Serendipity..Kismat..La Chance..Fate

We have written this blog for close to three years now..and it has had about 10,000 reads. Sometimes we wonder who all the readers are..we dont know more than a few of them…or where they are from.

About a year ago we received a message from a reader of the blog in the UK.. she said (last names privacy protected):

I have been on all sorts of website trying to find information about my father who is an Anglo- Indian and I found this site. As I was reading through it. I remembered that my father was a very skilled drummer , one of the best I was told. He was a jazz musicians from Calcutta. I do not have any picture or anything to send you.

However I was wondering do you know musicians from Calcutta who might know my father, His name is Eugene M . I have a real sister and a step sister Melisa M and Lulu M. The women my father was married to or ??? Marie Bartley ? and Donna I have been told she is dead.

Unfortunately or fortunately I was given up for adoption. I have been trying for many years to find my father.
I would really appreciate if you could ask your musicians friends from Calcutta about my father, Eugene M. He is very well known amongst these musicians. I know what he looks like as I was about six when I last saw him and would love to see him again. No matter what.

Would you be able to give me some leads or names of some people you know in Calcutta that can help.
I would really appreciate any help. I would also really appreciate a reply anything.

I would love to see my dad again.

Well, we shared her request through the network of this film and inquiries seemed to have gone across the oceans to Australia , Canada, and yes India.but no one could come back with anything…

The next letter was a few months ago…it speaks for itself

Thank you very much for replying. I am so excited. I can remember a few names of the Musician that were given to me to : Ian Casio / Cassio/ Kasio a guitarist; Luie King a drummer,he has three children’s Jackie, Marylyn and Shane King; Jeff a guitarist ( lots of Tattoo’s on his chest) There were a Group of four men from Goa , They played in the Taj Hotel in New Delhi. I can only remember the Singer’s name Cyril.

There was a Saxophone player from Goa . I cannot remember his name .

I went over to India about two years ago to trace or get some information and returned feeling totally broken Hearted and very sad. I went to Cochin, old fort area, went to all the churches, schools. In one of the Girls Schools the nuns actually recognised the name M and showed me pictures of two Girls but they were not my sisters. It was the Nuns that told me that Lulu M and my father moved to the Nilgiris area.

I have searched on face book and sent a message to a person by the name of Lulu M but have not received a reply.
I was going to advertise in the India papers and almost handed over £10k Rupees went I realised that I was going to be taken for a ride. So I very cleverly managed to walk away change where I was staying.

I could not stay in India it was too depressing and had to head back to London. I felt so sad and could not bear to think that my father or sisters were suffering.vI was also told that my sister Melissa was put in an orphanage in Bangalore named Douglas Memorial Home but I could not find any place by that name.

Donna (step mother) she has a number of family members: Adrian , one of her brothers, I think their mother’s name was Shelia. It will be a real miracle if I find my dad and Sisters.

Thank you very much for taking the time to write to me . I really do appreciate it. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.

Thank you very much again and please keep in touch.

Once again, we tried the network…nothing..

And them, just yesterday morning, we received a call from a journalist in Delhi who was interested in speaking to us about the film.. Strangely, the sound of her last name seemed to mirror the anxious letter writer’s search. We asked a hesitant question..was it possible?

Unbelievably ..YES..and as of yesterday afternoon, two half sisters were reunited..and the letter writer’s search was concluded..

Serendipity, Kismat, La Chance, Fate


Early Reactions – to preview screenings

We recently screened our work in progress rough cut to invited guests in Bombay and Calcutta..Here are some early reactions and comments

“it was a very sensitive and well written, visualized and conceptualized story about jazz as it was and is…in India….thoroughly enjoyable….
I am so happy that the 3rd generation of aspiring jazz musicians of future India saw the film and got blown by what they saw…it was very inspiring for them ..I hope I get to see your film sometime in the near future……”—-LB
“Thank you for that wonderful trek through history – for me it was a lovely account of the times, not just jazz. [I have these photographs of my parents engagement/wedding in 1959, beautiful women in waisted dresses and very clean shaven men (did they wax their chins or what!), sitting, drinking, dancing – a sax peeping out of a frame. You put all these black & white memories to music last evening, thank you.]

Carlton was a lovely storyteller, he has the smile of a 6 year old, that’s what probably kept him in Calcutta. When your smile grows up, it’s time to leave. Your docu was sensitive, even compassionate,” –MA

“Lovely film Susheel, really lovely, My 19 year old daughter enjoyed it too, so that’s suggest an appeal outside of jazz” —FK

It’s easy to make a straightforward documentary. What you used was in fact a great hook — Carlton. You told the story mostly through a musician who has straddled the generations.
My regret now is I never met Carlton who turns out to be a great guitarist plus a most interesting personality.
You allowed the individuals and the locations to speak for themselves and never seemed to impose your own ideas. That is commendable indeed.If I have one negative to share, it is that there was greater emphasis on a decaying and poor Calcutta than necessary.
By the way, I just loved the drummer with Carlton. —-FM

“It was a rare morning today as your film unfolded the past linked to our own growth period. Finding Carlton has a lot of parallels with The Buenos Vista Social club. Carlton reminded me of the unique characters from Cuba and I realised suddenly how many similarities there were- the loss of music, musicians, our priorities – after 1978-79. I had no idea that Jazz started in India in the 1920’s! As we move on, consolidating our losses, your film floods my heart with the nostalgia. The metamorphoses into Bollywood was amazing. Every person in the film was special and today was special to watch it ” –AL

Bombay and Jazz – A documentary 1992

When we started on this film project we became aware that the BBC had filmed a documentary on jazz in Bombay in one that we met in Bombay remembered seeing the video … the search was on..

We came across a letter from an H.O. Nazareth , a London based film maker..who appeared to be the filmmaker..the letter referenced Penumbra Films and the BBC as other involved parties.. various attempts to contact the production company directly , including a wild goose chase in well as through the BBC wall of ‘sorry can’t help you, try so and so” turned up we put it down in the ” would have, should have, wanted to, didn’t happen’ list…

And this morning, Google in its infinite wisdom turned up a link to part I of the six parts of the documentary – Rhythms of the World – Bombay and Jazz ..In addition to the greats – L. Shankar and Don Cherry …familiar faces showed up..including some friends who participated in our film..(Part 3 – Micky Correa ..and Niranjan Part 4, and also the Sangam band,Braz, Louiz, Ranjit, and in part 5 Sandhya Sanjana)

For whatever reason, its taken many years for this to surface..but its out there and thats all that matters..and makes us wonder whether the fate of jazz documentaries is to roam invisibly across the vaults of production houses (or the BBC?), until some mysterious time, when they appear…

Regardless, we thought it worth sharing this and you go. in six parts ..links to You Tube..a lovely insight from almost 20 years ago !! AND THE MUSIC IS AS FRESH AS EVER…

Incredible Ellington — in India ! Pt I

The search for Archival material for our documentary film Finding Carlton – Uncovering the Story of Jazz in a story in itself…Here is how we came across some rare (and probably the only footage) of Ellington in India – 1963 !!

The Ellington band toured India in 1963. This was their first ever visit to Asia and the Middle East..and it was a wide ranging series of concerts in Syria, Jordan, Afghanistan, India, Ceylon, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey !!!

With the support of dedicated jazz fans in India, we had started assembling a collection of photos, anecdotes, a first hand encounter in Calcutta and even concert programs, and yes tickets ! but what was missing was crucially important audio, and the holy grail – film footage.

Thanks to Jehangir Dalal, We came across a link in an archive of Duke Ellington tour information that hinted that the tour has been filmed in various countries , including India.. we tracked down the first link and it turned out to be from a concert in Iran..and then through an archivist in Belgium we came across some footage , stored in the National Archives in Maryland, that was not cataloged as footage from India..but had 2 or 3 clues that gave away its location..

Well, it was quite a hunt, that took us from New York, to Washington D.c , and then to Brussels, and back to an archive in Virgina…and what we unearthed is a treat , a delight for the eyes and ears…and yes the sound !!! Here is a brief except…

a) Marigolds spelling out the THE DUKE – Location: Shanmukhananda Hall, Bombay, 10th OCtober 1963
b) Chicago Radio on mike stand (with a classic Shure !) only in India !
c) AIR on mike
d) audience ..duh

In a future post , we will share our findings about how a Bombay born Jazz Trumpeter played with the Ellington Band..along with some interesting archival photos , and yes more video and music from the Ellington India tour