I just got back from covering the Sharq Taronalari festival in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. That's where I met the Welsh group "Jadu" who were performing there. I had no idea what to expect when the group's music was first described to me, and admittedly I do have an initially suspicious response to musical hybrids. There are too many self-conscious ensembles cobbled together from different musical influences pushing themselves as credible fusions, (don't get me talking about the misappropriation of the term "gypsy" music!). At this point they must all prove themselves to me.
As it turns out, Jadu ("magic" in Hindi) is a band that has come together naturally and as a result the sound is completely cohesive. Pete Stacey on soprano sax and flute is a solid jazz musician who has studied the tonalities and rhythms of Indian music with the masters. Mumbai born Rajesh David is a velvet voiced crooner whose renditions of the material give it much of its gravitas. Kelly Smith on tabla Bryan Smith on tamboura are a son and father who have been playing -- and meditating -- together since 'way back.
Paul Uden on guitar rounds out the ensemble with sensitive rhythm and chords. His guitar work within this setting is completely about the instrument as a vehicle for the music, and it is a shame that the microphone on my camera did not pick up more of his sound... but that's as good a reason as any to check out the band’s latest LP "Aberaeron Sunset," where you can really hear his contribution.
There was no way I was going to pass up videotaping them in a perfect place like Samarkand; as a crossroads of religions and cultures it is an uncanny match for the music. When the opportunity presented itself to do a shoot in the gorgeous setting of the courtyard of Tamerlane’s Mausoleum, we jumped. It was a sunny, hot day and as we taped the band, a small group of folks gathered around and listened attentively. It was a magical session. But then again, "Jadu" means magic.
About the music: Kabir was a great mystic poet saint in India in the 15th century. Rajesh sings Kabir's words: 'When the mind is immersed in the Divine, there are no words, only Silence. All saints and wise men say your God is within you, then why are you looking outwards?'
For more about JADU go to jadumusic.co.uk
For more of Michal's original music videos click here.