This is a show that is surely bound for larger stages and I feel very lucky to have experienced it up close in the intimate Nexus venue.

Western jazz has long been interested in Indian classical and Carnatic music but Sydney saxophonist Matt Keegan is interested in blending Indian folk music, principally from the Baul tradition of West Bengal, with contemporary Australian jazz. The result is music with a wonderful earthiness, which is joyful, at times playful, and full of surprises. The band radiate the enjoyment of their craft and their respect for one another and their different cultures and traditions.

Featuring Baul singer Raju Das with his astonishingly beautiful and powerful voice accompanied by the khamak (a drum with 2 strings plucked with a large plectrum), Deoashish Mothey from Darjeeling on dotara, esraj, guitar, percussion (and his more subtle but equally lovely singing), Gaurab Chatterjee who is a drummer in a rock band in Kolkota who also played the dhubki (a Baul hand drum), Australian jazz bass player Steve Elphick, and Matt Keegan on saxophone.

The result of chance meetings of people drawn together by their love of music, The Three Seas is a cross-cultural project which has been developing over the past ten years. Five years on from those first encounters they released their first album, recorded inside an Haveli; an Indian castle. Last year was the first time that the group appeared on an Australian stage and they made their second album here.

The venue at Nexus allowed the audience to appreciate the dexterity and skill of these musicians. The choice of Lyndon Gray and his Carnatic Jazz Project as support act was inspired. Drawing as it does on the Carnatic tradition of Southern India, a style more familiar to western jazz audiences, it prepared the audience well for the show that was to follow. The rendition of Charlie Parker’s Ornithology and the saxophone playing of Jason McMahon were particularly special.


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