Indo Jazz Fusion

We continue to look at the impact of Jazz on India and its influence on Indian musicians.  By the late 70’s various musicians from the West led by Charlie Mariano and other progressives had established far reaching roots in this genre.  “Mahavishnu” John Mclaughlin’s ground breaking work with Shakti is probably the most well known association with Indo Jazz fusion. In these videos we look at the fusing of the jazz culture with Indian music through Indian voices and perspective.

Our thanks to  Niranjan Jhaveri and the Jhaveri family for their participation. We are also deeply indebted to Ranjit Barot and Nirvana Studio for his incredible support for this film project.

Click here for Part 1 of Indo Jazz fusion

Click here for Part II of Indo Jazz fusion

Bridging the World

When Louiz Banks heard a rare 1956 recording of Brubeck and Morello with Palani Subramanium,(see Louiz , Part I) he marvelled at what is probably the earliest recorded attempt at Indo-jazz fusion.

Jazz has the ability to bridge cultures and its African roots and pentatonic underpinnings encourage rhythmic and melodic fusions ..  And this capability has seduced and attracted musicians from both India and the West into creating integration.


In the 60’s, two  musicians profoundly influenced and impacted this fusion: Two from India – Ravi Shankar and John Meyer .

Ravi Shankar’s seminal 1962 release,  Improvisations featured Bud Shank (Flute) , Dennis Budimir (guitar), Gary Peacock (bass) and the great Louis Hayes (drums).. he went on teach and and influenced Coltrane,  Buddy Rich and many others.

John Mayer grew up in Calcutta , studied both Western and Indian Classical music and went to the UK.  His pioneering work with Joe Herriott led to the Joe Herriott and John Mayer Double quintet that fused Indian, Jazz and Classical forms.

Click here to read an interesting article from adapted by Satyajit Roychaudhury from: Gerry Farrell’s book, Indian Music and the West,  Oxford University Press, 1997


In their footsteps came other Indian jazz musicians who reached out on their instruments to integrate and link these two musical cultures. Among them is the relatively unknown guitarist Amancio D’Silva whose journey is quite interesting.  Thanks to Naresh Fernandes in Bombay for introducing me to his story. I have been listening to his album Integration recorded in 1969. The website includes his biography and some of his music.

By the 1980’s Braz Gonsalves the brilliant  saxophonist and composer (who incidentally played with Amancio in the ’60s , had developed his own path into Indo-jazz fusion and along with Louis Banks formed the “Indo Jazz Ensemble” in the late 70’s.  They, and the young master drummer Ranjit Barot, bassist Karl Peters and the acclaimed Carnatic vocalist Ramamani and others merged into the eclectic group Sangam which toured Europe in the early 80’s and went on to peform at the Berlin Jazz Festival.

There are many others who deserve attention for their contributions, including the renowned percussionists Ramesh Shottam, Trilok Gurtu, singer Asha Puthli,  and of course Waterfront, the legendary Bombay based pioneering ind0-jazz-rock group (Derek Julian, Roger Dragonnette, Trilok Gurtu , Soli Dastur and others).  More well known in Europe ,perhaps than America, each of them has contributed in significant way to bridging the world.

Did Paul Gonsalves of the Ellington band record with Teddy Weatherford?

In last weeks video sequence,  Paul Gonsalves - copyright Getty ImagesAjoy Ray talked about Teddy Weatherford at the Grand. Later, Ian Zachariah told us a delightful story about Paul Gonsalves and the Ellington band.

It turns out that after moving to Calcutta from Bombay , Teddy recorded extensively while in Calcutta and liner notes from that time indicate that his typical line up (Teddy Weatherford & His Band) included: Louiz’ dad, The Nepali jazzman George Banks (real name: Pushkar Bahadur Buddhaprithi),and  Bill McDermott (tp) George Leonardi (tb) the Burmese  Reuben Solomon (as,cl) Sonny Saldana (reeds) , the swinging Burmese guitarist Cedric West (g,tb) Tony Gonsalves (b) Trevor McCabe (d) Teddy Weatherford (p,vcl)

In May 1943, Teddy recorded with an expanded horn section – adding Roy Butler and Rudy Cotton on tenor, retaining  George Banks,  Cedric West and Reuben Soloman, and adding personnel who may have well been American and other servicemen,

And here lies the mystery – Did Paul Gonsalves of the Ellington band ever record with Teddy Weatherford in Calcutta ?

First ,  there are two points of view about this line up

In the Organissimo blog, there is a post by “Chuck Nessa”

that shows the line up for the recording

Teddy Weatherford and his Band : George Banks, Bill McDermott, Pat Blake (tp) George Leonardi (tb) Reuben Soloman, Paul Gonsalves (as,cl) Roy Butler, Ruby Cotton (ts) Teddy Weatherford (p,vcl) Cedric West (g,tb) Tony Gonsalves (b) Jimmy Smith (d) Kitty Walker (vcl)
Calcutta, c. May 1943
CEI22342-1 The lady who didn’t believe in love (rw vcl) Col (In)FB40315, Harlequin (E)HQ2013
CEI22344-1 Out of this world (kw vcl) – , –

and again in May 1994, the same line up , with Bridget Moore replacing Kitty Walker on vcl

CEI22808-1 Ice cold Katie (bm vcl) Col (In)FB40396, Harlequin (E)HQ2013

However, in  Ross Laird’s extensive


those same recordings are identified with the following line ups:


George Banks-Bill McDermott-Pat Blake-tpts; ?George Leonardi-tbn; Reuben Solomon-clt-as; Roy Butler-Rudy Cotton-ts; Teddy Weatherford-piano-vocal; Cedric West-gtr-tbn; Tony Gonsalves-bass; Jimmy Smith-dms; Kitty Walker-vocals

CEI-22342-1 CEI-22343-1 CEI-22344 CEI-22345-1 CEI-22346 CEI-22347-1

The lady who didn’t believe in love (vTW) Out of this world (vKW)

and again

Includes Teddy Weatherford-piano; Willis Mullings-Bridgette Moe-vocals

CEI-22806-1 CEI-22807-1 CEI-22808-1 CEI-22809-1

Thank your lucky stars (vWM) I’m ridin’ for a fall (vWM) Ice Cold Katie (vBM) Goodnight, good neighbour (vBM)    Col FB40395 Col FB40395 Col FB40396

So there we have ,two sources, pointing to the same recordings , one identifying a Paul Gonsalves on tenor, one excluding his sax !

The next question is  – Was this the Paul Gonsalves of  Ellington Band fame ?

See below, in response, the illuminating comments to this post from the two jazz fans who are living repositories the story of jazz in india – Jehangir Dalal and Promodh Malhotra

The jazz scene was Calcutta…

..says Louiz Banks, in a recently posted video sequence… I’ve edited a sequence that recounts some wonderful stories from the days when Calcutta was swinging and syncopating .. Calcutta boasts the first recorded jazz in India, a ‘hot’ tune featuring Al Bowly when he played at the Grand Hotel in 1926. Interestingly India’s jazz history features two famous hotels , the Grand in Calcutta and the Taj in Bombay.  My conclusion is that without these two ‘characters”   jazz in India would not be the same.

The opening audio for this sequence is from a collection of rarely heard tunes (originally cylinders and ’78’s) from a compilation called “Jazz and Hot Dance in India – 1929-1946” ..Among others, it features Al Bowlly, Teddy Weatherford, and Cricket Smith, and in all probability , Louiz’s dad – “Georgie” Banks.   Warren Pinckney, in his essay , Jazz in India – Perspectives on Historical Development and Musical Acculturation (1989) credits finding this collection as the impetus for his research. Thanks to Naresh Fernandes for unearthing and sharing a copy.


Click here to check out the the time when the Jazz Scene was Calcutta