Ari Roland Jazz Quartet songs enthrall music lovers
* Quartet comprises Ari Roland on double bass, Chris Byars on tenor saxophone, Zaid Nasser on alto saxophone and Keith Balla on drums
By Asad Farooq
KARACHI: Ari Roland Jazz Quartet enthralled an audience while singing songs from the golden era of Jazz on Saturday night at a musical evening, held at the residence of acting Consul General (CG) of United States Jason Kight in Karachi.
The quartet comprised Ari Roland on double bass, Chris Byars on tenor saxophone, Zaid Nasser on alto saxophone and Keith Balla on drums. They were on a five-day visit to Karachi under the American Festival of the Arts, an art exchange programme being held across Pakistan by the US state department.
It was an interesting evening as audience not only experienced the bland of classical western music and local traditional Sufi music but also participated in the performance. On the occasion, the acting Jason Kight delivered the welcome address and introduced the band. He was of the view that music was a thing that every one likes. Boundaries, traditions and politics could not interrupt it. He also shed light on the Pak-US cultural relations.
The band took start with Jazz’s classical music and then fascinated audience with renowned Pakistani national song ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’. Audience joined them while clapping and singing the song. They also played ‘Hay Jazba Janoon’. The audience also joined the quartet, when the bandleader Ari Roland asked them to do so. The band and the audience jointly sang a revised English song titled ‘Summer Time’. The quartet also sang a song and dedicated it to the Jazz legend Louis Armstrong.
At the ceremony, a Pakistani artist Saima Zakir also joined the band. She graduated from Indus Valley School of Arts and Architecture and was a student of music. She performed guitar in an impressive manner that was also hailed by Ronald.
During the performance an interesting situation emerged when ‘Azan’ for Maghrib prayers started. All the band members stood silent in respect of Azan and solidarity to Muslims present at the ceremony but band leader Ronald could not feel any change in the situation nor noticed the silence by his fellows and remained busy in playing his piece with closed eyes.
Another local musical band named ‘Hillary Music Group’ also performed separately and infusion with the quartet. In the final performance, Ari Ronald Jazz Quartet performed in combination with renowned classical artists Nafees Ahmed and Bashir Khan.
On the occasion beautiful stage arrangements and colorful lights bestowed the ceremony with a vivid look.
Talking to Daily Times, the US consulate’s information officer said that the art festival was an exchange programme under which several performing artists from the US would visit Pakistan in upcoming months. She said that similarly Pakistani artists would also visit the United States. She also praised the performance, particularly fusion of Sufi and Jazz music.
Bandleader Ronald was of the view that he would like to visit Pakistan every year as he received overwhelming appreciation from Pakistanis. He thanked Pakistani people who generously welcomed their band. While talking about his band he told that he, Chris Byars and Zaid Nasser were performing jointly for around 24 years while Keith Bella was a new entry in his ban. He further said while smiling that similar to his band’s age, Bella’s age was only 24 years so he decorated a beard on his face so as that he could portray him older. He concluded that visiting Karachi again was his dream and the only thing which he wanted to bring along with himself to New York was ‘Pakistani music’.
To a question, Chris Byars said that he was enjoying his visit and if he was stuck in an elevator for six hours along with a Pakistani fellow then he would wish elevator to remain un functional. He further said that in a metropolis like Karachi, he was feeling like his own hometown New York.
Keith Balla also expressed the same feeling to be in Pakistan. To a question, he said that he was the younger most member of the band and felt honour to perform with such experienced artists. All the four members of band said that it was a nice experience to work along with Pakistani artists.
Local artists Nafees Ahmed and Bashir Khan said while expressing their views that though difference of language and music styles were hurdles for them to work jointly but they and their counterparts had developed an understanding over music. “We listened and then tried to follow each other and through such manner we performed successfully,” they said.
It is pertinent to mention here that the festival was aimed at increasing mutual cooperation in art sector and building positive image of the US among masses in Pakistan.