Finding Paris – The French Connection


click to enlarge

Between 1950 and 1952,  Calcutta was home to the  “Le premier négre du jazz, made in France” (= The first “black” French jazz musician) – Alix Combelle and the “modern” sound of his sextet – three saxes, and a rhythm section.

We followed up in a  2011 Update with interesting documentation including a photo of the band in Calcutta.

Jhaveri 1955-JazzHot

Next, in 2012- came the French Connection, and our friendship with Stephane Dorin, who shared this documentation written by the remarkable “Godfather of Jazz in India”  – Niranjan Jhaveri, found in  Charles Delaunay and Hughes Panassié ‘s  Jazz Hot Magazine  (1955)

And now in 2013..more news of the French jazzmen in India ? Continue reading


2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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…


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

Desperately seeking Calcutta

Thanks to friends of this film all over the world, we have accumulated over 700 photos and other documents that will create authenticity and enrich the archival feel of the film. Many are from personal collections including that of Jehangir Dalal, Naresh Fernandes, Nakul Mehta, Niranjan Jhaveri, musicians scrapbooks, materials from Dr. Brad Shope, the personal collection of Micky Correa and others. Their is a tremendous amount of archival material from Bombay but sadly very little from Calcutta..This is hard to understand, particularly since Calcutta had a thriving jazz culture for so many years, and indeed was for a while the center of India’s jazz scene.

We are desperate for archival photos that show jazz bands and audiences at the Calcutta landmarks including The Golden Slipper, Prince’s , the Winter Garden, Moulin Rouge, The Blue Fox, Mocambo..etc. We also need progams, brochures, adverts that reflect the jazz environment of the time.  Especially valuable would be old audio, in any format , that we may convert.  Without Calcutta archival material, the film wont be complete.

Reimagine the clip The Jazz Scene was Calcutta with appropriate  interiors or shots of archival material that could enrich it

Please share this and feedback on any sources that might be able to help us.

Bridging the World

When Louiz Banks heard a rare 1956 recording of Brubeck and Morello with Palani Subramanium,(see Louiz , Part I) he marvelled at what is probably the earliest recorded attempt at Indo-jazz fusion.

Jazz has the ability to bridge cultures and its African roots and pentatonic underpinnings encourage rhythmic and melodic fusions ..  And this capability has seduced and attracted musicians from both India and the West into creating integration.


In the 60’s, two  musicians profoundly influenced and impacted this fusion: Two from India – Ravi Shankar and John Meyer .

Ravi Shankar’s seminal 1962 release,  Improvisations featured Bud Shank (Flute) , Dennis Budimir (guitar), Gary Peacock (bass) and the great Louis Hayes (drums).. he went on teach and and influenced Coltrane,  Buddy Rich and many others.

John Mayer grew up in Calcutta , studied both Western and Indian Classical music and went to the UK.  His pioneering work with Joe Herriott led to the Joe Herriott and John Mayer Double quintet that fused Indian, Jazz and Classical forms.

Click here to read an interesting article from adapted by Satyajit Roychaudhury from: Gerry Farrell’s book, Indian Music and the West,  Oxford University Press, 1997


In their footsteps came other Indian jazz musicians who reached out on their instruments to integrate and link these two musical cultures. Among them is the relatively unknown guitarist Amancio D’Silva whose journey is quite interesting.  Thanks to Naresh Fernandes in Bombay for introducing me to his story. I have been listening to his album Integration recorded in 1969. The website includes his biography and some of his music.

By the 1980’s Braz Gonsalves the brilliant  saxophonist and composer (who incidentally played with Amancio in the ’60s , had developed his own path into Indo-jazz fusion and along with Louis Banks formed the “Indo Jazz Ensemble” in the late 70’s.  They, and the young master drummer Ranjit Barot, bassist Karl Peters and the acclaimed Carnatic vocalist Ramamani and others merged into the eclectic group Sangam which toured Europe in the early 80’s and went on to peform at the Berlin Jazz Festival.

There are many others who deserve attention for their contributions, including the renowned percussionists Ramesh Shottam, Trilok Gurtu, singer Asha Puthli,  and of course Waterfront, the legendary Bombay based pioneering ind0-jazz-rock group (Derek Julian, Roger Dragonnette, Trilok Gurtu , Soli Dastur and others).  More well known in Europe ,perhaps than America, each of them has contributed in significant way to bridging the world.

Did Paul Gonsalves of the Ellington band record with Teddy Weatherford?

In last weeks video sequence,  Paul Gonsalves - copyright Getty ImagesAjoy Ray talked about Teddy Weatherford at the Grand. Later, Ian Zachariah told us a delightful story about Paul Gonsalves and the Ellington band.

It turns out that after moving to Calcutta from Bombay , Teddy recorded extensively while in Calcutta and liner notes from that time indicate that his typical line up (Teddy Weatherford & His Band) included: Louiz’ dad, The Nepali jazzman George Banks (real name: Pushkar Bahadur Buddhaprithi),and  Bill McDermott (tp) George Leonardi (tb) the Burmese  Reuben Solomon (as,cl) Sonny Saldana (reeds) , the swinging Burmese guitarist Cedric West (g,tb) Tony Gonsalves (b) Trevor McCabe (d) Teddy Weatherford (p,vcl)

In May 1943, Teddy recorded with an expanded horn section – adding Roy Butler and Rudy Cotton on tenor, retaining  George Banks,  Cedric West and Reuben Soloman, and adding personnel who may have well been American and other servicemen,

And here lies the mystery – Did Paul Gonsalves of the Ellington band ever record with Teddy Weatherford in Calcutta ?

First ,  there are two points of view about this line up

In the Organissimo blog, there is a post by “Chuck Nessa”

that shows the line up for the recording

Teddy Weatherford and his Band : George Banks, Bill McDermott, Pat Blake (tp) George Leonardi (tb) Reuben Soloman, Paul Gonsalves (as,cl) Roy Butler, Ruby Cotton (ts) Teddy Weatherford (p,vcl) Cedric West (g,tb) Tony Gonsalves (b) Jimmy Smith (d) Kitty Walker (vcl)
Calcutta, c. May 1943
CEI22342-1 The lady who didn’t believe in love (rw vcl) Col (In)FB40315, Harlequin (E)HQ2013
CEI22344-1 Out of this world (kw vcl) – , –

and again in May 1994, the same line up , with Bridget Moore replacing Kitty Walker on vcl

CEI22808-1 Ice cold Katie (bm vcl) Col (In)FB40396, Harlequin (E)HQ2013

However, in  Ross Laird’s extensive


those same recordings are identified with the following line ups:


George Banks-Bill McDermott-Pat Blake-tpts; ?George Leonardi-tbn; Reuben Solomon-clt-as; Roy Butler-Rudy Cotton-ts; Teddy Weatherford-piano-vocal; Cedric West-gtr-tbn; Tony Gonsalves-bass; Jimmy Smith-dms; Kitty Walker-vocals

CEI-22342-1 CEI-22343-1 CEI-22344 CEI-22345-1 CEI-22346 CEI-22347-1

The lady who didn’t believe in love (vTW) Out of this world (vKW)

and again

Includes Teddy Weatherford-piano; Willis Mullings-Bridgette Moe-vocals

CEI-22806-1 CEI-22807-1 CEI-22808-1 CEI-22809-1

Thank your lucky stars (vWM) I’m ridin’ for a fall (vWM) Ice Cold Katie (vBM) Goodnight, good neighbour (vBM)    Col FB40395 Col FB40395 Col FB40396

So there we have ,two sources, pointing to the same recordings , one identifying a Paul Gonsalves on tenor, one excluding his sax !

The next question is  – Was this the Paul Gonsalves of  Ellington Band fame ?

See below, in response, the illuminating comments to this post from the two jazz fans who are living repositories the story of jazz in india – Jehangir Dalal and Promodh Malhotra

The jazz scene was Calcutta…

..says Louiz Banks, in a recently posted video sequence… I’ve edited a sequence that recounts some wonderful stories from the days when Calcutta was swinging and syncopating .. Calcutta boasts the first recorded jazz in India, a ‘hot’ tune featuring Al Bowly when he played at the Grand Hotel in 1926. Interestingly India’s jazz history features two famous hotels , the Grand in Calcutta and the Taj in Bombay.  My conclusion is that without these two ‘characters”   jazz in India would not be the same.

The opening audio for this sequence is from a collection of rarely heard tunes (originally cylinders and ’78’s) from a compilation called “Jazz and Hot Dance in India – 1929-1946” ..Among others, it features Al Bowlly, Teddy Weatherford, and Cricket Smith, and in all probability , Louiz’s dad – “Georgie” Banks.   Warren Pinckney, in his essay , Jazz in India – Perspectives on Historical Development and Musical Acculturation (1989) credits finding this collection as the impetus for his research. Thanks to Naresh Fernandes for unearthing and sharing a copy.


Click here to check out the the time when the Jazz Scene was Calcutta

Louiz Banks part II

Last weeks video was an interesting insight into Louiz, his past and his influences.. In Part II, he talks about “Georgie” Banks and the long lasting influence of Teddy Weatherford.  The move from Calcutta to Bombay and its impacts….And why “Louiz” ?

Watch part II

Jazz Was Our Music

Here is a brief sequence assembled from our footage. — 60 secs of 16 hours. !

for faster connections click

If bandwidth is an issue, click here for a downloadable quicktime file was our

Enjoy..and thanks to all those who appear