21 June 2018 07:24 PM

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ASHEESH MAMGAIN | 11 JANUARY, 2018

Jazz, As an Expression of Life: ‘It’s Okay, Not To Be Okay’

Jazz, As an Expression of Life: ‘It’s Okay, Not To Be Okay’


Spontaneity, vitality, improvisation and freedom of expression, that is what Jazz is all about. And yes, it is about swing too. A Jazz and RnB vocalist and song writer, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya (22) is smitten by Jazz music. Says she, “If to Jazz music you add meaning full lyrics about the real life, then you have a potent combination. It is a form of expression we really need today to reach the young masses.”

A well-known artist in the Indian Jazz scene, having performed in all the major stages in India, she is all set to represent Indian Jazz music in the up-coming Panama Jazz Festival. The festival will start on January 14, 2018 and Sanjeeta would be performing there with a group called ‘4 on a Swing.’

Sanjeeta likes to keep her music real. By real she means that the songs she writes and sings, should be about real issues that effect the individual and the society today. Specially the urban youth. Says she, “As an artist I cannot separate my music from the life around me. I have to react to all the problems and injustice that goes on around me.”

Her songs are about the life as it unfolds today. “I see a lot of youngsters fighting depression, isolation, alienation and loneliness. The kind of life we are leading is taking a heavy toll on us.” One of her songs penned by her titled ‘You Shine’ addresses the issue of suicides among youth.

It’s okay not to be okay,
Doesn’t take your light away,
You shine on.
It’s okay to draw a line,
It’s alright to speak your mind,
You shine on.


She recently released her single titled ‘I will wait’ from her up-coming EP called Yatra to be released in March 2018.

She adds, “As a people, we have stopped appreciating the little things and joys of life. My Grandmother had very few possessions, but that never came in the way of her finding happiness.”

Sanjeeta is a graduate from the prestigious Berklee College of Music, Boston. In the last few years she has become a popular name in live gigs scene in India where she juggles a number of genres. In the process she explores the world of jazz, RnB, Soul, Bossa nova, flamenco and Balkan folk music too.

Performing to a live audience is her strength, no wonder she is popular in live gigs. She has performed at various venues in India (Delhi Jazz Festival and Goa Jazz Festival), and pubs in Delhi including The Piano Man Jazz Club, Turquoise Cottage, Hard Rock Café, Depot 48 and a solo show at India Habitat Centre.

Sanjeeta has also performed on the international stages such as in Boston, including Boston Symphony Hall alongside A.R. Rahman, Berklee Performance Centre, Magnetic Fields Festival and in Spain. Says she, “Performing to a live audience is a challenging thing. You feel vulnerable as you open your inner self to be scrutinized as an artist who has created something from her heart or deep personal experiences. It’s difficult but then the appreciation is also instant. Which I love.”

Lately she has been playing as a session artist with various acts around the country, teaching as a vocal coach at One World College of Music, Gurgaon. Ever eager to venture into new musical territories she is also working on a Bulgarian folk choral project titled, ​Voicestra.

Sanjeeta began her musical journey learning Hindustani Classical music under well-known classical singer Sunanda Sharma for 8 years. She grew up at her Delhi home, loving and admiring jazz and RnB legends such as Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James.

“I love Jazz as it is all about creativity and improvisations. Something similar to Indian classical music where improvisations is an important aspect,” she says.

Talking about her Berklee School of Music experience, where she went on a scholarship, she says, “It was a great experience. The best part was that I was able to learn music from the best in the field. Interacting with fellow students was also a great experience.” At Berklee she was able to learn and interact with some huge contemporary names in music such as Grammy winner Jazz artists Gretchen Parlato, Esperanza Spalding, Herbie Hancock and John Mayer among others.

Jazz music does have a niche and dedicated audience in the country and young musical talent such as Sanjeeta are the ones keeping the jazz beat alive. She is of the opinion that in India, interest among the youth for Jazz music is on an upswing.

Says she, “India does have a strong jazz tradition and from what I have seen while performing live, it is growing. But I must add here that I have seen much more understanding and appreciation for Jazz music in the Southern part of India and Mumbai.”

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