) and cousins. He could waltz and foxtrot right across the dance floor in perfect step. For a lighter moment, a cartoon waltz - with 'The Blue Danube'

The waltz was more often than not, followed by the Cha Cha Cha. You need a lesson... here goes, '1...2...cha cha cha' 

From Bollywood to Hollywood... with 'Cha Cha Slide'

'Cha Cha' originates from Latin America, which is the land of the rhythm... including the Rhumba and the Samba... 'Samba de Janiero'


I'm not a very good dancer... I've got the rhythm but not the style... Much happier playing the tunes for people to dance to. 

Dancing is very popular in Mumbai... and there are loads of classes for people of all ages... Do you remember 'Shall We Dance?'

Richard Gere learnt to dance in the movie and put up a fantastic promise. Would you like to dance. 

Just about a month ago, I was anchoring a dance exhibition put up by the dance academy run by a friend with multiple branches in Mumbai and even an international association. 

If you think you can dance, maybe you could try contacting some of my friend who count teach you to at:

Darren Das is starting a Waltz batch on 2nd May.

Brian's Academy of Dance has something for all ages.

Will leave you with a thought and a song... 'Better When I'm Dancing'...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ella... and All That Jazz

Ninety nine years ago today was born a girl who would change the face of music forever. She was born in the spring, heading into 'Summertime'.

I've heard that song being sung as a lullaby... It probably was for her as well. 

And as she grew up, she played the games that little girls did... 'A-Tisket, A-Tasket'

and enjoyed chewing 'Chew. Chew, Chew (Your Bubblegum)'

The 'First Lady of Song', the 'Queen of Jazz' - Lady Ella Fitzgerald came from humble beginnings possibly singing in the streets of Harlem till she won a contest at the Amateur Nights at the Apollo Theater. But then she probably performed across the length and breadth of America joining people as they 'Take The A Train'

Collaborating with some of the greatest musicians of all time from Duke Ellington, Count Basie and I just love the touch of 'Louis Armstrong' - with songs from the American Songbook. 

Need a lesson in music? Take a lesson from Ella... 

'It Don't Mean a Thing If You Ain't Got That Swing'. From 'Swinging the Blues' to the Samba - the 'One Note Samba' - this is what the call scatting.

Ella Fitzgerald indeed gave her all to music - 'All Of Me'. 

That's one of my favorites that I've tried my voice at. Check our my version at soundcloud.

Back to Ella, we can only cherish all the music she's given us and listen to her advice to  "Dream A Little Dream of Me".

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Much Ado About Shakespeare...

I've reached 100...on this blog...

I realised I was nearing the 100th post on this blog... and been wondering what trying to come up with a good topic for the post...

I thought I'd celebrate Earth Day on Friday...but got really busy at work... As I logged in online on Saturday morning, there was the perfect topic to celebrate 100. In fact, it was a 4 times 100 moment...

April 23rd is marked on some calendars as the birthday as well as death anniversary of the 'greatest writer in the English language' and the 'greatest dramatist of all time'. And this year marked 400 years since the death of...

Four hundred years on, William Shakespeare may well be among the most quoted. Check out some of his best quotes on music...

And his influence on music continues even now. Have you heard the Dire Straits song sharing a title with the Shakespearean romance "Romeo and Juliet"

"Romeo + Juliet" was a motion picture released in 1996 and included in its soundtrack a song by the Cardigans - Lovefool

And signing off with the Taylor Swift's "Love Story" also inspired by Shakespeare..

Many more stories coming up here on "A Musical Twist of Life"... Thanks for your support over the past 100 posts... Go ahead and share this link with your friends who love music in their life...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Birthday Buddies... Thank You

My mailbox is flooded - as are my pages and groups on social media. A big Thank You to all the people who wished me... and prayed for me on my birthday - family, friends, classmates (from school, college and business school), colleagues (past and present) and the members of the various groups that I belong to - spiritual, professional, etc... even some people whom I have never met before. But most of all, I need to thank the Almighty for the life that He has given me and the wonderful family that loves and cares for me.  

I also received wishes from my banks and insurance providers on my birthday. And I surely wasn't expecting to see this when I opened Google.

The past year has been quite a happening year for me having embarked on a host of new ventures. While updating my own knowledge, I also got the opportunity to share some of my own experiences and insights with with the MBA students that I've taught in Mumbai and Pune (was pleasantly surprised to meet one of them at work today). Also stepped back into the corporate world after a short independent stint, and interacting with a whole bunch of young professionals aspiring for 'nothing but the best'.

Also in the last year, I got back to the entertainment circles in Mumbai and met many people at the various weddings, communion parties, fun fairs, club member events, stage events and corporate parties that I've had the opportunity to host. 

While teaching Digital Marketing and working in the same industry, I've built up my digital persona - with support from friends and followers like each one of you. Thank you so much.

This blog and my Facebook and Twitter pages have been celebrating #MusicalBirthday's and other special days, all round the year. Today, being my birthday as well, I have a wish to all my #BirthdayBuddies - a couple of batchmates in school, some in college, a friend from my radio days and an exceptionally professional compere - Alaric Ferns. I also shared a birthday with a boss - the MD of the company in Dubai where I worked for a more than thirteen years. 

I'm also lucky to share my birthday with musicians and singers from groups of the seventies known for their wonderful harmony. 

Happy #MusicalBirthday to Alan and Eve

Ladies first. Eve Graham, 73 was part of 'The New Seekers' - a group that like me would "Like to Teach the World To Sing."

I remember going through the lyrics and the chords in the 'Pop Hits' song book with Daddy just relaxing and strumming the guitar. Also clearly remember another occasion sitting and working out the most popular song of 'The Animals' - House of the Rising Sun with Alan (not Adam) Price on the keyboards - just a year older than Eve at 74.

Thanks again for the wishes, love, blessings and prayers. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Record Store Day

When was the last time you spent time at the Record Store?

Today, the third Saturday of April, is 'Record Store Day'. While reading the outline about the day, my mind raced back to an April day in 1988, when I first walked into the Music Record Library at Akashvani Bhavan - the home of All India Radio in Mumbai. 

As a teenager in college, I'd spend hours at the Radio Station, selecting music for my shows or just browsing through the amazing library of vinyl records held there. That's where I discovered some absolute gems of music and songs, I never ever knew existed. And of course discovered Classical music in an absolutely new way. 

A few years later when I started compering and DJ-ing at weddings and other occasions, I needed to be abreast of the latest and the best of music available. Working with a leading Mumbai ad agency, there was also disposable income at hand to fuel my passion of music. If I ever found myself with an hour or so to spare in South Bombay, I'd walk into this hallowed halls of Mumbai's music journey. 

Rhythm House Kala Ghoda is where I could spend hours browsing through their enormous collection of music. And what's special about this place, is the knowledge that the sales guys would have and share on any genre of music, or any artist that you would be interested in. Way before computer apps were developed to track stocks and inventory, you'd get pleasing answers to your questions, and know just when the CD you requested would be available. 

A few months ago, in the Digital Marketing course I was conducting at a leading Mumbai management institute, I was discussing a Case Study on the Digital Revolution disrupting the Music Industry. And just a few months ago, this icon of Mumbai lost its battle with the digital world shutting down its doors on the physical store forever. 

On Record Day today, I'm going through my CD collection, nostalgic about the good old 'Record Store' Days. Besides Rhythm House, I also remember the 'Sound Out' at Heera Panna and 'Hiro Music House' at Fort and Bandra - that have their stamp in my music collection. Thanks to the 'Record Store' for being there for me and adding all that music in my life...

Monday, April 11, 2016

Time For A Haircut?

School exams are over. Summer vacations just begun. With the heat on in summer, it's time for a haircut. My younger son just loves a haircut. His face lights up at the mere mention of one... and it's not for the Lollipop.

Head out for a haircut over the weekend... and you could be waiting your turn. My current barber loves crime serials like 'Saavdaan India'. In Dubai, it'd be a Malayalam movie playing on the TV set. When I was young, we were more likely to be listening to Vividh Bharati channel on the radio. Back in the 1940s however, barbers in the US and Britain devised their own form of entertainment while you were in the chair. They'd sing... what you'd call a Barbershop in the Good Old Days...

Thirty years ago, I participated in my first ever college festival - the Malhar at St. Xaviers Mumbai - and encountered a different style of music. A group of guys and gals from St. Andrews College went up on stage and sang perfect harmony... with the Java Jive.

Today we celebrate Barbershop Quartet Day. It's not always sung in the barbershop. Sometimes it can be sung even on the plane. We used to do it on the picnic bus...

And this weekend we'll see the opening of another barbershop - Barbershop - The Next Cut. They're back after 10 years and I hope it's good fun. 

Did you just touch your head there?... Go on, head out to your local barbershop now, and get your best summer haircut yet...

Monday, April 4, 2016

From Small Bump To Sweet Child

On the Feast of the Annunciation today, we also celebrate International Day of the Unborn Child. The Feast of the Annunciation commemorates the day the Lord Jesus Christ became a tiny infant in his mother’s womb. It is a day of celebration and remembrance of the dignity of the unborn. It also a day to remember the millions of unborn children whose lives have been lost to the violence of abortion.
Since the day is dedicated to the child, I thought it would be a good idea to post songs dedicated to the child. And the first song is aptly addressed by Ed Sheeran to the unborn child - Small Bump. 

My favorite dedication to a newborn and part of my set has the lyrics "...less than one minute old". Isn't She Lovely is sung by Stevie Wonder to his newborn daughter Aisha. Managed to find a nice version coupled with another beautiful song that is sometimes also attributed as a similar dedication - Sunshine of My Life.

She is lovely, and He is beautiful. John Lennon dedicated a song to his son Sean - Beautiful Boy. 

Her six-week old baby Millie inpired the lyrics of Amy Grant's Baby Baby. However the song is pictured as a romance song between adults. 

Any of us who have children would definitely have sung them lullabies to put them to sleep. (One of my sisters who put her kids to sleep with "Frosty the Snowman"). I've got a couple of colleagues at work who are new parents, and an important thing for them is to have their child sleeping through at night. Don't we all love to see the Sleeping Child.

A more recent DJ hit has a comforting message for the child. Swedish House Mafia sings Don't You Worry Child.

The message of the day is to respect life in whatever form it may be. Audrey Hepburn, the famous British actress of the 50s and 60s has share some simple wisdom about life. "The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters."

Saturday, April 2, 2016


He had repeated facial expressions and unintentional constant motion of his hands and feet. His hearing was very sensitive and intense and loud sounds made him feel physically sick. At other times he was excessively active.  He was unable to carry on an intellectual conversation and existed in a careless and reckless way with impolite and frequent mood changes. 

Do you know whom the above paragraph describes? Maybe this piece of classical music will help you think...

Did you get the answer? His picture is right here in the frame above. The paragraph above was about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the 18th century composer of major symphonies, concertos, operas and even Masses... 

Autism affects approximately 1 out of every 150 children around the world. It is a neural development disorder that affects their ability to socialize normally by impacting their abilities to utilize verbal and non-verbal communication.

And Mozart is not the only famous person to have been afflicted with the condition. The list includes writers, scientists, painters and even a President of the USA. 

Today is World Autism Awareness Day as designated by the United Nations - a day to help build aware about autism and to work for the inclusion of autistic persons in the regular circles of society and life. 

Autism affects approximately 1 out of every 150 children around the world. It is a neural development disorder that affects their ability to socialize normally by impacting their abilities to utilize verbal and non-verbal communication. 

Even today we find geniuses among autistic individuals, if only we give them a chance. Check this out...

Do you know anyone who has an autistic child? If you know someone in India, then you possibly can help them get the support that they need from the Forum for Autism. This forum of parents has support from Ambassadors like Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and sports commentator Harsha Bhogle and their families. 

A friend of mine from college and his wife - Ravi and Chitra Iyer - are active promoters of the Forum and support the various initiatives of the Forum. Chitra has summed up some of her experiences in World Autism Day: A Mother’s Struggle From Heartbreak To Hope.

While studying in primary school, there was a boy in my class who had a lot of difficulty learning and communicating. At the end of the year, we moved on while he was held back in the same class. Years later, there was an initiative in our parish to set up a school for Special Needs children. On one occasion, while in secondary, we were taken for a visit to the Special Needs school and there was this boy who was once in the same class as me, a student in the school. 

It is an absolute delight to see the enthusiasm and the talent of these children showcased at the various events conducted by the Church community at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Chembur. This picture was taken at a Family Fun Fair event organised in December 2015 where the students put up an excellent dance performance. Further a stall was set-up to sell the artistic creations of the students from the school.

The theme of this year's observance of World Autism Awareness Day is “Autism and the 2030 Agenda: Inclusion and Neurodiversity”. The invitation to us is not to wait till 2030, but to do our part in spreading awareness about autism so that patients may be more easily accepted and included in our society. 

April Fool

It was 1st April 1980. In the days before the internet, my dad was making calls to all his near and dear ones. He was telling them that my mom had given birth, and some of them thought he was playing an April Fool prank. 

Well, my little sister celebrated her birthday yesterday. And since she was born on April 1st she was very good at fooling. In fact she has an excellent sense of humour and a natural knack of making a joke in any situation. 

Being April Fool's day, I was trying to think of possible songs to include in this post. And the only one's I could come across were about being 'fooled' in love... from Connie Francis (Everybody's Somebody's Fool) to Zayn (Fool For You) ... 

And in between those above, the King quoted the Wise Men ... "Only Fools Rush In"...

UB40 put a reggae beat  to that song and made a big hit. So many more 'fool' songs out there, but I know only one band with 'fool' in it's name - Fool's Garden.

While some of us may well have got fooled in a 'pranky' sort of way on April Fool's Day, some fool hijacked a plane the previous day and fooled many people before he got caught. One of my favorite TV shows over the recent years has been the crime show CSI with the great themes from The Who. While the year progresses, we need to make sure we 'don't get fooled again.'  

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