Bassist Pol Belardi’s Luxembourg based band Urban 5 takes on a groove-driven, exciting blend between jazz, soul, hip-hop and electronic music. Drawing inspiration from jazz giants such as James Brown, J Dilla, D’Angelo or Erykah Badu, Urban 5 are sure to make you move your hips at the Goa International Jazz Live Festival 2017 to be held at the Stonewater Eco Resort, Santeram beach, Goa on December 9 and December10.
- What has been the biggest learnings for you from musicians such as James Brown, J Dilla and D’Angelo? How has their music influenced your group’s style?
Groove! If there’s one thing that these musicians changed or (re)defined, it’s the conception of rhythm in a band context and the notion of groove. James Brown set the standards with the ‘real’ musicians of his famous rhythm sections, J Dilla pioneered in the creative use of electronic devices to intentionally introduce micro-timing deviations in his beats, and D’Angelo found a way to combine the two, real playing and producing, in his music.
The impact of these musicians on my own group led us away from the evenly subdivided and pre-destined rhythmic grid towards more open and elastic consideration of musical timing and grooves.
- Your group’s music is known to make people dance? Do you think jazz musicians must ensure that people must get on the floor?
Jazz music, in its very traditional form, used to be a style with the primary intention to make people dance. Nowadays, this task is usually rather assigned with electronic dance music. Nevertheless, I think there is something primordial in all kinds of music, which is the rhythmic foundation. Rhythm is always easier to grasp than melody or harmony. And I like to speak to as many people as possible. So even if I want my melodies to sound interesting in a subtle way and if I try to explore as much of the harmonic world as possible, I try to never lose the contact with the ground. And this is achieved by wrapping all the musical acrobatics up in a strong and rooted rhythmic beat. In the end, I don’t think that jazz musicians should force themselves to make people dance, but I think by giving more attention to easily understandable elements in music, such as groove and rhythm, you’ll be able to reach more human minds than if your music needs extra explanation in order to be understood.
- How critical is singer Mara Minjoli to your group’s sound and feel and why?
I cannot imagine this music in the same way with anybody else but Mara. Here natural voice and affinity, her personality, her appearance on stage as well as her musical knowledge add an extra dimension to the band. But I think what I like most about her is her honesty.
- Any interesting anecdote or memorable experience you would like to share from a recent tour?
The last tour we had with Urban Voyage, the full 11-people band, was actually quite an adventure! We were supposed to play 2 concerts at Südtirol Jazz Festival in July with lots of great bands and musicians playing. Everything went well. Though it rained the ambience of the festival was great. So were the staff, stages and musicians.
- What does a tour of India mean to you? Any specific message for Goan audiences?
It means in the first place discovering a new region of the world that we haven’t seen before. One of my biggest pleasures in life is travelling to all sorts of places because of my music, and India always waked my interest for this purpose. So I am very happy that I can finally make this adventure come true. My message to the Goan audience: please come to our show and make us share our music with you, so we’ll turn this into a special night of the festival and have a great time together.
(Tickets and exclusive Festival Packages for GIJLF 2017 are available on the Jazz India Circuit www.jazzindiacircuit.com)