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52 Jazz Videos In One Year - The Work Ethic Of Jazz Singer Radha Thomas

For a performer of any discipline, not being able to perform in front of a live audience results in soul crushing emptiness. But jazz singer Radha Thomas beat the pandemic blues with the amazing feat of releasing as many as 52 videos in one year — an average of one song per week.

For a performer of any discipline, not being able to perform in front of a live audience results in soul crushing emptiness. 

But jazz singer Radha Thomas beat the pandemic blues with the amazing feat of releasing as many as 52 videos in one year — an average of one song per week.

Thomas did everything to make this happen.

From finding musicians that she had never worked with before, to arranging each tune, to arranging the look of the video, directing the sound and video engineers (both of whom are in South America) right down to using walkers, crutches, canes, chairs and upside down stools as rigs, to create an ersatz studio at her home.

A walker, a ladder, crutches and bric a brac make up rigs for lighting

Each video was an exercise in multilateral coalition; and educating fellow musicians on things other than music. 

Jazz musicians devote themselves to their cause because jazz requires a considerable degree of chops; skill, technique, a deep technical knowledge of musical structures and imagination determine how “good” a jazz musician is and how well they can improvise on call.

Video technique is not in any one of their skillsets.

Some of them had no clue how to arrange themselves in a frame. So it fell to Thomas — who had become fascinated with making videos — to send them scans of scribbles or instructing them verbally on just about everything.

And then, she had to arrange the music.

Arranging a jazz tune means deciding how the song starts i.e., the intro, who plays the solos and for what length, what the tempo and the groove (the rhythmic pattern) will be, how the accompanists will play behind her, and finally, how the song will end.

And then, recording the song, with musicians each recording their parts remotely was another challenge.

In classical music — or any other music where each musician is told exactly what to play — the song has been scripted.

Jazz is music played by improvising live. The musicians always listen to each other and feed off the other to play accents, fill-ins and such. 

The worst challenge for a jazz musician is to play without the ability to listen to the other musicians in the song and yet sound credible. This is particularly true when accompanying a singer — in jazz, musicians support and complement what the singer does live, such as accents and emphasis.

So Thomas had to find a way to construct each song by providing each musician the ability to play as though they were live and recording in the same room.

Layer by layer, she traded scratch recordings of herself and of the rhythm section instruments, together with soloists' approaches and by a process of collaboration over WhatsApp, voice mails and Zoom, each song came alive.

Once recorded individually, each musician’s audio and video recordings had to be synchronized perfectly with the others’ recordings.

Thomas found her collaborators in the form of both audio and video engineers based in Buenos Aires in Argentina. Some were done in India and Russia.

Radha Thomas found musicians from many countries to accompany her, including from the USA, UK, Russia, Italy, Japan, Dubai, Estonia, Poland, Argentina, Brazil, Iceland and India, variously playing guitar, drums, bass, vibraphone, trumpet and piano. 

The line up once included a konnakol beatboxer that Radha Thomas used for her original composition, “Would I Lie”.

In another video, she accompanied herself, using the voice in parts to replace the bass and rhythm with the video in triptych. 

Having built a lifetime of singing jazz to enthralled audiences in the capital of jazz, New York City — Radha Thomas, now divides her time between New York and Bangalore, India.

Thomas had been particularly busy of late and her recent work included launching an album with her principal musical collaborator, the talented pianist Aman Mahajan. Bangalorean jazz enthusiasts were treated to concerts in venues around the city including Bangalore International Centre and Jagriti. 

And then the pandemic happened and all venues were shut down.

Thomas found herself marooned at home in Bangalore.

At first, the novelty of the lockdown — in a time when the city of Bangalore was not suffering any particular, visible consequence of Covid — was quirky. Thomas even wrote a tune about how loud the birds had become. But as the pandemic wore everyone down, her compositions took a darker theme with one that talked about how she missed seeing her son and daughter-in-law, who live in New York City.

Still in demand for appearances, she did live performances online by event organisers, House Concerts and the newspaper, Times Of India.

“Performing live to an iPhone camera has its charms,” Radha Thomas told Explocity, “but it’s unnerving when you finish a song with a flourish to a deafening silence, instead of applause.”

While the bleakness of the pandemic depressed many, it triggered a defiant response in Thomas. Refusing to be kept down, she fought the odds and decided to release songs as videos.

One thing led to another and Radha Thomas threw herself into this new world, almost wide-eyed in learning new things about making these videos. The harder the task, the more she rose to it.

The result? The amazing feat of single-handedly creating and releasing 52 videos in one year.

The first video that went up was in June 2020, Thelonius Monk’s famous tune, “Round Midnight” as a guitar-voice duo with Bangalore-based jazz guitarist Ramjee Chandran.

The 52nd video that went up in June 2021, was a jazz standard, “Fools Rush In” as a piano-voice duo with New York based pianist, Tomoko Ohno Farnham. 

Only fools, Radha Thomas wrote in the description of her YouTube video, would rush into a project like this.

Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/RadhaThomasJazz

THE MUSICIANS AND CREW

NameFromInstrument
Akshada KrishnanBangalore, IndiaPiano
Alexandre RosenblatBuenos Aires, ArgentinaSound mixing
Alexandre ViannaSao Paulo, BrazilPiano
Aman MahajanBangalore, IndiaPiano
Bartosz Mikolaj NazarukWarsaw, PolandDrums
Ben AmstutzBoston, MA, USADrums
Edgars RugajsTallinn, EstoniaGuitar
FerBuenos Aires, ArgentinaDrums
Franco DonadioBuenos Aires, ArgentinaGuitar
Jake NaugleMapleton, UT, USADrums
Joe GiglioNew York, NY, USAGuitar
Larry CorbanNew York, NY, USAGuitar
Lautaro Luna BinderBuenos Aires, ArgentinaVideo Editing
Maciek SzczycinskiUstanow, PolandBass
Mauro SerenoCavriana, ItalyBass
Michael MolloyLondon, EnglandPiano
Morgan WallbridgePhiladelphia, PA, USAVibes
Oleg MaximovRostov-On-Don, RussiaGuitar
Pasha KarchevskyNovokuznetsk, RussiaTrumpet
Pavel ErshovMoscow, RussiaGuitar
Ramjee ChandranBangalore, IndiaGuitar
Reduane AyoubDubai, UAEGuitar
Sahil WarsiBoston, MA, USABass
Shivraj NatrajBangalore, IndiaKonnakol / Beatboxing
Tomoko Ohno FarnhamTenafly, NJ, USAPiano

THE 52 VIDEOS AND LINKS TO EACH

Angel Eyes jazz standard
Michael Molloy, UK, piano, Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass
https://youtu.be/EMBJeL9c-uk

Autumn Leaves, jazz standard
Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass
https://youtu.be/OLL8c_DSG4c

Bluest Kind of Blue, jazz standard
Franco Donadio, Argentina, guitar
https://youtu.be/RXum8gpNLeE

Body & Soul, jazz standard
Akshada Krishnan, India, piano
https://youtu.be/K5wbQheHoIg

Born To Be Blue, jazz standard
Larry Corban, USA, guitar
https://youtu.be/AG4MXWHjhO0

But Not For Me, vocalese for Chet Baker solo
Edgars Rugajs, Estonia, guitar
https://youtu.be/Seep3OPAsDE

Corona Kinda Crazy, jazz original
Tomoko Ohno Farnham, USA, piano
https://youtu.be/Q-ZKXLqY5I0

Cry Me A River, jazz standard
Pavel Ershov, Russia, guitar
https://youtu.be/G6Ecloktd90

Dance Me To The End Of Love, jazz standard
Michael Molloy, UK, piano | Maciek Szczycinski, Poland, bass
https://youtu.be/qiP-vs1NuH4

Double Rainbow (Chovendo Na Roseira), jazz standard
Franco Donadio, Argentina, guitar
https://youtu.be/10uEcPaDWDs

Fever, solo performance
Radha Thomas, vocals, bass, hand claps
https://youtu.be/2UWx41QyA3U

First Signs Of Ennui, original (with Ryo Kawasaki)
Pavel Ershov, Russia, guitar | Maciek Szczycinski, Poland, bass | Ben Amstutz, USA, drums
https://youtu.be/wdrrq0eg6DU

Fools Rush In, jazz standard
Tomoko Ohno Farnham, USA, piano
https://youtu.be/ynPPxgaoucw

Giant Steps, jazz standard lyrics Radha Thomas
Pavel Ershov, Russia, guitar |Maciek Szczycinski, Poland, bass |Bartosz Mikolaj Nazaruk, Poland, drums
https://youtu.be/SXRUkbzIle0

Good Morning Heartache, jazz standard
Tomoko Ohno Farnham, USA, piano |Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass
https://youtu.be/OTGM5ElwStU

I Fall In Love Too Easily, vocalese Chet Baker solo
Ramjee Chandran, India, guitar
https://youtu.be/lkk_lfiQ5f4

I Hope That One Day I Will See You Again, original
Ramjee Chandran, India, guitar
https://youtu.be/piLyHLZmDzs

I Remember Clifford, jazz standard
Joe Giglio, USA, guitar
https://youtu.be/I7DhqVqCWVs

I think It's Time For You To Go, original
Pasha Karchevsky, Russia, Trumpet |Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass
https://youtu.be/f3L7jY56NA0

I’m A Fool To Want You, jazz standard
Pasha Karchevsky, Russia, Trumpet |Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass
https://youtu.be/ea3-N8_Uxbo

If I Should Lose You, jazz standard
Alexandre Vianna, Brazil, piano
https://youtu.be/h9BFihSS84s

It Could Happen To You, vocalese Chet Baker solo
Ramjee Chandran, India, guitar
https://youtu.be/5rUmz8jzQhg

It Might As Well Be Spring, jazz standard
Morgan Wallbridge, USA, vibes | Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass
https://youtu.be/ZM9PAy661ik

Jailer, original
Aman Mahajan India, piano | Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass | Ben Amstutz, USA, drums
https://youtu.be/7whb5UEUcMM

Just Friends, vocalese Chet Baker solo
Aman Mahajan India, piano | Sahil Warsi, USA, bass
https://youtu.be/njE39prJZBQ

Load Shedding, original: Aman Mahajan | lyrics: Radha Thomas
Aman Mahajan India, piano | Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass |Ben Amstutz, USA, drums
https://youtu.be/cH09WG9RrRo

Lonely In New York, jazz standard
Michael Molloy, UK, piano |  Maciek Szczycinski, Poland, bass
https://youtu.be/G6Ecloktd90

Love Me Do, (Beatles) jazz arr: Radha Thomas
Michael Molloy, UK, piano | Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass
https://youtu.be/dClTdLsXJm4

Love On The Dance Floor, original
Tomoko Ohno Farnham, USA, piano |Maciek Szczycinski, Poland, bass | Jake Naugle, USA, drums
https://youtu.be/88vyGV6HZN8

Menina Moca, latin jazz
Franco Donadio, Argentina, guitar | Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass |Fer, Argentina      drums
https://youtu.be/Xx7xAlZB8Qg

Midnight Sun, jazz standard
Aman Mahajan, India, piano
https://youtu.be/lbGs48VFH1s

My Echo My Shadow and Me (We Three), jazz standard
Alexandre Vianna, Brazil, piano
https://youtu.be/LBPS4Kzl1hk

My Foolish Heart, jazz standard
Tomoko Ohno Farnham, USA, piano
https://youtu.be/HGQetPsbSa4

Peel Me A Grape, jazz standard
Pavel Ershov, Russia, guitar
https://youtu.be/vafK5UdXnYY

Polka Dots & Moonbeams, jazz standard
Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass
https://youtu.be/ISFeY4r8Kxg

Round Midnight, jazz standard
Ramjee Chandran, India, guitar
https://youtu.be/H_uLwU2Ryf8

Snakes Alive, original
Aman Mahajan, India, piano
https://youtu.be/6W-_cK0DJVY

So What, jazz standard
Pavel Ershov, Russia, guitar | Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass
https://youtu.be/DisIS4kSiFs

Stormy Weather, jazz standard
Edgars Rugajs, Estonia, guitar
https://youtu.be/Yv-iY4LYmPo

Summertime, jazz standard, arr: Radha Thomas
Aman Mahajan, India, piano
https://youtu.be/lmAhgglcX1c

That Brew, original
Ramjee Chandran, India, guitar | Tomoko Ohno Farham, USA, piano
https://youtu.be/OxdrGxMBUso

The Birds Outside They're Getting Louder, original
Ramjee Chandran, India, guitar
https://youtu.be/W2Lc6I-SJj8

There Will Never Be Another You, vocalese Chet Baker solo
Oleg Maximov, Russia, guitar
https://youtu.be/PSvo3Zx62pE

Trinkets & Things, original Ryo Kawasaki | Lyrics: Radha Thomas
Tomoko Ohno Farnham, USA, piano |Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass
https://youtu.be/Bd-Abb1TsuA

Tumble, original
Tomoko Ohno Farnham, USA, piano
https://youtu.be/lnKbJjCZcno

Twisted, jazz standard
Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass
https://youtu.be/Av0TN22x-_Q

What Stress, original
Reduane Ayoub, Dubai, guitar
https://youtu.be/u0cd2x6hbTk

Winter Is Here, original Ryo Kawasaki | Lyrics: Radha Thomas
Tomoko Ohno Farnham, USA, piano |Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass |Ben Amstutz, USA, drums
https://youtu.be/CEYyIwfTaEI

Would I Lie For You, original
Shivraj Natraj, Bangalore, Konnakol Beatboxing | Sahil Warsi, USA, bass
https://youtu.be/VT--e099oug

You Don't Know What Love Is, vocalese Chet Baker solo
Michael Molloy, UK, piano | Mauro Sereno, Italy, bass
https://youtu.be/JHLxyTH8K8Q

You Go To My Head, vocalese Chet Baker solo
Aman Mahajan, India, piano | Maciek Szczycinski, Poland, bass | Bartosz Mikolaj Nazaruk, Poland, drums
https://youtu.be/D4xQtakJat8

You've Changed, jazz standard
Aman Mahajan, India, piano | Sahil Warsi, USA, bass
https://youtu.be/88ZcZKRUVHI

 

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