I say hello, Dolly... well, hello, Dolly; it is so nice to have you back where you belong,” sang veteran trumpeter jazz-man from the city, Roque Vaz, in a raspy voice during the sound-check before his gig on Sunday. With his rendition of Louis Armstrong’s Hello Dolly as a teaser, Vaz made a comeback after a hiatus of 12 years with a quintet, at the Pune Jazz and Blues Club’s monthly get-together at Shisha Cafe.
The quintet comprised David Mansey on drums, Aubrey Dias on keyboard, Ashdin Barucha on guitars, Shashank Bhatt on bass and Vaz on trumpet and vocals. Mansey, Dias and Barucha, who play with a jazz-funk act called Impressions, joined Vaz. He then roped in Bhatt, an old friend. “I first intended to play with Roque a year ago,” says Barucha, adding, “Frankly, I wanted to play with him to improve my jazz playing. I met him at a party and asked if we could jam. Soon, Roque, Aubrey and I started jamming together.”
Vaz says he had been busy attending to matters in work and life in the last decade. “I didn’t find the time to play music. Back then, I also couldn’t find people with the same interest in jazz. A lot of people were playing rock and pop, but that isn’t my cup of tea. Not that I haven’t played those genres, but jazz is my first love,” says Vaz, adding that he has noticed that jazz has seen a surge among the youth. “These kids are very dedicated, and David is one of the best and an old friend. Ashdin and Aubrey are also great motivators,” adds Vaz.
Barucha and Dias were instrumental in getting Vaz back on stage. Dias’ father Rico Dias, a saxophonist, played with Vaz back in the day. Barucha’s father and Vaz are friends. “Roque is a perfectionist and will not stand a sloppy gig. He gets on stage only when everything is in place,” says Barucha. “We kept coaxing him to get on stage and when he did, we put up a tight set. Roque was holding us together in a way and each one backed the other during the improvisations,” says Dias.
Mansey, an old colleague of Vaz from their High Society days, improvised creatively with the tempo, complemented well by Bhatt’s bass lines, which locked with Mansey’s drum beats like gears. “I do standards with Impressions, but with a