Promodh Malhotra sent an email that sheds more light on the founding of Blue Rhythm and an interesting insight into the Rhythm House Connection
Dear Jazz Lovers:
While we are putting together names of those who have contributed to the story of jazz in India, let us not forget an important name,Yusuf Curmally, whose family owns Rhythm House, the oldest and best business establishment that sells music in Bombay. His younger brother still runs it.
He was one of the founders, including Coover Guzder, Niranjan Jhaveri,Soli Sorabjee,Jehangir Dalal,Praful Mehta,of the group that was at the heart of jazz in Mumbai. Blue Rhythm, also published a great magazine by that name, whose attractive logo of a jazz guitarist was designed by a talented Parsi artist, Mehli Gobhai,(he has returned to India and now lives in Mumbai) whose mastery of line was as good as that of the great David Stone Martin, who graced so many jazz covers, particularly at Verve. Yusuf made possible the sale of jazz records in difficult times and
I still remember that it was at Rhythm House that I first heard(with my partner in jazz crime Sorab Mehta) the legendary John Coltrane (who was later to become a good friend) on a Miles Davis recording(‘Round MIdnight on UK Philips) that Yusuf had somehow managed to import and strongly recommended to me. Broke as used to be I bought two copies because I knew that I was going to use up the first one by constant hearings. I can still remember the smell of the sawdust that hung in the air in the new cubicles that Yusuf had just installed at Rhythm House, the first to allow us to hear LPs in Bombay before buying them. He was the quiet but important “detail” man in the Blue Rhythm group, which issued some 78 records, including one of a UK based jazz group led by a vibraphonist (Victor Feldman) who later went on to the USA to make a name for himself, whom they had arranged to come to Bombay for concerts at the Taj Mahal Hotel.
Yusuf encouraged us next generation jazz fans to indulge in our love of this strange and devilishly attractive music with a beat, by making it available in his shop. Yusuf later went on to a most successful career in business with the Ciba Group and ran their worldwide fertliser business, if I remember right, from Switzerland. He is now retired, and lives with his lovely wife, Rashida, in Basel. I am copying him on this message so that he can contribute some memories if he has the time.
Talking of Coover Guzder, my modern jazz guru, before he died, had put together one of the greatest collections of Charlie Parker recordings in the world. Because of the generosity of his wife, Malini, who I believe resides in Bangalore, this collection is now housed in the Al Cohn Jazz Museum near Philadelphia. There are so many unsung heroes in this continuing story!