During his days at a student at S. Thomas’ College, when every other student was listening to pop music he was completely into Frank Sinatra’s Singing. As a 12 year old he decided that Frank Sinatra was his favorite singer, and to date he still is. As an addition to his singing, he decided to follow playing the Saxophone after listening to the Horn Solo in one of Sinatra’s tracks ‘I get a kick out of you’.
His musical taste took another turn as he started listening to Jazz music where the Saxophone was much frequented. By the time he was fifteen he had the first encounter with the Alto sax as he started playing it in the College Western Band. By this time, he had learnt his maj 7th /min 7th diminished and augmented chords on the guitar and was distorting all the pop songs to his signature by substituting those original chords with what he knew. His close friends insisted and encouraged him to take part at ‘TNL Onstage’ one of Sri Lanka’s premier contests for bands and solo performers.
This week’s feature focuses on a special individual who turned his dream and passion to reality with his love for Jazz music and the saxophone. This particular guest is none other else than Dr. Gananath Dasanayaka, Jazz artiste and saxophonist, who runs the band ‘En Route’ who is ready to cater to any audience and keep them on their toes with exclusive Jazz music. Gananath took his friends advice and participated at TNL Onstage, performed a slow jazz ballad and also Blue Suede Shoes for which he was selected as the winner of Onstage 2005.
This brought him recognition, and his Journey of Jazz began to proceed. Later on he began performing at local hub of Jazz every first Sunday of the month at CR & FC (Jazz unlimited) and playing Tenor sax and singing all the standards he wanted to sing and senior musicians who played there gave him all the encouragement and guidance he needed. He started listening to Stan Gets, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Lester Young, and David Sanborne to name a few. His first professional contract was to play at the Mt.Lavinia Hotel Sunday Jazz Brunch. Thereafter, he played at the Cinnamon Grand lobby for 8 years from 2010 to 2018. Currently he plays with his Jazz quartet, ‘’En Route’’ every Thursday night at the Hilton Colombo Lounge and Bar. Over the last 4 years he has done 4 public shows, namely 4 volumes of the great American Songbook, tribute to Sinatra, Christmas with Enroute, and Beatles go Jazz.
This time , he’ll be Dishing out some classics of Engelbert, Tom Jones and Neil Diamond , and of course a few Sinatra tunes in his own style which he has developed as his signature for the past decade. Amongst the tunes that will be played during the ‘’Night of song and Holiday Cheer’’ would include the very popular hits such as ‘Just help yourself’, ‘Quando’ , ‘Song sung blue’, ‘Man without love’and his special rendition of ‘Thank you for the music’.
A guest feature of the night would be the Thomian western band. ‘Christmas with Gananath’ will kick off at 7.30 pm on December 20 at the Lionel Wendt Theater. Be there to enjoy the Jazzy festive spirit! Gananath joined us for a chat this week to tell us about his progress in music and also his lineup of events.
Q: What inspired you to enter the music field, especially Jazz?
As a 5-year-old the Sound and the look of the saxophone! Probably that did not change.
Q: What can you recall of your first performance?
Singing ‘Hello Dolly’ as 4-year-old Montessori concert.
Q: Who is your main source of inspiration when it comes to music?
Q: Do you play only jazz tunes? Who are the jazz artistes you would admire?
No. Not only jazz tunes. Pop tunes from Beatles, CCR, Englebert, Tom Jones and such like music etc. However, we change the rhythms and tempos and arrangements of the pop tunes Jazz artiste: Harry Connick Jnr, Jamie Cullum, Diana Krall, Jane Monheit, Louis Armstrong, Stan Gets, Duke Ellington, David Sanborne, Ben Webster, etc.
Q: Tell us a bit about your band, ‘En Route’.
Members: Dilip Seneviratne - piano
Shobi Perera - bass
Charith Fernando - drums
In one sentence all are fabulous musicians and fantastic people. We gel like no other band in Colombo both on and off stage.
Q: Are there any particular venues and events where your Jazz band performs?
Hilton Colombo lounge and bar Thursdays nights.
Q: What’s your most special performance in your Jazz career?
I consider every performance special including our contracted lobby gig.
Maybe if I were to single out one “Tribute to Sinatra” in 2015 will be indelible in my mind.
Q: Can you recall a special moment in your music career?
Once Nerry Fernandez, a famous pianist, told me at the cinnamon grand lobby “Son, you made me happy” when I asked why he said “when you were singing you reminded me of Frank Sinatra in the 1950s”.
Q: How do you find the response from the local audience?
Mixed responses I’m certain; unfortunately, we hear only the positive feedback.
Q: What is your perspective of the music industry in Sri Lanka? and do you think jazz has got its proper recognition here?
I think we need education. Hope we will have a music school, just like we have a law school and medical schools.
That would ensure professionalism to an extent in the industry. Jazz is definitely growing.
Q: Looking back at your career, how do you feel?
Feel absolutely fortunate. Being able to enjoy something you do passionately is a gift that I will ever be grateful to.
As every one of us has a shelf life would like my date of expiry to be far away.
Q: Tell us about your upcoming concerts.
I will be performing on stage at the Lionel Wendt Theatre this christmas season. The show has been titled “Christmas with Gananath for a night of sòng and holiday cheer”.
I hope to dish out some classics of Englebert, Tom Jones, Neil Diamond and of course a few Sinatra tunes in his own inimitable style which he has developed as his signature over past decade.
That’ll also include some popular christmas tunes which will include let it snow, santa claus is coming to town, white christmas etc. You’re in for a treat with some saxophone solos in some of the christmas tunes which you will find jazzier than the rest.
This time Ramesh Nonis (former cardinal’s outburst guitarist) and Maxie Peters (veteran double bassist) both of who have played with me in three of the four “Great American Song book” shows of the past. Music will be arranged by the young talented keyboard player Madhawa Perera and that fabulous drummer Charith Fernando will accompany us too.
Amongst the tunes that will be played during the ‘Night of Song and Holiday Cheer’ would include the very popular hits such as, just help yourself, quando, song sung blue, man without love and ‘Thank You for the Music.’
A guest feature of the night would be a special performance from the Thomian western band.