Meet the Advisors: Dr. Shope and Lucknow jazz

Dr. Bradley Shope is a  friend of this project and one of our active historical advisors.

Brad currently teaches in the Division of Music, Theory and Ethnomusicology at the University of North Texas .   While researching his treatise “THE PUBLIC CONSUMPTION OF WESTERN MUSIC IN COLONIAL INDIA” (published August 2008, in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies) his work took him to Lucknow, where he learned that there was a very active western music culture. In the course of interviews with residents in Lucknow, it became apparent that jazz had been part of the popular culture in Lucknow, as early as the 1930s.  In his continuing research, he learned that jazz has a history in India stretching back to the late 1910’s !.   He cites H.J. Collett who identifies Ken Mac as the first popular jazz musician, “noting that in the early 1920’s he filled 40 engagements a month, playing as many as 30-35 numbers a session’. Many years later in 1947, Ken Mac would perform at the Independence function at the Karachi Club, attended by M. A. Jinnah and other senior leaders of the new country

Brad’s research work has been significant and in a later treatise ‘THEY TREAT US WHITE FOLKS FINE’ -African American musicians and the popular music terrain in late colonial India, he did groundbreaking research in how African American musicians significantly expanded the presence of jazz in India.

“Arriving in India in the mid-1930s seeking performance opportunities and an improved quality of life, African American jazz musicians were active in expanding the presentation and consumption of jazz and Western popular music. Finding appeal in the power and success that African American musicians commanded, Anglo-Indian and Goan musicians also performed jazz in cosmopolitan centres throughout India. In Bombay, Goan musicians integrated Western popular music into local live performances in cabarets, and eventually into some early film songs. This article outlines the role of African American musicians in increasing the terrain of Western popular music in India beginning in the 1930s, and concludes by speculating on the artists’ influence on early Bombay cabaret songs and the ‘hybrid’ music of the early film industry.”

Please share your comments on this post , and in particular, help us with any photos or other memorablia that you might have that relates to early jazz scene in Lahore, Lucknow, or Bangalore.

If you would like to read Brad’s fascinating research , please contact him at   Thanks Brad !


Desperately seeking Calcutta

Thanks to friends of this film all over the world, we have accumulated over 700 photos and other documents that will create authenticity and enrich the archival feel of the film. Many are from personal collections including that of Jehangir Dalal, Naresh Fernandes, Nakul Mehta, Niranjan Jhaveri, musicians scrapbooks, materials from Dr. Brad Shope, the personal collection of Micky Correa and others. Their is a tremendous amount of archival material from Bombay but sadly very little from Calcutta..This is hard to understand, particularly since Calcutta had a thriving jazz culture for so many years, and indeed was for a while the center of India’s jazz scene.

We are desperate for archival photos that show jazz bands and audiences at the Calcutta landmarks including The Golden Slipper, Prince’s , the Winter Garden, Moulin Rouge, The Blue Fox, Mocambo..etc. We also need progams, brochures, adverts that reflect the jazz environment of the time.  Especially valuable would be old audio, in any format , that we may convert.  Without Calcutta archival material, the film wont be complete.

Reimagine the clip The Jazz Scene was Calcutta with appropriate  interiors or shots of archival material that could enrich it

Please share this and feedback on any sources that might be able to help us.

Mystery Recording with Teddy Weatherford

Yesterday I made new friends of the film at the renowned  Institute  of Jazz Studies

Dan Morgenstern ( Ed Berger and others viewed the trailer and provided some amazing archival material including Downbeat magazine from 1945 and 1946 that referenced the jazz scene in Calcutta !

Dan produced a rare 78 recording, on the Columbia label, made by the Gramophone Company of India, in Dum Dum , Calcutta. He believes that this was recorded by Teddy Weatherford in India and features a “hot Trumpet player”.. .

The mystery lies in that the label is what the Institute thought was an Indian language, but it does not appear to be one.  Is it Burmese ? we think its Thai .. can anyone translate it ?  What is interesting is that in the 1940’s the old Gramophone company of India was releasing Jazz in language labels other than English !.. The archivist Tad Hershorn at the Institute showed me late ’30’s jazz ’78 rpm pressings from India including one featuring the hottest French tenor sax player of the time Alix Combelle !

Can any one translate the label for the Institute ? Dan and his associates would be most grateful .

One step forward

We are now on the Roy W. Dean Writing and Film Grant site ! The Roy W. Dean foundation has agreed to be a fiscal sponsor.

Fiscal Sponsorship is a financial and legal system by which a legally recognized 501(c)(3) public charity provides limited financial and legal oversight for a project initiated independently by an artist. That “project” might be a one-time project or an independent artist or even an arts organization that does not have its own 501(c)(3) status.
Once sponsored in this way, the project is eligible to solicit and receive grants and tax-deductible contributions that are normally available only to 501(c)(3) organizations.

We will soon be able to accept tax deductible donations to this project!