Jazzing Up The Classics

The Le Chartier-Moqadem duo, in the midst of their whirlwind tour of the country, takes time off to chat about their music, the tour and what the future holds.

Jamal Moqadem and Eric Le Chartier, talking from the erstwhile French colony, Pondicherry, must find the strangely familiar sights of the promenade and the snatches of conversations in Provencal French refreshing in the midst of a gruelling India tour. “It’s been very tiring,” admits Moqadem. “We have been here for only a week and have already given six concerts. It’s really a pity that between all the performing, packing and the hotels, we really haven’t had a chance to really experience the country.” Le Chartier too is aching to be out on the streets, soaking in the cultural, spiritual and everyday life of the country.

He is also pleasantly surprised by the reception their concerts have been getting in the cities. “They were such astute and attentive listeners, especially during the first part of the concert where we play Western Europe classical music by French composers which many might not be very familiar with here.” Their rendition of American jazz classics like ‘In a Sentimental Mood’ (Duke Ellington), ‘My Funny Valentine’ (Richard Rogers) and the like were received exceedingly well. “They absolutely loved it,” exclaims the pianist Moqadem. “I guess jazz really enjoys a wide patronage here.”

Both musicians, initially trained in the classical genre, had quickly fallen in love with improvised music, especially jazz. Now they play both Vittorio Parisi and Charley Patton with equal panache. The Lyon National Conservatoire, where they were students together, provided the perfect backdrop for their collaboration. Being open-minded about music, Moqadem hopes to return to India later to explore workshops and exchanges with Indian musicians. “I met a sitar player recently after one of the performances and we had a very enlightening conversation. There is much we can learn from each other musical cultures.” And the international tours are just starting for the duo. Having already performed in Germany, England, Spain and Morocco, they are all set to head South-east this year to tour Hong Kong and Indonesia.

“What I love about playing abroad is a chance to share my music and meet people from different walks to life united by nothing but the love of music,” Moqadem smiles.

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