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Ravi Coltrane's vibrato swayed in the Gateway of India breeze as George Duke's piano played chords harmonically deep as the sea. Al Jarreau emulated everything from a car horn to a steam generating machine and Earl Klugh caressed fragile nylon string figures. Mumbai watched, listened, gasped, oohed and whistled.

The VH1 Jazz Masters concert, in collaboration with the US State Department and BET Jazz, was held at the historic venue, meant for a king and queen, and the jazz royalty courted it graciously.

"It's a little bit like New York, but a whole different world," Klugh, who does not look 51, said about Mumbai the day before, sitting by the Taj hotel poolside.

'You guys honk the horn more than New Yorkers,' Jarreau joked on stage. 'I see that here it's common,' Duke declared before launching into a blistering, funk-driven Rush hour road rage. Ravi let rip, uncharacteristically because if the rest of the concert was any indication, he is more of an airbrush painter. Of course, it could be exhaustion.

"We arrived at 4 am, spent two hours looking for my luggage, arrived at the hotel, had a very long practice, and here I am," he had said, with a half-eaten dinner in front of him, the day before. The group had had a 27-hour journey and a flight six hours late.

"This is the kind of place you want to come to and not work," he said about India. "Work is priority so you don't have the time or luxury to go to different places."

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Jazz greats come to Mumbai

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Reportage: Sumit Bhattacharya
Photographs: Jewella C Miranda
Design: Uday Kuckian



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