But what about 2002 and how it all came about. Enter Chhedup Bomzan and Susan Sellars, and here’s how they met and how Jazzmandu became a reality.
Susan’s father Neal Sellars came to Nepal in ‘87 and trekked with Ms. Renchin Yonjon when she was running her own trekking company. Renchin and Neal got on well, he a jazz aficionado and she the wife of Gopal Yonjon a flautist and classical musician . Neal returned a number of times and each time met with Renchin and Gopal (since deceased). In ‘97 Neal brought his wife, and three daughters (now in their early 30s), as it seemed impossible to keep them away from Nepal any longer. By this time Susan, the eldest, had started working in travel and had a need to discover Nepal for herself. On this family trek Susan met Chhedup Bomzan, Renchin Yonjon’s nephew, and discovered his love for music coincided with hers. Susan visited again a number of times and met the group Cadenza and was here when ‘Upstairs’ opened as a jazz bar in Lazimpat. (And how ‘Upstairs’ got its name is a great story. Cheddup’s mother has the grocery store downstairs. His friends would ring up and say “Chhedup Chha?” and her only answer would be “Upstairs”, so the name of the bar became ‘UPSTAIRS’.)
Neal Sellars, the co-ordinator of the Palmer Street Jazz Festival in Townsville Australia, gave Cadenza the push they needed when he invited them to play at the festival in OZ in 2000 - and there they met Don Burrows the celebrated Australian flautist and saxophonist. Don, now in his 70s agreed to come to a festival in Nepal if Susan Sellars would organise one. So JAZZMANDU MARCH 2002 became a reality, and many of you will remember the Patan Museum event with Cadenza, Don Burrows and Manose Singh on flute, and a number of other international musicians.
Now in 2003 and gearing up for Jazzmandu, Susan has hired Amanda Dinsdale an event management consultant from Brisbane to orchestrate the project, and with Amanda too busy working to meet us, I could imagine the work she has to do to get this major event in Nepal off the ground.
Susan’s and Chhedup’s organisation is called UPSTAIRS IDEAS; the event is co-promoted by NTB and PATA; and the major sponsor is ROYAL STAG WHISKEY with two other co-sponsors. The venues read like a Who’s Who of resorts and the like, and the artists are coming from New York, Amsterdam, London, Oslo, Melbourne, Bombay, Brisbane and Paris. With their mission ‘ TO PUT KATHMANDU ON THE INTERNATIONAL JAZZ CIRCUIT’, UPSTAIRS IDEAS has invited world renowned sound engineer Hugh Webb and his partner Annie, and David Bentley a travel writer to spread the news.
Susan Sellars has a huge vision for Nepal and JAZZ, and other projects and events are in the pipeline. Susan says she has learnt how to delegate and this time is keeping her hands of most things, letting others paddle their way through the labyrinth of negotiations and procedures required to put on a program with a budget of 85 Lakh or more. Her team are wonderful. This year they hope to make better profits to be able to support their charities of PAM (Prisoners’ Aid Mission) and MIK (Music Institute of Kathmandu). This year three of the events are reasonably priced, particularly for the young Nepalese mad about music, with Thamel and Pokhara Lakeside at Rs300 each, and Gokarna Forest at Rs600.
The program is about to be finalised, and brochures and advertising will happen shortly. For enquiries contact Susan Sellars 428971, Chhedup Bomzan 416983, Navin Chhettri 427257, and email : firstname.lastname@example.org . Some venues are still to be finalised but Gokarna Forest Golf Resort on Saturday 1st March and Patan Museum on Wednesday 12th March are sure things, and those who remember 2002 will surely be there.
Already there is lots of info on the website www.kathmandujazzfestival.com - just look it up. And the March ECS magazine will highlight the whole festival program for those who haven’t already booked their tickets. Don’t forget - UPSTAIRS is open 7.00pm to 9.00pm each Wednesday and Saturday evenings with an entry fee of just Rs200/-, in Lazimpat beside the Him Thai
Restaurant (and sort of opposite Bluebird Supermarket), and of course above Chhedup’s mum’s grocery shop!
And of course Cadenza Collective at Shangrila Hotel Lazimpat every Friday night.
In a bygone era, there was no such thing as a hotel in Nepal. Travelers would stay in a home...