Fusing jazz rock with the mysterious Indian culture of the Baul has resulted in the intercultural ensemble The Three Seas.
“Baul is not just music, it’s a religion and a way of life,” the band’s saxophonist and artistic director Matt Keegan said.
“It’s mysterious, but basically the Baul musicians are wandering minstrels and they sing songs and spread their message through their music. It’s very different to Indian culture, they’re like outsiders.”
He started the band 10 years ago after a trip to India where he met musicians from West Bengal, listened to them play and thought a collaboration could happen.
“I was just fascinated by the instruments and the way they sung, their timbre and their sense of groove,” Keegan said.
“I wanted to find out as much as I could.
“I got to go to people’s homes and listen to Baul musicians, I’d jam along sometimes, but mainly just listen.”
The band has one Baul musician and includes two other Indian musicians as well. The way they fused music from Western and Indian cultures was by being open, and by having found band members with the right connection to make such a collaboration work.
“We want it to work. It’s the intention behind it that makes it good,” Keegan said.
He has returned to Indian many times, with the band scheduled to tour there next month, and does so due to his desire to explore the depth of the music and culture in the country.
“Here in Australia our Anglo culture, our culture since 200 years ago when white man arrived, it’s only 200 years old,” he said.
“We’re building our culture, slowly. Unfortunately we didn’t make the most of understanding the culture that was originally here.
“In India you can feel the 1000 years of musical heritage, it comes from a long development. I love Australia, don’t get me wrong, but I was blown away by that.
“I think Australian musicians want to build themselves and define themselves as musicians. Sometimes you have to look elsewhere to find yourself.”
The Three Seas will perform at the Murrah Hall, which is at 2989 Tathra-Bermagui Rd, on Sunday, November 11 from 3pm. Tickets are $25/$15.