On JAZZ LIVES – Every Picture Tells a Story

Michael Steinman is the archivist and jazz writer behind JAZZ LIVES , recently nominated as one of the Best Jazz Blogs of 2009 by the Jazz Journalists Association. Michael has a lot to be proud of, including a “community of readers it has attracted from Long Island to Istanbul”. JAZZ LIVES consistently shows up in the Top 10 jazz blogs worldwide !

  We thank Michael and JAZZ LIVES for sharing our story, but we owe him and the readers of JAZZ LIVES an apology. To  read JAZZ LIVES just click on the link below http://jazzlives.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/finding-carlton-discovering-jazz-in-india/

It turns out that we were inaccurate in referencing the photo that we sent him (at left) as “Bombay Bands play tribute to Benny Goodman”.

We now learn (thanks to detail from sax playing archivist Nakul Mehta, in Bombay, and our overflowing digital archives) that it was a tribute to Glenn Miller ! …but there was also a tribute event to Benny Goodman…

And because every picture tells a story …here’s the story behind the photo and both those events

First , the photo of the massed band.. We dont know the exact date or much about the background to t his photo.  All we know is that there was  a Glenn Miller show in Bombay in March 1954.  The event is linked to the release of the worldwide premiere of the film The Glenn Miller Story,(did you click the link ?)  in Japan on January 8, 1954. Interestingly the US  premiere was held in New York on  10th February 1954.  The photo came from Micky Correa’s collection, photographer unknown.   Thanks to a confirmation from Naresh, we know that the concert was held at the gorgeous Art Deco influenced Eros Cinema Theatre   in Bombay.

 Interestingly, the preview theatre at the Eros, (the photo shows the foyer of the Eros preview theater,) was also our choice for our film’s first  private screening, in June 2011! The event brought together a massive big band, pulling together the top bands of Bombay into what must have been a  locomotive of swing.. Unfortunately we dont know the tune.s they played ..but regardless it must have been quite a band..

 Naresh Fernandes our historian friend from Bombay reports: “In March 1954, the bands of Hecke Kingdom, Mickey Correa, Ken Mac, Pete D’mello, Goody Seervai and Hal Green joined forces to play music from the film, The Glenn Miller Story” – Thanks Naresh !

Naresh sent us this ad for the concert

Here is a photo of Micky Correa’s band at the event ..it appears that each band leader may have made an appearance prior to the massed big band..

In 1995 the saxophonist/archivist Nakul Mehta sat down with the bandleader Micky Correa who dictated the line up  of the combined big band from memory..Nakul embedded the details into the photograph below (Click the photo to enlarge)

.and yes , there you see among others, Micky Correa (left foreground) on his baritone sax , the cool Lester Young  influenced Norman Mobsby on tenor,  the sweet sound of the alto of Hal Geen, the  pianist Manuel Nunes is obscured by the stacked saxes. We estimate that this band had around 16 reeds, 6 or 8 trumpets..and probably featured 30+ musicians overall.. Good luck with cutting a solo through that assemblage!

And now for the Benny Goodman photo and story .

It is February  2, 1956, and with great publicity, Hollywood launches the movie about the King of Swing ..Benny Goodman  

By  June 1956 ,  just 4 months later,  The Benny Goodman Story  had made its way to India..and was a popular hit..speaking to a generation of jazz loving Indians who were more than just familiar with  the sound of swing..  Capitalizing on the impact of the film, Philiips Entertainment India sponsored a memorable week long event , live Bands  and it was held at the now destroyed old  Excelsior Theatre  in Bombay

The event was titled “Benny Goodman Jazz Sessions….” and it brought together the leading jazz bands of Bombay.. yes , this was a time when 6 , thats right 6 leading bands were selected to play in tribute to the King of Swing ..and did they play !

In the photo (below) , you can see the legends of Bombay Big Band scene..yes there were big bands in Bombay !. (and not just in a bar in old Bombay !). Each of these were successes in the own right, kept busy between contracts at hotels and clubs, and the many many private events that Bombay’s urbane and sophisticated society  demanded  in the ’50’s !

Says Naresh Fernandes – In June 1956, the Bombay premiere of The Benny Goodman Story at the Excelsior Theatre was preceded by musical performances by some of the city’s best-loved bands. Their leaders posed outside the theatre: Hal Green, Chic Chocolate, Ken Mac, Johnny Baptist, Goody Seervai and Cyril Sequeira.

This was a week long event !..Every night, for a week, a big band played on the theatre stage.. The sign on the right lists the bands and  the order of events…And the band leaders were stars of the day, and some of them,  particularly the dapper ‘Ken Mac” certainly dressed the part !

In this video clip that combines an extract from our film with footage that could not make into our final cut., Micky (now 98 !) reacts to a photo from the concert..then Stanley Pinto , our raconteur, tells us about the period.   The music, as is all the music in our film, is absolutely authentic…found in a basement in Canada..on worn out reel to reel audio tape…you now hear the only known recording of Micky Correa’s big band from 1962 !

4 thoughts on “On JAZZ LIVES – Every Picture Tells a Story

  1. Those were the days. There was no day when jazz couldn’t be enjoyed some place in Bombay then. A wonderful blog for a sentimental journey.
    Farrokh Mehta at Bombay (now Mumbai)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s