Black Soul of Calcutta and Mussoorie

Nathan Rabe , who blogs as “Ajnabi” -from Melbourne, Victoria..wrote to us:
” What a story. Thank you for sharing it. I have just found your blog and have a passionate interest in music India and Anglo Indians..I am not one but have many friends from Allahabad, Karnataka, Madras etc.
– Ajnabi

We introduced Nathan to our friend Dr. Brad Shope (search this blog for more info about Brad’s contribution to this project) and the rest is on his Washermans Dog blog

The Ajnabi’s blog carried this post …worth the read ..and scroll down to the end of his post for a listen!

Serendipity..Kismat..La Chance..Fate

We have written this blog for close to three years now..and it has had about 10,000 reads. Sometimes we wonder who all the readers are..we dont know more than a few of them…or where they are from.

About a year ago we received a message from a reader of the blog in the UK.. she said (last names privacy protected):

I have been on all sorts of website trying to find information about my father who is an Anglo- Indian and I found this site. As I was reading through it. I remembered that my father was a very skilled drummer , one of the best I was told. He was a jazz musicians from Calcutta. I do not have any picture or anything to send you.

However I was wondering do you know musicians from Calcutta who might know my father, His name is Eugene M . I have a real sister and a step sister Melisa M and Lulu M. The women my father was married to or ??? Marie Bartley ? and Donna I have been told she is dead.

Unfortunately or fortunately I was given up for adoption. I have been trying for many years to find my father.
I would really appreciate if you could ask your musicians friends from Calcutta about my father, Eugene M. He is very well known amongst these musicians. I know what he looks like as I was about six when I last saw him and would love to see him again. No matter what.

Would you be able to give me some leads or names of some people you know in Calcutta that can help.
I would really appreciate any help. I would also really appreciate a reply anything.

I would love to see my dad again.

Well, we shared her request through the network of this film and inquiries seemed to have gone across the oceans to Australia , Canada, and yes India.but no one could come back with anything…

The next letter was a few months ago…it speaks for itself

Thank you very much for replying. I am so excited. I can remember a few names of the Musician that were given to me to : Ian Casio / Cassio/ Kasio a guitarist; Luie King a drummer,he has three children’s Jackie, Marylyn and Shane King; Jeff a guitarist ( lots of Tattoo’s on his chest) There were a Group of four men from Goa , They played in the Taj Hotel in New Delhi. I can only remember the Singer’s name Cyril.

There was a Saxophone player from Goa . I cannot remember his name .

I went over to India about two years ago to trace or get some information and returned feeling totally broken Hearted and very sad. I went to Cochin, old fort area, went to all the churches, schools. In one of the Girls Schools the nuns actually recognised the name M and showed me pictures of two Girls but they were not my sisters. It was the Nuns that told me that Lulu M and my father moved to the Nilgiris area.

I have searched on face book and sent a message to a person by the name of Lulu M but have not received a reply.
I was going to advertise in the India papers and almost handed over £10k Rupees went I realised that I was going to be taken for a ride. So I very cleverly managed to walk away change where I was staying.

I could not stay in India it was too depressing and had to head back to London. I felt so sad and could not bear to think that my father or sisters were suffering.vI was also told that my sister Melissa was put in an orphanage in Bangalore named Douglas Memorial Home but I could not find any place by that name.

Donna (step mother) she has a number of family members: Adrian , one of her brothers, I think their mother’s name was Shelia. It will be a real miracle if I find my dad and Sisters.

Thank you very much for taking the time to write to me . I really do appreciate it. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.

Thank you very much again and please keep in touch.

Once again, we tried the network…nothing..

And them, just yesterday morning, we received a call from a journalist in Delhi who was interested in speaking to us about the film.. Strangely, the sound of her last name seemed to mirror the anxious letter writer’s search. We asked a hesitant question..was it possible?

Unbelievably ..YES..and as of yesterday afternoon, two half sisters were reunited..and the letter writer’s search was concluded..

Serendipity, Kismat, La Chance, Fate

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 !!

Inspired by this project – artwork from Tony Vita

Our good friend, the talented and creative Tony Vita shared his thoughts about this film in a note…and a graphic inspired by the project:

Jazzbo - a graphic for Finding Carlton by Tony Vita


From: Tony Vita
Date: Fri, Mar 11, 2011 at 11:36 AM
Subject: trailer

The trailer is quite beautiful. Really well crafted.
This is going to be a fascinating film.
You’ve given something back to the artform you love
with your playing and now this film

Check out Tony Vita’s incredible imagination and creative expression , including his “Jazz Series”, and in the Animation category “The Gig”

Thanks, Tony !

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.

Alix Combelle – Update

Sometime last year we came across more material on Alix Combelle – the #1 European tenor man in the late ’30s – who resurfaced as a Calcutta bandleader !

see the blog post Alix Combelle – in Calcutta and the associated comments

We had found no archival material about Combelle’s time in India until recently, while reviewing material we had collected, we noticed that we did indeed have some documentation:
Note both these images are high resolution and can be clicked on to provide more detail

The only photograph we have seen of the Alix Combelle band playing in Calcutta

A letter, or a briefing wriiten in French by Niranjan Jhaveri which appears to been published in le Jazz Hot , June 1952 – “News from the Orient” communicating information about Jazz in the then Far East, with mention of swinging Manila, and other hot spots for Jazz. It references Alix Combelle “est toujours a Calcutta” amd that Rene Franc , ex clarinetist of the Orchestre Blaslavsky can be found in Bombay! . A full translation would be appreciated, as would any other information.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,900 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 19 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 43 posts. There were 19 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 6mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was July 21st with 82 views. The most popular post that day was Alix Combelle – In Calcutta – 1951.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for paul gonsalves, arthur gracias indojazz, niranjan jhaveri, teddy weatherford, and carlton kitto.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Alix Combelle – In Calcutta – 1951 July 2010


Bridging the World November 2009


Niranjan Jhaveri – R. I. P. May 21, 2010 May 2010


About Blue Rhythm August 2009

A Jazz lover from India believes in this project

I am totally overwhelmed and blown away by the generosity and goodwill of a Bombay based jazz man  (who wishes to remain anonymous) who has arranged for a very generous grant to help move this documentary forward.  Thanks to this individual, the Gayatri Education, Research, and Medical Foundation has committed funds to help initiate and complete  some critical next steps, that will be done in India:

– transcribing over 5 hours of interview footage

– moving forward on a website to promote the film

– and most importantly, edit a 5-6 pilot from the hours and hours of footage and over 500 archival photographs.

Words cannot say how I feel about this gift and the conviction behind it. More importantly, it is the recognition that projects such as this one demand not only the attention and interest of supporters , but also  need to be viably funded.  It means a lot to me and makes me proud that the first support for this project has come from India !  Score 1 -0 in favor of Indian jazz fans!

If there is any one out there who thinks they can help round out this first gift with an additional sponsorship or grant, please contact me

Teddy Weatherford Recordings

Many readers of this Blog will know the  Teddy Weatherford story. For those who dont,  here is some detail at  The article leaves out the fact that he played in Calcuta for 2 or 3 years at the Grand Hotel…and in Bombay at the Taj Mahal Hotel.   Louiz Banks’ dad , Georgie Banks  played in Teddy’s band at the Grand Hote and may have been the trumpet player on one or more of the recordings.  Apparently the EMI/Columbia Label in India released multpiple recordings by Teddy.  We are trying to locate one or more of these for the soundtrack of the film.  Can anyone help ?

The Calcutta Concert

It would be great if someone who attended the concert at the Palladium Lounge in Calcutta could comment on the evening.  The concert reunited three musicians who had not played together for many many years. The musicians were Carlton Kitto – gtr, * Clive Hughes -drms,vcls  *  George Chator – upright bass * Arunava -piano. The evening featured guest vocals by Anjum Katyal, and Smita Mishra.  Here are a few production stills. (courtesy Sunil Shanbag) We will put some more  stills up next week.  If you have photos, please send to us. And please,  share comments