She sings…and Swings – Sonia Saigal

We were lucky to hear Sonia Saigal last night..In concert with her Dad .the legendary voice of Calcutta – Don Saigal.., with arrangements and a band led by Louiz Banks

.Sonia is a sensation..and if you are in India and want to hear a world class jazz vocalist, go listen to her…

Sonia comes from a deep tradition.. Jazz is in her DNA..Last night we heard Sonia conjure up shades of Carmen McRae and Betty Carter as she hit the stage after a wonderful “Nature Boy” by her dad Don..She blew us away …especially on God Bless This Child..which is a brave tune for any female vocalist to perform because of the Billie aura..but with a very contemporary arrangement by Louiz Banks that underpinned it. Sonia found the blues in this wonderful jazz classic and shared them with us. .

Our regret is that we could not grab Sonia’s singing during our shoot in Calcutta..she is a wonderfully gracious lady who was generous with her time in an interview that we share below..with an underlying vocal from an earlier time (almost 8 years ago, with the Carlton Kitto ensemble! ) ..

Bombay..if you know what jazz is all about..bring Sonia back

If anyone has a video of the performance from the session in Bombay..please share !

UPDATE: Sonia sent us two links ..which include some fresh interpretation of the standards ! LISTEN !! – Great interpretation of Up Jumped Spring !!



In the early 50’s Jazz in India was largely ‘stuck’ in a time warp..the big bands  may have been replaced by smaller combo’s ..but what they played was “swing thing’..however a few musicians and fans had their ears tuned to new sounds that were coming in ..faster tempo’s,  rhythmic accents and counterpoints , improvisation over extended chords , and most of all re-harmonization and melodic invention at a whole new level..

In this video, a jazz fan recalls how he came upon the New Sound

Taj Mahal Foxtrot

We are delighted that our friend and collaborator (indeed, our lead historian for Bombay jazz history) Naresh Fernandes is ready to unleash his book !.. Great work  Naresh  !  This book reflects many years of research and the gathering of a wonderful set of archival material that tells the story of how Bombay and Jazz co-habited, and indeed, gave birth to an era when the swinging sounds could be heard in many a venue.. We are much much appreciative of Naresh’s participation and passionate support for the documentary, and of course for the generous outpouring of archival materials, many of which have found a home in the film..

Here is what he says about his upcoming book:

Dear all,
Ahead of the publication of Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age, I’m really trying to overcome my technophobia. The website for the book is now up and running. Over the next few months, I’m going to be posting outakes and riffs on the book, as well as archival audio clips on the site. My first post is about how the drummer Oliver Tines, who was once a regular member of Louis Armstrong’s band, ended up spending his last days in Satara.
TajMahal Foxtrot also has a Facebook page.

Naresh’s pre-launch website has already generated feedback and hopefully more and more archival anecdotes and material will be result….Gordon Rodricks in Bombay responded to Naresh’s email and  shared  this article “the last Gig” – about the tail end of the jazz era in Bombay ..part of his collection of “Jazz in Bombay” history…Thanks Gordon