If one thing was evident at Karan Joseph’s funeral ceremony at St Andrews, it was the coming together of all musicians as one. Young or old, jazz or pop, pianist or drummer, singer or instrumentalist, it didn’t matter. Karan died too young, age only 29 — but generations of musicians were there at his funeral.
I remember when I first met Karan. Like him, I had been born and brought up in Bangalore and moved to Mumbai, but to pursue a career in advertising. Through it all I kept the musical fires burning and once when I was in Bangalore, the singer Carlton Braganza invited me to jam with him at Opus, the restaurant he had started with his wife, Gina. Carlton said he would call on a young pianist to accompany me. This was a good 10 years ago.
And that was how I met this baby-faced boy with the amazing fingers. A few minutes into the sound check I knew I was playing with someone special. What a jam we had that night: from Jazz standards, to Blues to Funk, this boy played ’em all.
Over the years I played with Karan on and off. On another occasion at Opus again we set the house on fire, this time with F. A Talafaral too in the band.
When Karan first came to Mumbai we bumped into each other in Bandra and he invited me over to the apartment he was then staying at and we got into an impromptu jam. That was the thing about him. He was always ready to play at the drop of a hat, day or night. After that I invited him for a few concerts with various bands that I played with and we had a great time on each occasion.
Soon enough, it was difficult to get his time as he got increasingly busy with tours and moving on to bigger things. Every now and then he would WhatsApp me. When I posted a teaser video for our recent NCPA concert, he sent me a sweet message:
Overall, I was happy that he was doing so well, little knowing that there were undercurrents and tensions swirling behind that ever smiling face. And they claimed him before he could turn 30.
So here’s the thing: this is a shout out to young musicians striving to make it in this mad, bad world — and feeling the stress and pain of making a start.
Reach out for a senior, well known, established musician who’s been there, done that. Besides musical guidance, more important is the advice he or she can give you about life out there, which is based on real experience. A mentor will sense when someone’s not good for you, and offer you a perspective that you can trust. I, for one, am doing my bit to help some young musicians find their feet and if each of us ‘seniors’ can open ourselves to meeting and nurturing young musicians, it will go a long way in providing security and comfort, not to mention gigs and income. At the end of it, we musicians are a community and if we don’t look out for each other, who will?
Let’s do this in memory of our dear Karan. And if anybody wishes to join me in creating a ‘Musicians Mentor’ kind of Club which can meet once a month or so, where young musicians can catch up with the seniors in the field and establish connections and friendships, do reach out to me here.
Till then, let’s aim to play our music with the same purity, innocence and energy as Karan Joseph did.
Go with God, Madfingers.