Mumbai Mirror

How would you describe the camaraderie that you share with Herbie Hancock?


What was it like playing with the Freedom Band – I ask you because Zakir is part of it, of course. How did you vibe with him and what are your thoughts on the meeting point between jazz and Hindustani classical music?

Zakir is amazing. The meeting point of music is always between one musician and another – the way artists interact is always unique. It’s impossible to generalize about “jazz” and “Hindustani classical music.” Each musician is a universe unto himself.

You’ve performed and founded so many bands – how do you choose your band members and put bands together? Do you have a favourite among these?

I’m in love with and proud of all of the bands that I have ever put together.

What’s it like being a bandleader? What are some of the things from performing with Miles Davis that have made their way into your own style of leading a band?

Miles brought the best out of his musicians by allowing them and encouraging them to be themselves and create their own way of playing and interpreting music. This is the way I like to make music with other musicians, and it’s also the way I like to be treated when I’m playing with another musician. The Music, in this way, can become very creative.

Does working with symphony orchestras require a different sort of a discipline – how did you manage to arrive at it?

Interpreting through-written scores definitely is a skill unto itself – it can take quite a bit of practice and preparation. Improvisation is spontaneous and doesn’t take “practice,” only doing.

What do you do when you’re writing a composition and get stuck? How do you shake off the writer’s block?

I take a walk and look at the environment.

How is it being on the road for weeks on end? Your last Europe tour was 6 weeks – how do you unwind on the road?

I try to sleep well and get good nutrition. I like to take walks to experience the city I’m in, even if it’s for short time. It can be relaxing to take a good walk and look around.

You’ve also mentioned how solo shows can get to be an isolating experience – how do you deal with that?

It’s not so bad. I get a chance to practice the piano a lot and try new things each night. It’s a great workshop for me.

What is your routine before a show? Do you have a pre-gig ritual?

I file my nails, wash my face and brush my teeth 🙂 I sometimes have a cup of tea.

How often do you change your solo set list – what should we look forward to in India?

I put my solo sets together differently each night. It’s hard to predict what I will present. I like to feel the audience and the environment before I decide what to play. I will surely play some standards, some classical pieces and also play some compositions of my own.

Are there any Indian musicians that you’re looking forward to meeting here and working with in Mumbai or Delhi?

I’m looking forward to meeting some of my old friends and making a lot of new ones.

What’s on your playlist at the moment? What are you listening to?

I’m choosing tracks from live performances of mine to make a series of live recordings. I will have a new solo recording to offer the fans when I play in Mumbai and Delhi.

Thank you for your questions and your interest.