By: Rajeev Raja
The year was 1986. And our band Colossus in Bangalore had built a pretty good reputation for itself in the Jazz-Rock space.
But never in our wildest dreams did we anticipate what was to happen next.
To our absolute delight we were invited by the organising committee of the first ever Jazz Yatra in Bangalore, to open the festival as it was the tradition to kick off with a local band.
Needless to say we had millions of butterflies fluttering and dancing merrily in our stomachs as the day dawned bright and clear.
Performing on the same stage as us were some giants of Jazz such as the famous pianist Kenny Baron and we were pinching ourselves to make sure we weren’t in a dream. The sound check went off without a hitch and and we were nervously waiting for the curtains to go up.
Suddenly we heard a commotion backstage. An Australian Jazz band, whose delayed flight kept them from being present at the sound check, were complaining in typical Aussie manner with a few cuss words being thrown around.
Curious to see what their problem was we gathered around and discovered what their grouse was. The piano was tuned a semi-tone or half note lower from concert pitch. The rest of the band were refusing to play as their material was fairly complex and transposing on the fly to compensate for a differently tuned piano was a virtual impossibility.
It was at this moment when things hung perilously in the balance, that a remarkable thing happened. The leader of the band, who was also the pianist, stepped up and said in a quiet voice: “Easy lads. Let’s not lose our sense of humour. I’ll transpose as we play”.
I was stunned. This was true leadership. Calmness in adversity. And later while watching them play a magical concert I realised that one’s approach to life defines how well one participates in it.
Through the years as a creative director in advertising and as a musician performing in India and abroad, whenever I’m faced with an impossible situation and everybody around is losing their cool, these words always play in my ear:
“Easy lads. Let’s not lose our sense of humour”.
This blog is about my musical experiences over the years and the different life lessons I’ve gleaned from them.
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