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Taking the 'silk' route to fame

After initial training in Western classical music, LOUIS BANKS switched to jazz. And the romance of jazz continues till today, writes K. KANNAN....

``Background music in films has not arrived the way it should in India because songs still take away all the honours,'' says composer, producer and keyboardist Louis Banks, who has been spearheading the romance of Jazz for the past three decades and considers ``Barsaat'' as one of his best works in terms of background music.

``In the international scene, the situation is much different as background music is all important in films,'' says Louis. He, however, is satisfied with his Jazz promotion tours as it has given him an opportunity to play with some of the world's best artists like Eddie Henderson, Eddie Daniels, Charlie Mariano, Pam Crain and the legendary Dizzy Gillespie.

Here in the Capital recently, Louis says his fusion band ``Silk'' formed six years ago has received tremendous response all over even in countries like the Middle-East, the U.S. and Europe. ``With Shankar Mahadevan, Sivamani and Karl Peters, I have been able to create an audience for Jazz as part of a trilogy with Rock and South Indian Carnatic music,'' he says.

Born into a family of musicians, Louis was initially trained in Western Classical music. ``Jazz came much later in my life,'' he confesses, while at the same time pointing out that it has remained a passion all along even though it commands only a class audience. ``It is the music that will stand the test of time,'' he asserts.

Having given some great albums to the music industry like ``Beyond Barriers'' with Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and ``Music for Romance'', Louis is now ready with another offering ``Baptism by Fire'' again under the banner of Silk. ``In this album, we have used mridangam, a percussion instrument,'' he informs.

Apart from this, Louis is working on a new pop album in which every song will be sung by a different singer. ``We will be presenting newcomers as well as established singers,'' he says. Another romantic album is also slated to hit the market soon, he adds.

When he is not working on any album or giving any performance, his advertising work keeps him busy. ``Doordarshan is still running the signature tune I created 15 years ago,'' he says. ``Of course, `Mile Sur Mera Tumhara' became very famous but my signature tune for Delhi Police as well as the BSF is still in vogue,'' he observes.``Sometimes, you become famous for the wrong reasons. People know me more as an ad-man than as a Jazz composer.''

Louis has recently finished giving background music for a Malayalam film ``Punardhivasam'' and a recent Bollywood release ``Duplicate'' also had background music by him. More recently, he has formed another fusion band ``Vibrations'' with the eminent flautist, Ronu Mazumdar. ``I am quite satisfied with the kind of music I am doing,'' he says.

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