Rocky is the man who flagged off the jazz scene
you thought there's not much jazz in Pune, all
that can be said is "man, you're still living
in the past". Cut to June '97. Homi Bhatena
of the Jazz Garden fame got this bright
idea of putting live acts together. And Rocky
Vaz was born again. Literally. Rocky picked
up his trumpet after a gap 20 years. He says,
"I practised hard like mad for months,
thanks to my dear wife Eileen and good friend
Jehangir." He got his chops straight
and emthralled all those jazzy folks. Yes he did.
Just like Satchmo. Sparks flew, and put Pune back
on the groovy path to jazzdom.
a man who flagged off the jazz scene in Pune,
Rocky is a real down to earth person. Starting
out on violin and keyboards at a very young age
under his father, he soon started blowing horn
in an all-wind instrument in his school (St.
Vincent High School) band. Playing trumpet
in big brother John's band in 1961, Rocky soon
started his own thing - the Vaz Combo,
a sextet with trumpet, tenor sax, double bass,
piano, drums and guitar. The Combo rolled out
the ever greens like Cherry Pink and Apple
Blossom White and Besame Mucho at the
Rajendra Singhji Institute (RSI).
Rocky, who always considered music more as a
hobby than a profession, got married in 1975,
took up a job and dropped the horn. But for now,
his wife Eileen saved the day and got him back
to groove. Rocky now heads the quartet Temptations,
with a double bass, keyboards and his son
Michael on drums. And very recently Rocky started
playing in a new outfit High Society
with members of other Pune bands Karma,
Catch 22 coming together.
Mainly doing Dixieland - Louis Armstrong,
Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, Rocky
says he's not much into the later progressive
kind. "But I can do pops, and I don't
mind playing with anybody, anything as long as
I enjoy doing it," says Rocky with a
twinkle in his eye.
And when not holding his trumpet, Rocky just
takes off for fishing with his family or goes
for a hike or may be just plain cooking."Life
is an adventure, enjoy it," he says.
So, happily we can say that jazz in Pune is in
good hands. Jazz is here to stay alive and kickin'.
Text and Photographs by Harikrishna