Dashvara, a four piece band of diverse and well-studied musicians, has been playing together since 2005. Drummer Brian Festa trained classically in Laos, bassist Christian Ferri is studying jazz at UNCA. Greg Norris, who plays flute and saxophone, says the band has been evolving for three years, solidifying the right lineup and the exact sound they're after.
A bit of background: The name Dashvara comes from Gadga Dashvara, a Buddhist Bodhisattva who is said to have embodied the love and healing power of music. "Music is powerful because of the way we live our lives," says Norris. "Not the other way around. We are not a part of the music scene, we are a part of the human scene." The group is dedicated to its music and plays to embrace collective consciousness through that music.
With that as the goal, Dashvara's recent Hookah Bar show began with Middle-Eastern music drifting from the huddle on stage left. A stand-up bass, flute, a pair of tablas and sitar all collaborated to produce easy, mellow licks. The music was fitting for the Hookah Lounge — so much so that if it hadn't been a Saturday night show, Dashvara could have been the house band, playing in the back shadows.
The Eastern sound lasted only one set, though, because they've only recently started collaborating with eastern style of music. Changing direction for the second set, the band showed off its true essence and broad range of talent. Changing direction for the second set, the band showed off its true essence and broad range of talent. Contrast to their tight cluster they spread across the room, ready to plug in. Guitar, bass, drums and saxophone wove in and out of each other, following a precise jazz rhythm that kept the musicians in line. Festa's drumming was the most decisive element in the music, letting the other instruments experiment and drift to borders, but always providing the steady beat to which they could return.
Dashvara demonstrated an intricate creativity. The guitar and saxophone hovered on the outer edges, dancing in impromptu solos. The bass and drums knew when to pick up and slow down, keeping the group in line and showing that this was tightly rehearsed material.
The music could be called jazz-funk fusion. Tight and formal at times, it had all the elements of jazz, leaving room for personal exploration. Breaking from structure, the music would pick up and the bass would kick in. The sax pulled back, and hips were shaking to the funk that had entered the house. Dashvara swayed the crowd, pulling people off shishas and chairs with a sound to which they could move, and sent the audience back into heavenly flavored smoke when the band let off, and moving back into that smooth cool jazz.
Unfortunately, there were too few dancers, and many in the crowd were too busy picking their tobacco flavors to really tune in on the music. Though they were the featured band, a lot of people were in the lounge for a Saturday-night smoke, rather than to see a Saturday-night band. Still, in sync and creative, Dashvara left an impression on those who stayed until the end.
Learn more at myspace.com/dashvara