As we went through the tumultuous year 2008, we realized how much Peace meant to us, how much Peace is there in Jazz! The creative runs of jazz music is invigorating to the soul, which brings about a feeling of camaraderie, friendship, relaxed nerves which are the prerequisites of peace. So, when the bomb blasts were going off with alarming regularity all across our beautiful country, India, Jazz played its part!
Before the horrific Mumbai Terror which shook the conscience of the world, little did the outside world know about how many smaller but significant blasts shook the core of India. Jaipur, Bangalore, Delhi et al! With this in the background, we came up with the concept of “Fusion for Peace” which was held during the Diwali season. Campal which is now known as the Jazz Capital (ref NDTV) as well as the “home to the largest jazz movement in the country” (ref Blender), was lit up with Diwali lanterns called akash kandeels in Hindi, our national language. A fusion of communities, of architectural styles, of various type of lanterns and of people themselves, besides music, was the hallmark of a concert that drew praises (ref articles) from far and wide. The show was thrown in free to the people since Peace is free, peace is what we all yearn for! The only entry fee that was there, was that people had to bring in their own box of candles so that everyone could light the Flames of Peace
In an amazing show of unity and brotherhood and love, Fusion for Peace brought about such camaraderie that we realized that we had a much much bigger role to play in all this. Heritage Jazz has always been about giving, but we never realized that we would have been called to do so much. And were we delighted? Of course we were, we are thankful to God that He has given a chance to fuse so much of passion, love and peace in this whole movement.
Hardly did these beautiful moments get the time to be savoured by the people, around a month later we were further shocked by the ugly terror attacks on the people of Mumbai in November. And, much as we were numbed into silence and pain over the three excruciatingly difficult days that it took to flush the terrorists out of the hotels in the metropolis, we were driven by the sheer determination not to be cowed down by the cowards who did all that. Saskia Laroo called Armando on the last day of the flush out, from Amsterdam, and firmly insisted that she was flying in from the Netherlands into Mumbai, a day after. We were humbled by that courage, and we realized that it was time that we took up the leadership to make it happen. Everything else is history, people came in to Gonsalves Mansion, and within a mere period of just 7 days, we conjured up the most passionate of jazz shows that India has ever seen. “Jazz for Peace”, again thrown in free because we wanted people of all walks to be there together, was stunning. Campal saw something quite extraordinary, people came in, traditional lamps were lit, children participated, a small prayer was said, and above all, people stood together in defiance. It was an amazing night.
Not that we were given any chance to decide what we had to do. We lost money by the bucket loads, more than a six figure went bust, but was it bust? Of course not! It was the best investment that Heritage Jazz has ever done. We were given the chance to invest in love, in peace, in brotherhood, in togetherness, and even in humility. With so much being bestowed on us, can Peace ever be far from what we do?
Heritage Jazz is now founded on this, it is the keystone that keeps us going, it is the cement that binds all that is so beautiful.
Thank you Lord, thank you for giving us the strength to do so much! And thank you all, for supporting the work that we do. May God bless us all!