From the Dakotas to the Piet Gorecki Trio | Sunday Observer

From the Dakotas to the Piet Gorecki Trio

After something like 30 or more years it was a surprise to see Milroy Peter walk into the jazz session to enjoy the artistry of our musicians. His contemporary in the early years, when Milroy was playing in Sri Lanka, guitarist Mohan Jayasuriya’s introduction to Milroy “his bond with the bass was inevitable’ couldn’t be more true.

Today Milroy Peter is domiciled in Bremen and continues to be a bassist playing with the Piet Gorecki Trio.

I’d like to turn back the pages of time and ask you to clue us in as to when and how your music career began for you here in Sri Lanka?

“I think I have to take you back to the 60s, and that’s a long way back, but I sure like to share it with the music lovers. I was a student of Wesley College, Colombo and it was here that my career as a bassist commenced. In the 60s I played with various bands here in Sri Lanka. I started off with Dakotas. This was the time when the Shadows, the Ventures and the Rolling Stones were dominating the pop hit charts and we were a quartet with the late Joe Jayasuriya on guitar, Mohan Jayasuriya on rhythm guitar, Junior Weerasinghe played drums and I was the bassist. I played with various bands like Roger Menezes & The Webs. Roger as you know is the son of Miki and Cynthia Menezes, he has how moved over to Australia. The other members of the band apart from Roger who played guitar and keyboards were Darryl Fereira – guitar, Ramsay Karan – vocals, Junior Weerasinghe played drums and once again I was the bassist. After playing with Roger & the Webs, I joined the Fireflies who were then playing at the Coconut Grove, Galle Face Hotel. The group was headed by Milroy de Silva – lead guitar, Darrel de Silva – rhythm guitar, the late Mohan Sabaratnam was the drummer, while Mohan Wimalasuriya was on keyboards and I was happy playing the bass guitar, for the group. We backed many popular artistes at the first Sri Lankan Talent shows”.

If I remember right did you not play with Indra Raj and his group and how did that come about?

“Yes I joined Indra Raj and the Graduates which saw Indra Raj on lead guitar and the personnel were Felix Leanage – guitar and vocals, Stephan Manricks – keyboards and vocals, Junior Weerasinghe was on drums and vocals too, and I played bass and sang as well. This was a tight group. Indra Raj got an assignment to play at Bangalore and subsequently we were fortunate to get a contract to play at the night club ‘Blow Up’ at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Bombay. By this time the popularity of the Graduates was well established and we were invited to play at Bremen as the Topaz and we left for Germany. It was a proud moment for us, as we played on the same stage as The Equals, Gary Glitter, Mouth & McNeal and we were also contracted to play for dances”.

Germany was a musical haven for our musicians then, and no doubt Indra Raj talented as he was, would have been invited to play gigs in other countries as well? Did this happen?

“Yes as a matter of fact we were signed up for a tour of Norway, Austria and Germany and Indra Raj changed the name of the band from ‘Topaz’ to Serendib. There was a change in personnel as well. Shiran Munasinghe joined us on drums, we had Maxwell Fernando on keyboards, Bandula Mendis played guitar and I was on bass guitar.

Those were happy days and we learnt a lot about musicianship and keeping to time schedules. It was at this time that I married my German wife Ruth and we are now blessed with two children.

During this time, you mentioned earlier, that you played dance and popular music with various bands in North Germany and you obviously played the bass guitar, now you have switched to the double bass, does it mean you have changed your music as well?

“Yes, you will be happy to hear that I have switched to the double bass and am playing jazz with the Piet Gorecki Trio. That’s why you are seeing me here today! The Piet Gorecki Trio they perform in Bremen as well as in Hamburg. I play both the double bass and the bass guitar, and the music is smooth jazz. Keyboardist Piet Gorecki writes the music and I compose my own bass lines.

“We perform mostly at jazz clubs and at festivals like Jazzahead in Bremen. We recently recorded a CD titled ‘Second Life’ and we invited a saxophonist to perform with us. There are also life video clips on YouTube which can be viewed under Piet Gorecki Trio. As a point of interest to my musician friends I play a Fender Jazz Bass 73 model, Marcus Miller Bass made by Sire and a Double Bass made in Romania. My amplifier and box are from Mark Bass”.

Indra Raj hasn’t come back Sri Lanka’s way for a long time now and we hope when he decides to come back for a performance; you will join him too with Shiran Munasinghe. Till then we’ll keep our fingers crossed and wish you all the best in 2019!