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.

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We’ve come a long way, baby !


And though we don’t endorse the product that is the subject of the iconic slogan from the Mad Men Era,  and can’t help but smile when we hear the bubblegum anthem from Josie and the Pussycats ,  and as for Fatboy Slim   well….we have come a long way! .

Who would have ‘thunk” that a film about Jazz in India would feature at the first ever International Jazz Day Celebration at the UN ?!

And today, on April 30, 20112 , as declared in PI 2027 issued at the United Nations General Assembly “The Committee on Information of the United Nations General Assembly, in association with the United Nations Academic Impact and the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, will organize a special event to celebrate the first International Jazz Day on 30 April 2012.”

Yes,  Jazz  truly transcends languages, borders and all the divisions that we choose to create between ourselves.. And this great music found its way to India almost 80 years ago, brought there by a diaspora of talented African-American musicians who left behind a legacy that survived them and even wove its way into India’s popular music.

Herb Flemming (Nicolaaih El-Michelle) was one of those pioneers.. (click here for a Wiki entry, and stay tuned for more info in a future post) Here is a clip from the film that tells his story in India..

We are greatly honored to premiere Finding Carlton – on International Jazz Day…when India joins in the celebration of this truly international music with a tale of how jazz travelled to India.. Finding Carlton – Uncovering the Story of Jazz in India !

Made possible by the support and trust of a group of amazing people from all over the world..and yes the invaluable goodwill of all the readers of this blog and our Facebook friends… Thank You !….as we all stand together and say

We have come a long way ..who would have “thunk” it ? !

Righteous !… but Bittersweet ?


Jazz

On Friday evening , the 14th of October 2011,  the Carlton Kitto Jazz Ensemble will open a three day international jazz event in Bombay ….Carlton’s set will be followed by Jon Faddis. The next two days feature Steve Turre, the Cedar Walton Trio, and Louis Hayes and the Cannonball Legacy .

Great stuff, and its truly righteous that our friend Carlton Kitto has been finally recognized by the local jazz cogniscenti .. its just marvellous to read the listing on their website:

Carlton Kitto is a legendary figure in jazz from India. When he was band leader at Blue Fox on Park Street, Kolkatta, for about 12 years (before which Louiz Banks was the leader and Carlton played in his band), he jammed with all visiting jazz musicians from different corners of the world, including people like Steve Turre, Kenny Baron, Chico Freeman and others and their response to his knowledge of his guitar and his fluency and familiarity with bebop in particular, was remarkable. He remains a purist and will only play music pieces the way they were composed, adhering to stylistic  traditions.

For this talented and dedicated professional who has survived by eking out a meagre living in Calcutta, and has been passed by and indeed ignored by  the grand pooh-bahs of Jazz in India , this is an amazing honor and recognition …long, long, overdue …

Regardless of the fact that we cant help wondering  whether our film has played some small part in this (rewind to June 2009 in India, in conversation with one of the grand poo-bahs: “carlton who ?”) we are simply delighted, turning cartwheels and standing on our head while applauding the team at the NCPA that made this singular honor occur. Join us in a well-deserved round of applause for the committee that helped make this happen…well done !

Yes, this is indeed righteous ..So what’s the bittersweet angle to this post ? Continue reading