The Surya Nepal Jazzmandu 2012, which started last Nov. 2 and ended Tuesday night here with a big finale participated in by world-renowned jazz musicians, had put Nepal on the international jazz map.
The jazz festival, now on its 10th year, featured international musicians that included Tito Puente Jr., son of legendary Tito Puente, king of Latin jazz, and 11 time Grammy nominee Marlow Rosado along with other artists from across the globe who came and shared their music and inspired budding Nepali musicians.
Travel agencies have started including Jazzmandu as an attraction in their package tours of the Himalayan nation. For many tourists visiting Nepal at this time of the year, Jazzmandu was a pleasant surprise as they witnessed a jazz extravaganza with a Nepali touch.
Yanik Shrestha, festival coordinator, said that Jazzmandu has been running strong for the last 10 years. "It has promoted the jazz culture among Nepali musicians, expanded their musical horizon and served as a catalyst for the development of a new generation of young musical talents," Shrestha said.
As "the biggest jazz party in the Himalayas," Jassmandu has served as a platform for budding Nepali musicians, particularly the band "Con-Fusion," which won the title of the Outstanding Band at the 'Jazz for the Next Generation Music Competition' organized on the first day of the festival. "From being an underground jazz band, we were noticed by the national press. Jazzmandu has given us a great platform. It has been a great journey," said 19-year-old Ashesh Rai, a member of "Con-Fusion." Rai plays the tabla, a pair of small hand drums attached together, used in Asian classical music.
Along with winning the competition, Rai was adjudged the " Outstanding Musician" and "Con-Fusion" got to perform alongside international artists during Jazz bazaar, one of the events of Jazzmandu where visiting and traditional artists performed a marathon of jazz and traditional folk and classical music at Gokarna Forest Resort, a popular tourist resort in the valley.
The members of "Con-Fusion" also received a private workshop from an international artist of their choice, as part of the prize for winning the competition. Rai, along with "Con-Fusion's" drummer Rishav Acharya, shared time with Thai band "Rootman's" powerful drummer Pong.
"He taught as the gist of it and made us realize that we are speaking the same language, the language of music," Rai said.
The founders' idea behind Jazzmandu was to bring quality jazz to Nepal along with spreading the message of peace through music.
In Nepal, where tourism is a major industry Jazzmandu has managed to transcend cultural boundaries. Over the course of ten years Jazzmandu has emerged as a venue for musical interaction and cultural exchange.
Usually artists come to a country but after they perform, they leave. "But with Jazzmandu it's different because the artist's stay in Kathmandu allows for an opportunity to get to know people, interact with local artists and aspiring musicians," one local music enthusiast said.
"We might not understand each other's language. But music is a language everybody understands," said Samir Chettri, Jazzmandu' s media coordinator who is also a member of the band, "Cadenza Collective."
Apart from concerts and jamming sessions Jazzmandu also focused on organizing educational music programs, workshops and clinics for students around Kathmandu every year.
With an aim to promote local music education and to provide budding musicians with a venue where they can showcase their musical skills, various jazz workshops were held for aspiring musicians on Nov. 6 at the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory in Jhamsikhel of Lalitpur District.
The visiting musicians shared their experiences and talents, from song compositions to the business aspects of the music world; all spectrums of music were covered.
Local and international musicians who participated in the just- concluded jazz extravaganza were all looking forward to event in the coming years. While the festival is popular mostly among jazz enthusiasts--both national and international--Jazzmandu has managed to catch the attention of the general public and every year it was able to reach out to more and more people in Nepal.
Outstanding Musician Rai rightly put it when he said: "The festival has taught us how to respect and love our country more.