The French Connection


Four years ago, when we began this project, we had little idea of the interest that might surround it.. and apart from a few whisky sodden minds here and there, we were under the distinct impression that interest in similar research and uncovering was restricted to the aforesaid flotsam and jetsam of peripheral jazz trivia.. How wrong we were.. and little did we know at that time that scholars and learned souls were steadily pursuing and uncovering more of the the rich history that has materialized into this film.. And we regret most heartily that we not privileged to meet them along the way and benefit from their academic scholarship..

And thus , this French Connection

In 2011 we wrote about how the legendary French tenor man Alix Combelle.. found his way to Calcutta

ALIX COMBELLE

….and then, then in 2011,  more about Alix Combelle…and then, in response,  from Our Gentleman of Perpetual Indian Jazz Archives (aka Naresh Fernandes the author of the very fine book Taj Mahal Foxtrot)  shared with us Niranjan Jhaveri’s 1953 review of Alix’s performance in Calcutta.. but was this the only French Jazz Connection to our continuing story ?

Well, around the spring of 2011, the Finding Carlton Blog received the following letter from France:

I came across your Bluerhythm website, and was so delighted to see someone has done a documentary on Cartlon Kitto.

Stephane Dorin , in Calcutta 1997.. working on his Research

I met him 15 years ago in Calcutta, at the beginning of my PhD on jazz and rock culture in Calcutta. I also met Arthur Gracias, Amit Datta, Rubien Rebeiro, Anto Menezes and my friend Tuki from Krosswindz.

I have been to Calcutta around 10 times, the last one was in 2009. …. I am a social scientist in Paris,…..I mostly wrote in French, but I recently published an article on Jazz and race in colonial India, in Jazz Research Journal. It might be of some interest to you…This month also, I am publishing another article, of a larger scope, but in French, in the anthropology review L’Homme (issue 202, 2012).

Astounding.….!

But, wait,, it turns out that Stephane Dorin’s, scholarly work, Jazz and Race in Colonial India was rich in detail and explored the nuances of culture that gave rise to the jazz culture that prevailed thereafter.  His research included study of materials available from the Roy Butler Collection, in Chicago…from where arrived this image of a contract that lured an American jazzman to play in India.

Stephane also opined , quite succinctly, that although Bombay with its many Goan musicians had a rich jazz history, it was Calcutta , that in many ways was the “mothership”..  he says..  “Anglo-Indian musicians acted as go-betweens, passing down the theoretical knowledge of western harmony as well as the practice of western instruments to the generations of post-Independence India. Moreover, they were the first Indian musicians to perform jazz and blues standards in Calcutta or Bombay, around World War II. Thus, they played a major role in the diffusion of jazz and blues music in India.”

In our film,  Finding Carlton, we share the story of Herb Flemming the “first Jazz Ambassador”who landed in Bombay in 1933, after a brief rest stop in Bombay, proceeded almost immediately to Calcutta and the Grand Hotel..

In the summer of 2011 we had the opportunity to meet with Stephane and get to know this passionate scholar who continues to have focus on the “Circulation of Jazz outside the United States”..

Stephane Dorin:   http://www.stephanedorin.fr
Maître de conférences à l’université Paris 8 Chercheur en délégation au Centre Européen de sociologie et de sciences politiques (CESSP) UMR 8209 CNRS/EHESS/Université Paris1-Panthéon-SorbonneCentre Pouchet, CESSP, 59-61 rue Pouchet, 75849 Paris Cedex 17

Stephane has been diligently working on uniting scholars from around the world who have looked at this ..and as his network has expanded  it now spans to academics at various universities. He has had remarkable outreach and will hopefully be able to unite a worldwide team of authorities in seminal conference …where for the first time they will look at how jazz cultures were birthed and flourished outside the United States.. and hopefully as they pursue this discourse , there will be Finding Carlton (and) Uncovering the Story of jazz in India

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