During his India tour, Saxophonist Yuri Honing stopped by Pune for a couple of hours. Sheena D’Lima caught up with him just before he played a set at a local café.
Dutch jazz saxophonist Yuri Honing has been to India before, but still finds himself coming back. He lets us in on his ideas about art, music, India and food.
Tell us a little about your plans for this India tour?
This is actually the seventh time I have been to India but for this tour, we’ve been to Bangalore and after Pune we’ll be heading to Goa and Calcutta.
What is your impression of India and the audience?
Everything is different here. I like to say that India is the world multiplied by a 1000. There are contrasts everywhere. It reminds me of how Europe was in the 1950’s – great and tough. I especially like Rajasthan and the music they produce there.
Are you influenced at all by Indian Music?
Everything influences me – music, art and food. But yes, I draw inspiration from Sufi Music and also love Rajasthani folk music. More than a couple of decades ago, Ravi Shankar introduced Europeans to Indian music. Personally, though, I love the original indigenous sounds (breaks out into a taal to demonstrate)
We like to believe that Pune has numerous forums and platforms to experience Jazz. What would your advice be to someone who wants to start appreciating Jazz?
As with any art form, I would say start with a masterpiece and then go from there. Novices should listen to Miles Davis’s work in the 50’s or perhaps Frank Sinatra.
What about deconstructing it? Isn’t it important to understand the little parts that make up the whole?
That’s at the level of content creation. Leave that to the musicians. As a listener, you just have to feel something. Every one can have perceived knowledge if you give it time. I once took my son to the Guggenheim in New York and I made him stand in front of this painting. All I asked him to do was stand and look at it for three minutes. I didn’t tell him anything about the work or the artist. After two and a half minutes he said, “this is awesome”, sometimes that’s all it takes.
We hear you’re a big foodie… Tell us about your experience with Indian food.
I love food. It’s always a big part of planning my travel. Music is just a sidekick. (Laughs) The best Indian food I have ever eaten was in Rajasthan, where an erstwhile Maharaja introduced me to his Chef who would whip up the most delicious curries. Indian food is very difficult to cook especially in Europe not only because of the lack of authentic ingredients but because Indian chefs have a knack that’s very difficult to emulate.