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 www.congosquarejazz.com 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 www.amanciodsilva.com 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.