Bollywood can promote Indian jazz: Musician Steve Sequeira (IANS Interview)

Panaji, Dec 5 (IANS) Strange as it may sound, Bollywood can actually promote jazz, which is all about swing, rhythm and harmony, but it is sadly killing the genre, says 67-year-old Tanzanian-born musician Steve Sequeira – a quintessential optimist.

To this end, he would even be prepared to compose for a Bollywood move – if the parameters were right.

“Bollywood culture, which is front bench entertainment, has taken over other forms of music in India. Jazz used to be quite a popular form of music here, take Calcutta (Kolkata), which was once the home of jazz; there were so many bands in the city. Park Street used to be a rocking place, restaurants playing the music, but now it’s all gone,” Sequeira told IANS in an interview here on the sidelines of the just-concluded Goa International Jazz Live Festival.

Sequeira came to India in the year 1967 and settled down in what was then Bombay, now Mumbai. Music often pulls him to Goa, where he performed at the festival.

“I see fusion between jazz and Indian music, however I would like to see more of Indian jazz which I don’t see happening much,” he added.

“Bollywood has the potentiality to promote jazz. Take (Anurag Kashyap’s) ‘Bombay Velvet’ which had elements of jazz in its movie. So more of this kind of initiatives need to come up and it is happening slowly,” he stated, further adding that he likes to hear Sona Mahapatra and watch movies of Smita Patil and Naseeruddin Shah.

Sequeira also lamented that jazz is loosing its appeal to people as other forms of music are more appreciated by listeners, especially the youth.

“It is true that jazz is loosing its importance. Slowly commercial music is taking over jazz which is sidetracked to a very limited audiences and this is its nature. People are now more fond of trance music, hip-hop,” he added

“Before other genres came up like Rock and roll, Jazz used to be the commercial music which involved dance as well. Now-a-days you won’t find that jazz anywhere. Jazz can now only be heard at music festivals or parties,” he replied.

Asked whether he would compose music for a Bollywood movie, Sequeria said: “Given a film that is serious enough and prepared to acccept my kind of music, I would love to.”

At the bottom line, what’s so special about jazz?

“In jazz, the music grows harmonically and not in a linear fashion. There is always a new chord which is being played which captivates listeners. The music of jazz talks, it describes an emotion through music. It is also about the rhythm and swing which is continuously developing and takes listeners to another mood,” Sequeira replied.

Asked whether he prefers fusing jazz with other forms of music or keeping it original, the musician said that he doesn’t mind mixing of instruments if it sounds good.

“Fusion is pure and fine as long as it is fused well. You may like to have pure jazz or you may like to have mixed also, at times depends upon the audience. Most of the songs we play are not our original songs. There are old, we are still playing those old songs, presenting them with little change. They are not old school music but very much contemporary but mainstream,” he maintained.

(Somrita Ghosh was in Panaji at the invitation of the organsiers of the Goa International Jazz Live Festival. She can be contacted at