MARATHI VOCALIST, PIANIST LEADS JAZZ,
The Manishamusic Beat brings contemporary blend to IAGB celebration
INDIA New England News, February 15, 2002
By Mark Pickering
BURLINGTON, Mass. ó A contemporary band, the Manishamusic Beat, was one of the plum performances at a Boston-area event for India's Republic Day.
The band spotlights Manisha Shahane, who played piano and sang an eclectic trio of songs, including a traditional Indian tune. In the main, the band's music reflects jazz and folk-rock styles.
"I grew up performing in productions like this in Virginia," said Shahane, referring to the Republic Day show. "I wanted to reach out to a South Asian audience," she added, commenting on her interest in performing there.
The Manishamusic Beat, which features pianist and vocalist Manisha Shahane, played recently at the India Association of Greater Bostonís Republic Day event.
The India Association of Greater Boston organized the Jan. 26 event, which marked the 52nd anniversary of India's constitution. A wide range of ethnic and other community groups supported the event, which drew about 1,000 people.
With Shahane, singing and lyrics often take center stage. "I'm a vocalist primarily. I sing jazz at different venues and always write my own stuff."
Now, the Manishamusic Beat is set to play the first Thursday of every month at the Zeitgeist Gallery in Cambridge. The trio of experienced musicians also includes bassist Blake Newman and percussionist Jerry Leake of Natraj, a band that mixes jazz and Indian styles.
"I want to have different acts come on board" for the Zeitgeist engagements, including poets, she said.
At Manishamusic's February show there, Red Velvet slide also performed. That rock group features India-native Parul Vakini and guitarist Chris Brenne, who graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Shahane said both her father and mother performed when she was growing up, although it was not their profession. She took on the family interest.
In fact, it was her father who, noticing a newspaper item on Natraj, suggested she look up Leake. The Manishamusic percussionist is a tabla player, like Shahane's father.
Shahane has also performed with Jack Lee & DiverCity, a reggae band, and the Black Sea Salsa Band, a 15-piece group.
One number that Manishamusic performed at the IAGB event was "Mamachya Gaawala Zaauya," or "Let's Go to Uncle's Town," a Marathi folk song. Shahane's parents are Maharashtran.
Shahane had the audience clapping to the rhythmic song and making a "chooo" sound at points, to im itate a train.
The band also performed "Shyam Rao-chi Mulgee." That song, sung in English and Marathi, featured a piano solo. The band's final number was "Willows," with its focus on Shahane's lyrics and the topic of "growing up."
Leake graduated from the Berklee College of Music in 1982, where he studied percussion and jazz vibraphone with Gary Burton. It was at Berklee, Leake said, that he learned West African drumming and became interested in what is now called World Music.
He went on to study Northern Indian classical style in Pune, India.
He has accompanied such musicians as Ali Akbar Khan, George Ruckert and Warren Senders. He co-founded the group Club d'Elf and performs with Antigravity.
Leake now makes his living by teaching and playing music.
Among other things, Manishamusic's Blake performs regularly with the Jeff Robinson Trio. At the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, that band plays music as poets recite their work.
For more information on The ManishaMusic Beat, see www.manishamusic.com on the Web.