The first known recording of Jazz in India was in Calcutta in 1926. Brought to India, first by European dance bands, and then in pursuit of the ‘real thing” imports via Paris and direct from the legendary Savoy in Harlem. By the 40’s jazz found its way into a generation of Indian musicians, often mentored by expatriate African-American jazzmen fresh from the cafes of Montmatre. In India local stars rose to prominence in a ‘golden age’ that soon led to an embrace of jazz in Bollywood. Then, it faded away as political and economic pressures left few outlets for passionate jazz musician and their fans.
The research for this film began in 2008. It was apparent that little was known about this story, both in the USA and elsewhere. In India, an effort had been made in the 70’s to gather information about this history and establish a documented legacy. However, the focus of jazz studies, world-wide, was primarily around the development of jazz in America, and its subsequent assimilation into American popular music. There has been little or no interest in the spread of jazz beyond a few cities in Europe and its embrace by cultures that lay further East.
In India,this story is little known, and its last remaining participants are few and fading. Documents and archival photos are scattered and in poor condition. Today’s jazz generation in India does not know the history of Indian jazz, its powerful origins, its unique adaptation and the efforts and talent of the musicians and fans that gave it life.
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