There Will Never Be Another You


A few hours ago, a New York morning was shadowed by a passing in Kolkata (Calcutta).  It marked the end of  the earth life of Pam Crain , India’ first and only jazz diva, who , in a remarkable career that began as a teenager, way back in the 1930’s (with Sonny Lobo’s band) went on to become the jazz voice of India…After finishing her gigs on earth, she now joins the Great Gig in the Sky..in the company of the finest.

Pam

Her story is one of passion, and dedication for the music she loved, as she said “its hard work ,  it didnt come easy” …but it took her to fame, but not always fortune…respect for her outstanding and extraordinary talent, and most of all adoration and love from thousands of Pam-struck mesmerized  fans. For so many , she was the voice of jazz,  often their first introduction to live jazz in an era where live jazz of her quality was a scarce and rare treasure. They went home, with a vision of Pam in her Diva gown wafting in their heads and hearts, and a musical phrase with her voice in their ears..and from then on jazz, for many, truly began. She was the voice of the legendary Blue Fox in Calcutta (now a McDonalds) , and later at the Oberoi in Bombay.  Inspired first by Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughn, she then, as she tells the story..”was in Bombay, and this guy who was from the American Embassy, he and his wife, insisted I go to their house, and said you must listen to this person, because you sing like her…and they put on this record and though the head phones ..i heard this voice, I was blown away , I cannot tell you how I felt ..I was in shock..”  it was the great Betty Carter..and as Mr.Louiz Banks says in our Documentary Finding Carlton – Uncovering the Story of Jazz in India..”she just wanted to sing like Betty Carter” And when she met Betty in Bombay , in the early ’80’s they bonded like a mother and daughter.. and Pam “went to Heaven, that time, when we met and hung out”. Unfortunately there are just a few recordings of Pam, but her voice is carried on in many hearts.. Here is a find from the very early 70’s’s with the Braz Gonsalves 7 Pam was gracious, charming and full of sparkle and wit. She made a tremendous effort to help document her part of the Story of Indian Jazz, for us  when we filmed in Calcutta in 2010. She was fragile and it was clearly difficult for her to participate.  But lights, camera and action,brought back the Diva, after all she was on stage, and she would perform, regardless of pain and other things that got in the way.  She was the consumate professional. Pam was full of stories.. we filmed about three hours with Pam.. stories of jazz in Calcutta, and her gigs elsewhere, of club owners, of musicians, of stories of jazz nights that only jazz people can truly believe,  of her life , her triumphs , and yes, even paths she took that did had unhappy endings. She was honest.

 My lasting memory of her is the compliment she paid after seeing our film .. “You really respected us musicians, thank you for telling all our stories”.. That was Pam, she understood what it took.

Her husband the gracious and gentle Donald Saigal and her talented musical daughter – Sonia Saigal are left with the memories. Our sincere condolences to them and her family of dear ones all over the world Rest in Peace  , Ms Crain.. There WIll Never Be Another You

There will be many other nights like this,  And I’ll be standing here with someone new.  There will be other songs to sing,  Another fall…another spring…  But there will never be another you. 

There will be other lips that I may kiss,  But they won’t thrill me,  Like yours used to do.  Yes, I may dream a million dreams,  But how can they come true,  If there will never, ever be another you?

(Listen to: There will never be another you– Harry Warren , Mack Gordon)

And here, from Finding Carlton is a tribute to Pam Crain.

Time for Jazz


Beginning in 1955, there was one worldwide voice that was inexorably linked to Jazz. This voice was not that of a jazz musician. But this voice reached out from the early days of the Cold War, and could be heard nightly from from East Berlin to Vladivastok, from Azerbaijan to Australia…for almost 25 years…bringing the sweet music to millions of jazz listeners worldwide. And while his name was practically unknown in the US, he became a powerful symbol of an America that promoted goodwill through jazz.

Willis Conover was not a jazz musician. However, many people believe that he did more to spread the sound of jazz than any person in music history and singularly helped make Jazz an international language. For more than forty years Conover brought jazz to people around world on his Voice of America (VOA) radio music programs “Music USA”. Here is a video tribute to that program  Continue reading

Eulogy for the Music ?


One of the most gratifying outcomes from our preview screenings and focus groups  for our documentary film – Finding Carlton – Uncovering the Story of Jazz in India is the post viewing discussion. Its fascinating to hear how people react to the story, align with characters, and connect with the larger issues that the film attempts to communicate. It makes it all worthwhile..

We are frequently  asked “Is Jazz Alive in India? Is there a future for Jazz in the big cities of Bombay and Calcutta or Bangalore?   Is there hope for young musicians ?”

We often choose to answer this with a rhetorical response that results in more discussion…and now we have chanced upon this message from a professional musician in Mumbai …Read and decide…. Continue reading

In Memoriam – Micky Correa


Mick Correa R.I.P Sept 22, 2011

We are sorry to report the passing of Micky Correa..He would have turned 98 on Sept 26.    He departed to play in the Great Gig in the Sky today, Sept 22,2011.

Micky’s career was almost legendary..with a longevity that is cherished both by his fans in Bombay , and those who got to know him from visits to the Taj Hotel, Bombay, where he was resident for almost 25 years. His musicianship continued well into his life, with loyal students who continued to seek his teaching through the last months of his life.

Condolences to his family Continue reading

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 Continue reading

Incredible Ellington — in India ! Pt I


The search for Archival material for our documentary film Finding Carlton – Uncovering the Story of Jazz in India..is 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…

THE CLUES:
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

THE NEW SOUND


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

Taj Mahal Foxtrot


We are delighted that our friend and collaborator (indeed, our lead historian for Bombay jazz history) Naresh Fernandes is ready to unleash his book !.. Great work  Naresh  !  This book reflects many years of research and the gathering of a wonderful set of archival material that tells the story of how Bombay and Jazz co-habited, and indeed, gave birth to an era when the swinging sounds could be heard in many a venue.. We are much much appreciative of Naresh’s participation and passionate support for the documentary, and of course for the generous outpouring of archival materials, many of which have found a home in the film..

Here is what he says about his upcoming book:

Dear all,
Ahead of the publication of Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age, I’m really trying to overcome my technophobia. The website for the book www.tajmahalfoxtrot.com is now up and running. Over the next few months, I’m going to be posting outakes and riffs on the book, as well as archival audio clips on the site. My first post is about how the drummer Oliver Tines, who was once a regular member of Louis Armstrong’s band, ended up spending his last days in Satara.
TajMahal Foxtrot also has a Facebook page.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Taj-Mahal-Foxtrot-The-Story-of-Bombays-Jazz-Age-by-Naresh-Fernandes/225469034137182
 

Naresh’s pre-launch website has already generated feedback and hopefully more and more archival anecdotes and material will be result….Gordon Rodricks in Bombay responded to Naresh’s email and  shared  this article “the last Gig” – about the tail end of the jazz era in Bombay ..part of his collection of “Jazz in Bombay” history…Thanks Gordon

THE BASEMENT TAPES


One of the challenges of recounting history in a documentary film is locating archival material. And a film about the story of Jazz, in India, requires authentic archival audio.  Its a constant search , that turns up resources from the most unexpected places..and this post is about an amazing find..the basement tapes ! ..this time from Bombay, via Canada, and not from  Woodstock !

Heres the story..About a year and a half ago, we learned about some old reel tapes that had languished in a basement in Canada, transported there from India by the sister of a well known Bombay musician of the past..They finally go to us, in bad shape, contents unknown, and frankly in danger that old magnetic tape would fall apart..The reels had all the danger signs, cracking surfaces, stretched , and print through (when audio leaks through the layers of tape). Regardless , we finally found an machine that could play this, thanks to our friends at the Institute of Jazz Studies and carefully sampled a few  minutes from each…. WOW..what was in our hands was the only known recording of the Micky Correa Big Band..swinging away, live,  at his very last performance …the farewell concert , Taj Mahal Hotel, 1962 !

It was too dangerous to run the entire tapes..what was most important was that they be transferred.. so it was determined that they be sent to a specialty shop,  where they could be transferred ..so off they went to a specialty shop in Ohio that pulled off as much audio as possible from the two reels that were playable.

A six minute test edit captures part of this story …

NOW ON YOU TUBE

And there you have it .. the Basement Tapes..a wonderful piece of archival history, portions of which will feature in our film…thanks to the Correa family.

The Gentleman behind the story…Jehangir Dalal


In Alexandria, VA lives a quiet and modest gentleman. Once from Bombay, now a Virginian, but always in Jazz..Over the last 65 years, Jehangir Dalal a respected authority on the origins of Jazz in India, has quietly researched, collected and documented how the music came to India. In fact, it was his early research, as acknowledged in Storyville magazine, that was the source for much of our information on the African-American musicians who carried Jazz from the salons of Montmatre to the grand hotels and ballrooms of Asia.

Much more than a historian and archivist, with jazz memorablia and a music collection that is emblematic of his passion for the music, he is an erudite and deeply knowledgeable expert on Jazz and its characters. A close personal friend of some well known musicians, (who may recognized in the video clip) he is deeply respected by those in the know. This week he turned 80, and admits that he remains under the continued influence ….of Jazz !

Happy Birthday Jehangir !!

Here’s a short clip that shares his story

Jehangir has been instrumental in helping to make this documentary come alive. Constantly available, and ever willing to dig through his trove, he has been a part of the Documentary project from its inception. Thanks Jehangir for all your help and support!