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 the company of the finest.


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.


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


….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).


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:
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

Alberta Hunter – In Calcutta ?

Prelude:  It was late summer 1982.  I had heard about a 82 year old blueswoman who drew in the crowd at  the Cookery, in the Village…and went there to stand at the bar.   And Alberta Hunter cast her spell on yet another, one magic night in the summer of 1982

Alberta brought a purity and a deep understanding to the blues. She lived the ‘blues” and like many a musician, her life was poured out every night she performed.  If you have never heard about Alberta Hunter, check out this video of Alberta in her 80’s!

And the Ethel Waters song that she revived and made famous.. My Handyman !

But why the title of this post ? Continue reading

She sings…and Swings – Sonia Saigal

We were lucky to hear Sonia Saigal last night..In concert with her Dad .the legendary voice of Calcutta – Don Saigal.., with arrangements and a band led by Louiz Banks

.Sonia is a sensation..and if you are in India and want to hear a world class jazz vocalist, go listen to her…

Sonia comes from a deep tradition.. Jazz is in her DNA..Last night we heard Sonia conjure up shades of Carmen McRae and Betty Carter as she hit the stage after a wonderful “Nature Boy” by her dad Don..She blew us away …especially on God Bless This Child..which is a brave tune for any female vocalist to perform because of the Billie aura..but with a very contemporary arrangement by Louiz Banks that underpinned it. Sonia found the blues in this wonderful jazz classic and shared them with us. .

Our regret is that we could not grab Sonia’s singing during our shoot in Calcutta..she is a wonderfully gracious lady who was generous with her time in an interview that we share below..with an underlying vocal from an earlier time (almost 8 years ago, with the Carlton Kitto ensemble! ) ..

Bombay..if you know what jazz is all about..bring Sonia back

If anyone has a video of the performance from the session in Bombay..please share !

UPDATE: Sonia sent us two links ..which include some fresh interpretation of the standards ! LISTEN !! – Great interpretation of Up Jumped Spring !!

Song from his Father

Can anyone help Pieter de Haan who sent in this query (After watching the Teddy Weatherford video) ?

“Dear sir,
I was impressed by the archive in the beautifull video, therefore I hope you can give me any information about my father, the piano-player Harry de Haan, who made several recordings at CBS dum dum.
The only title I can remember is “the rapsody in blue” by Gershwin.
He lived and worked in Singapore from 1924 untill the japanese occupation in 1942.
Thankfully yours,
pieter de Haan
Amsterdam, Holland.”

Piano Demon – The Teddy Weatherford Story

Sometime last August, while in Calcutta, we heard that a New York based writer was working on a project on Teddy Weatherford. His research assistant had located Weatherford’s grave in Park Street Cemetery and had contacted us via Carlton Kitto in the hope that we might have answers to some riddling questions relating to the “Godfather of Indian Jazz”.. Why we would not want to get in touch ? !!

This week sees the release of Brendan’s e-book on Teddy Weatherford,

Piano Demon

available exclusively through the Atavist on Kindle, via Amazon, as well as on iPad and iPhone!

Brendan has been a good friend to this project and we appreciate it. His research is meticulous and thorough and his writing tells the tale of a contender to Earl “Fatha” Hine’s stride piano prowess, … born in West Virginia, developed legendary piano chops in Chicago..and went on to march with the saints whils’t gigging in Calcutta !

While Brendan tells a good tale, indeed, we couldn’t resist celebrating his book with the accompanying Video which includes a rare first hand account of Teddy…. Has anybody else seen Mr. Weatherford ?

Narrating the story are, in order of appearance, Ajoy Ray (Kolkata), Jehangir Dalal (Mumbai), Dan Morgenstern (Newark), Naresh Fernandes (Mumbai), Louiz Banks (Mumbai) and our eyewitness, the last of Calcutta’s Big Band crooners !

Special thanks to Jenny Legget, the daughter of Cedric West, for photo..And the Oberoi Grand, Calcutta for their gracious co-operation.

The Ladies of Calcutta

We head to Calcutta on August 1, one year from our previous visit and will hopefully come back with the footage we are looking for..

In the meanwhile, memories from last years work and the songs and music remain…

Here are two brief clips featuring the voices from Calcutta..

Anjum Katyal
We follow Anjum , a singer, as she rehearses with Carlton, the band, and then in performance…Moanin’ is the tune, written by Bobby Timmons and made famous by Art Blakey, Wes Montgomery and many others

Smita Mishra
Smita’s debut performance brings her sound to video.. She came to learn guitar..and wound up singing in a concert setting..

We follow her through a lesson where she works on the Ellington tune..”Hit me with the hot notes” -, next a rehearsal – with “At Last” and then in performance with the Cole Porter standard – “Lets fall in love”

and for those of you know remember the original “Ladies of Calcutta” you go!

Alix Combelle – In Calcutta – 1951

Alix Combelle was the hottest tenor player in pre-war Europe..and respected by the American musicians who brought jazz to Europe. ..The French nicknamed him: “Le premier négre du jazz, made in France” (= The first “black” French jazz musician)..Articles in Downbeat and Hot Jazz (paris) speak highly of his playing ability.. The blog KEEP SWINGING includes a recording.. We came across an Alix Combelle 78 issued on the old Columbia Label and pressed in Dum Dum Calcutta …and wondered why this recording was released in India..Later on , in interviews with old timers in Calcutta we heard that Alix may have played in Calcutta around 1950.. We just heard from his son Phillippe, a jazz musician , who confirms this.. “dear sir i think my father alix combelle was in calcutta india in 1947 /1948 with his band thats what my mother says but i am not sure ; ; ;if i find some news about it i tell you latter i am a jazz musician too and i like to go to india to play in jazz concert i am on my space/philippe combelle take a look if you want i wish you good success for your work on the story of jazz in india sincerely philippe alix combelle” It would be interesting to find out where he played..we hear that it was a 6 month or longer stint.. Calcutta must have been a swinging city ! FOLLOW UP : See DOUG PETERS COMMENTS (below) ..WHERE HE VERIFIES THAT ALIX COMBELLES CALCUTTA GIG WAS IN 1951/52 at PRINCES, THE GRAND HOTEL..

From Perth, via Calcutta – guitar jazz and archival photos !

With permission from Arthur Gracias, a pioneering and respected Calcutta jazzman, now settled in Perth..Arthur was one of the earliest jazz musicians in India to seriously study Indian Classical music.. he was ahead of his time..Arthur left Calcutta for Perth about seven years ago. He currently performs and teaches in Australia.

“I have attached a few photographs of the 60’s performing at the Grand Hotel( Scherazade)
left standing is Lenny D’souza (drums) Michael Dias, Alto Sax and Clarinet,Hector Cranenburg, Double Bass, Arthur Gracias, Guitar, Felix Torcato, Piano. we used to play Bebop,Swing etc. (Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Wes Montgomery, Ramsey Lewis etc.)

(2) performance at Prince’s (Grand Hotel) .Sonny Lobo (piano)Rubin Robeiro (jazz vocalist) Jimmy Sam’s (Trumpet/violin) Michael Dias, (Tenor/Alto Saxes/Clarinet/violin) Bostio Fernandes, Bouble Bass, (sitting left) Lester Rozario,( Drums) Arthur Gracias, Guitar. Custod Silveira, Tenor/Alto saxes/clarinet/violin. During the period we used to perform Big band jazz such as Duke Ellington, Count basie, night and Classical music for the lunch sessions everyday, Sonny used to import the orchestrations from the Uk.and USA.

Charlie Smith ’65 etc { Who was Charlie Smith ?, does anyone know ? }

In 1972 I performed the first Indo jazz concert with the Great Tabla player Ustad Nanku Maharaj,Dulal Lahiri, Indian classical Violin and myself Guitar, at Rabindra Sadan.

Can send you more details, my web page is down presently, however you can google Arthur Gracias Indojazz for more info. I have been residing in Perth W.Australia for seven years but do go back to India every year to perform.I have a lot more photographs, pressreviews,tapes, cd’s etc. as the years go by 60s,70s,80s,todate.”

Google Arthur Gracias – Indojazz for information about his current activity..

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.