He’s been called the greatest jazz pianist that India has ever produced. Whether you agreed with that or not, no one would challenge the fact that Madhav Chari was hugely talented, and his playing was frequently quite awesome. His passing in his 40s was a really sad event for his family, friends and jazz lovers in India.
In a very personal sense, I have been privileged. His parents have been my friends since I was about 19, and I have known Madhav since he was, maybe, 5 years old or so. I have seen him ‘grow’ his talent over the years. And he was indeed precocious – I recall him playing the piano as a child, at home in the presence of some of Calcutta’s finest musicians – all adults – and all really appreciative of Madhav’s skills, technique and imagination.
Madhav and I had presented a public demo-lecture on jazz, followed by a concert, in the late 1980s, wherein we’d tried to go a little bit into explaining the quirks of this music. His concerts in Mumbai that I attended were fascinating in their detail, drive and dynamism.
I had taken these pictures around late 1980s or the early 1990s – and these have remained among my favourites.
While it’s possible that my memory may be playing me false, I seem to recall having shot them on a summer’s afternoon in his dad’s apartment in Tivoli Court in Calcutta.
In a small way, let this be my tribute to Madhav.