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"No brass band? No wedding!!!"

Interview with Hameed Khan – Director of Jaipur Kawa Brass Band and Musafir

After a great opening performance at the Ballroom stage we spoke with Hameed Khan who is the director of the colourful Rajasthani bands Jaipur Kawa Brass Band and Musafir. During the concert Hameed went so crazy in his tabla solo that his turban fell off. We interview him in the backstage area, while techno beats from the Metropol scene thunder in the background.

"When you have played at Roskilde Festival you will never forget it again", Hameed starts, still moved by the great response from the audience.
"I really mean that I never have seen a public like this one. Roskilde has its own feeling. Already after 10 minutes people shout, are happy, and get into the music."

"I find the public here at Roskilde very sensible. Even if we play a slow clarinet piece, they really pay attention to what is going on. People are very open-minded here, and I know that, because this is my second concert here. First time was with Indian group Musafir, for which I am also director, and that was a great experience too. As for me I never feel I am playing at a rock festival, I feel I play at a festival where people really love music. I felt today that the people were moving. Like they were feeling the movement of life."

The idea of an Indian brass band may sound odd to westerners. It was the British colonizers that brought the instruments to India, and Hameed tells us that the history of brass bands in India is very influenced by the British politics. During the colonisation it was a tough time for the horn blowers. For instance, they didn’t have the right to play on the streets. The music that was allowed was the holy songs, and in general it was only allowed to play for the royal people, the kings and the British. You couldn’t make any events or any fun. Then they started playing in the street for the common people, especially at weddings. And, as Hameed says: "if there is no brass band, there is no marriage".

"Our repertoire is a mix of everything", Hameed explains. "Some of the songs come from Bollywood films, some we compose ourselves and others are based on classical music. Our music is full of improvisations, and especially the drumming in Jaipur Kawa Brass Band is an Indian invention. In India we love the drums – the rhythm. In Europe they love harmony."

Most people who have heard any kind of India music will notice the complex rhythms and virtuoso percussion playing that often characterize it. I notice that it is admirable how Indian the musicians Jaipur Kawa Brass Band make the British drums sound. Hameed Khan, that started out as a tabla player, tells us enthusiastically about the importance of the rhythm in India.
"In India we really love rhythm, and all kinds of percussion. We have 60 different kinds of percussion instruments in India. Tabla, dholak, danthal etc... When we play a concert we like to improvise parts of the rhythms, like this drum that you sing "“dun di-ki-da di-ki dun di-ki da da". We also have several combinations of the different rhythms. We like to take it as far as we can, into the deep of the rhythm. For us the sence of the rhythm is what it is all about. The planet has its own rhythm. When you play, that is also rhythm. And from one vibration to the other, like when we play and somebody dances, that is rhythm too."

Jaipur Kawa Brass Band stayed at Roskilde Festival until Sunday and performed with the cute dancer and fabulous fakir on various places on the festival ground, which draw huge crowds.

View Norwegian photographer Terje Søgjerds pictures of Jaipur Kawa Brass Band performing at the festival ground.

Published July 10th 2004


The Fakir of Jaipur  Kawa Brass Band

The dancer of Jaipur  Kawa Brass Band

Fakir and dancer of Rajasthani Jaipur Kawa Brass Band.

Foto: Sasa Mackic (@)



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