Saybhan Samat – from jazz to therapy music


Big band sounds in the 50’s and 60’s were usually heard at weddings and other events when any of the military bands were in attendance. They played a great variety of Jazz, Latin, and dance music tracks that entertained the audiences.

Then came the many dance bands that were formed by such greats like Papa Menezes, Harold Seneviratne, Peter Prins and Sam the Man.

Initially, Sam and Saybhan performed for a band called The Esquire Set. Later they joined up with Tony Fernando’s band, The Jetliners, to form the Jet 8, dishing out dance music to the revelers.

Saybhan Samat was a true Clarinet and Sax player and Sam teamed up with him, once again, to form the band “Sam the Man & his Gaylords”. They played at many events and dances in town and dished out a fresh brand of sounds that delighted every music lover. Gabo Pieris played drums for them until he left to form Gabo & The Breakaways.

Later Saybhan also broke away from Sam and formed his own band, “Saybhan & the Tempo”. During the latter part of his life Saybhan gave up his music and took a more serious path into religion and journalism, dabbling in political writing and activism. His writings were very much sought after by readers of the local news media.

Towards the last phase of his life Saybhan went back to music of a different kind. He formed a band with his wife (keyboards) and family and a few others which was called “Saybhan and the Society Band”. They chose to plays a special brand of therapeutic music designed to provide relief to mental patients, sickly people, depressed prisoners, injured soldiers and alcoholics.

The band went from place to place and played, especially, for children living in orphanages, residents in elder’s homes, school children and also at social occasions such as weddings and get together.

The band included Louise Anandappa, daughter of the inimitable and immortal Gerry Crake, herself a very talented musician, Roy De Silva, a very talented musician and a key board specialist and guitar specialist as well as the outstanding Darlene Perera on guitar and vocals.

Saybhans contribution to jazz music and the alleviation of suffering to disabled and homeless people was amazing.

He passed away in 2012. May he Rest in Peace!

Fazil Sameer

A jazz drummer who followed in the steps of Tom Menezes. Having moved to Saudi Arabia since 1979, Fazli enjoys his retired life by teaching drumming for school kids.

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