Blues Boys of Awadh

With winters setting in one gets to see a rise in the number of weddings taking place in and around any given city.But what is of greater appeal to me is the Brass band that belts out hit tunes from Hindi Films to add flavour to the wedding procession of the bridegroom popularly known as Baraat in India.

The best example of the brass band can be seen in the Bollywood blockbuster Dev D which has a song called Emotional Attyachar based on the same. Over the years its been a tradition that these bands seem to be playing a set number of songs with the addition of few songs here and there, but some of these bands have a rich history behind them and I thought I’d try working on bringing out some of the popular ones out.

Lucknow being comparatively a smaller city it has its small share of such bands.But let me tell you the existence of such bands is seen not only in India but all across the globe. At times they can be disturbing because you generally hear them in the evening but nevertheless some of them are good enough so one doesn’t really bother.Some of the popular ones in the city are Soni , Shiv Shankar , Manoranjan , Nishi and Azad Brass band .

In India, as everywhere else, it appeals to its audience. The first time Indians were introduced to brass music was in 1750. The British Empire presented an English brass band in Calcutta. A century later, clarinets, trumpets, trombones, tubas, side drums, bass drums played for all festivities, on whoever’s initiative: British or Indians, whatever the purpose: religious, popular, military or sportive. The repertoire was western as well as Indian.

Brass bands today belong to the Indian tradition. They accompany events such as national or religious celebrations, popular festivals and also live events such as weddings. In India, no marriage is without a brass band!

They play in procession through the congested and noisy street, from the home of the bridegroom to that of the person to whom he is engaged, followed by the enthusiastic party family dancing on rolling percussion and strident clarinets.

To name a few of the brass bands that have made it big in the industry are Shyam Brass Band , Bombay Baja  and Jaipur Kawa Brass Band.Now heres a brief introduction into each one of these internationally acclaimed bands.

Shyam Brass band is popularly known as Shyam Band which was established in 1971 by the late Ishwari Prasad.It is one of India’s finest authentic and first internationally acclaimed brass band specialized in performing processions at festivals, weddings, and other high profile events.

The band  is as big as 150 musicians consisting of musicians from a variety of musical backgrounds, and play a range of instruments including, trumpets, trombones, saxophones, clarinets, dhol & other traditional Indian style leather/fiber based rhythm instruments and percussions

Bombay Baja are one of Europe’s first Indian brass bands, they specialise in performing processions at festivals, Asian weddings, and other high profile events. The eight-piece brass band consists of musicians from a variety of musical backgrounds ranging from Bhangra to Jazz and Classical

Speaking of the Kawa Brass Band, Hameed Khan “Kawa” is the creator and artistic director of Musafir and Jaipur Kawa Brass Band and comes from Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan. His father and forefathers were musicians, exponents of both folk and classical Indian music. He is a master tabla player and after arriving in France in 1984, Hameed spread his culture in a particular way, sharing it with artists of different persuasions.

The Trio Erik Marchand, was created as a subtle fusion of French Brittany, Arabian and Rajasthani traditions. Hameed Khan also played with musicians such as Narendra Bataju, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Lakshmi Shankar, Chico Bouchiki(Gypsy King), Najat Aatabou, Natacha Atlas, Lo’Jo Triban, and Thierry Robin.

The thorough knowledge of his own musical tradition and his experience of the western culture, allows Hameed to choose a wild repertoire from Indian traditional music to popular songs of Indian movies. He added the sophisticated structures of North Indian classical music to deliver an unexpected performance.

After writing  this  I realize these people are somehow the lesser known mortals whose calibre and potential should not be looked down upon by calling them the Band baja wallahs.


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