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April 27 2019
The Revolver Club
Written By The Revolver Club - April 27 2019
The unconventional sense of temporality has decisively defined the Mumbai-born musician’s 35-year-long career. Puthli first gained international attention in 1971 performing jazz – a form that encourages musicians to play with rhythm, to glide on top or below the beat rather than hitting it predictably in the middle. Her sultry vocals on avant-garde jazz musician Ornette Coleman’s Science Fiction album that year earned her the prestigious Downbeat critics poll award alongside Ella Fitzgerald.
Puthli who now lives in Palm Beach in Florida, has come a pretty long way from Hollwood Gully in Matunga, where she spent her early years, and Perry Cross Road in Bandra, where her family later moved. In the life and her music, she said, she’s “enjoyed the juxtaposition of time and space and cultures”. It’s a process that started early. As a child, Puthli studied Hindustani classical music with Pandit Laxman Prasad Jaipurwale as well as opera with the legendary Mumbai teacher Hyacinth Brown. But in her teenage years, jazz became her obsession and since she couldn’t find a teacher, she took her lessons from the radio, tuning in religiously to the Voice of America.
She was among the first international recording artists to infuse Indian elements into her tunes, subtly embellishing her pop vocals with Hindustani music ornamentation. Yet, chances are, many listeners in the US and India know very little about Asha Puthli.