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Sound sense

The Amit Heri Group entertained a select gathering at The Park recently

ALL MUSICIANS strive for completeness. Many achieve it by confining themselves to a genre and traversing a well-laid path. There are others who achieve this by taking the more arduous route of improvisation and mixing - one in which a new path is laid each time a musician performs. Every time he picks up his guitar and joins his band "The Amit Heri Group", Bangalore-based Amit Heri takes the bumpy, but "much more satisfying" road to completeness.

"I have grown up with both Western and Indian music forms, and, for me, completeness is defined by the coming together of all these forms," says Heri, whose band recently serenaded a gathering at Aqua, The Park. "On occasions, when I play only jazz, I feel very incomplete."

Mixing styles

Heri says that Carnatic, Hindustani, Indian folk, funk, Latino and jazz are all comfortable in the cauldron of mixing, a fact that he realised even in the early years of training he underwent at the Berkeley College of Music in Boston. After graduating in Jazz and Composition (Film Scoring), he quickly realised that contemporary jazz was the way to the Indian listener's ear and acted on this wisdom. "Traditional jazz has a limited following in India. Contemporary jazz has elements that Indians can relate to. At the end of the day, a musician has to connect with his audience," says Heri.

Not just Indian jazz aficionados, even the foreigners who attend the jazz festivals at Montreaux, Paris, London New Orleans and San Francisco are mesmerised by what Heri has to offer.

While he was quick off the block to form a band and perform live, he did not for long pursue his other qualification - film scoring. He achieved completeness of another kind when an opportunity to score music for "Morning Raga" came his way. Mahesh Dattani's "Mango Souffle" followed, further strengthening Heri's position as a composer of film music.

Between these, Heri has time to shape music for the stage and advertisements. His notable contribution to the stage is in the form of the soundtrack he created for Girish Karnad's "Tughlaq". His music has often been part of productions by Stem Dance Theatre, a contemporary dance company, headed by his wife Madhu Nataraj-Heri.


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