Amit Heri

Last night Debbie and I went to see Amit Heri at Hypnos. We’d heard him perform at Grasshopper last weekend and were impressed enough to want to hear more. He’s a Berklee College of Music trained jazz guitarist, and his set last night showed the depth and breadth of his talent.

As Hypnos is a bar/club setting the crowd was pretty high-energy, so they started with a heavily rock influenced fusion piece. It reminded me a bit of Jeff Beck’s early solo work. He moved fluidly into other genres including Spanish flamenco/gypsy vaguely reminiscent of Paco De Lucia, Brazilian, classical Spanish, traditional jazz, and blues.

He brought up guest singers for two numbers, which was very popular with the crowd. They peformed well (though I found it incogruous to hear “Ain’t no Sunshine” performed by a woman, the alternation with vocals by the drummer worked very nicely. That drummer can sing!) While the vocalists were nice the real heart of the performance was the obvious pleasure they took in peforming with each other, and the musicality of their performances. The playful collegiality combined with serious musicianship made for a lovely evening.

I am a little unhappy with the venue. I know that jazz is traditionally played in dark smoky clubs, this certainly was both very dark and very smoky! However the sight lines and acoustics were not ideal. The sounds was both loud and bright, with lots of flat hard surfaces to bounce off. My other gripe is that music promotion seems almost non-existent in Bangalore. I scan the papers looking for events, I get on mailing lists for notification of events, and STILL the only way I heard about this was by word of mouth from someone I met last weekend. If I can’t hear about a jazz guitar event at a club that’s practically on my doorstep, how can anyone expect to find out about good music in more obscure venues?

One quick comment about Amit’s performance at Grasshopper. That was his first live solo outing and it had a few rough edges. The venue was more like a small recital hall, and the audience was very attentive and very quiet – unlike a typical club performance. His playing was good, but maybe because of nervousness, the venue, or the audience, it didn’t feel like he really connected with the audience. Solo jazz guitar is a tough gig, especially with an audience hanging on every note. Some of the things that work well in a club setting don’t work so well as a soloist. The sound at Grasshopper was processed more than I would have liked, sometimes with a heavy hand (foot?) on the reverb, other times with gratuitious effects. Solo jazz guitar is about one person’s ability on their instrument. It’s more intimate, subtle, and requires a different kind of listening. The performance was obviously good enough to leave me wanting to hear more, but I think it could have been even better.

That said, the set at Hypnos worked. The band was together, the music was hot, and the crowd loved it. Amit was obviously in his metier, and a fine metier it is. I want more.

6 Comments so far

  1. Anton (unregistered) on May 27th, 2007 @ 11:42 pm

    “However the sight lines and acoustics were not ideal. The sounds was both loud and bright, with lots of flat hard surfaces to bounce off. ”

    Yup your right, and already on my wishlist:

    1) Dedicated jazz lounge
    2) Deep pile carpet and thick curtains
    3) Ampitheatre seating and non-parallel, acoustically dampened walls.
    4) Full range speakers (did you notice the satellite/sub setup at most of the “fine” dining places?
    5) Small, intimate floor for samba and tango aficianados.

    I can just imagine it now: the immersive sound and vibe of the bass flowing around you whilst still being able to have a quiet conversation!

    People say that we have other priorities: but why does it have to be either/or, now/then? Why not “both”? Why the flip-flop, when we claim an ascendancy on the world stage?

  2. blr bytes (unregistered) on May 28th, 2007 @ 12:25 pm

    Ummm, Take 5 in Indiranagar perhaps? The music’s good.

    Or the Sunday Brunch at Taika. Great band. Good Thai food. It’s called Sunday’s in Siam. Open bar too!

  3. Anton (unregistered) on May 28th, 2007 @ 2:50 pm

    Went to Take 5 last week: it was my whippin’ boy for the sats/sub comment!

    Taika, I admit, has a good sound: gosh I heard it last 2 Sundays!


    Since I don’t want to hijack Charles’ blogsite, could we shoot the breeze on your (Dilettante) site instead? A “dialogue” on “edgeplay” could get “edgy”!:oO! LOL!

  4. Charles Haynes (unregistered) on May 28th, 2007 @ 3:02 pm

    You aren’t hijacking it, that what it’s for!

    As for Take 5, I’ve heard mixed reviews. I’ll say more when I have some actual personal experience.

    Have to check out Taika.

  5. anita (unregistered) on May 28th, 2007 @ 3:09 pm

    take 5’s a decentish place, a few of us visited a week or so ago. and they’ve positioned it as a jazz lounge. but i don’t know if they play live jazz. that would be great though!

  6. blr bytes (unregistered) on May 28th, 2007 @ 4:35 pm

    @ Anton. I’m not really blogging there anymore. So much more fun to leave comments and have a conversation of sorts. So any comment box is good, really.

    They do play live jazz but you might have to call ahead and check. The place has quite a few people with a ‘jazz pedigree’ involved in it’s operations so it’s usually good.

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