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We are honored to be invited to screen our film on the First International Jazz Day celebration at the United Nations, and invite you a screening


The United Nations Academic Impact cordially invites you to an event under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly Committee on Information and in association with the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, to celebrate

International Jazz Day  (click for details)

Monday, 30 April 2012, from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Conference Room 2 (North Lawn Building)
United Nations Headquarters.


H.E. Ambassador Eduardo Ulibarri, Chair, Committee on Information and Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations, Amir Elsaffar, Iraqi-American trumpeter, santur player, vocalist, and composer, Grace Kelly, saxophonist, graduate of Berklee College of Music, Susheel Kurien, film-maker, Jose’ Masso. host/producer of “ConSalsa!” on WBUR 90.9FM, Boston, Alexandra Yabrov: Operations Manager at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston

To learn more about this film, watch the video below

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

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

Video Clip from the Film- An Ellington Story (without the Duke!)

The Ellington band toured India in 1963 ..and their sound was heard by thousands of Indians..Among them a young guitarist in Madras (now Chennai).. In this video, Carlton tells the story of how he met Ellington.

The Ellington band arrived in India on September 21, 1963..After concerts in New Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore, the band arrived in Madras on Saturday 6th, October . On Sunday , the 7th ,the played at the Music Academy Auditorium, Madras.  Ellington however was not with the band, he had taken ill in New Delhi, and stayed there recovering, while the band continued its tour.. So who was it who spoke to Carlton ? Billy Strayhorn ?  or Harry Carney , the official deputy band leader ? (Strayhorn filled the Duke’s spot at the piano) ..Our opinion is that it was probably Carney, who as deputy, would have the authority to allow Carlton to sit in on the rehearsal.

We dont know for sure, but in Carlton’s memory was the Duke..and so it shall be for the purposes of this story !

The Indian Express, Madras , October 1963, accurately reported “ELLINGTONIANS STORM MADRAS” …and here is the review and some details of the band’s schedule 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 !!


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

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!

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

We mourn the passing of Niranjan Jhaveri – a passionate jazz fan, whose hard work, dedication and sheer love for the music propelled India into the eye of the Jazz World. Niranjan was a visionary who realized that Indian Classical vocal training was the ideal foundation for training a jazz vocalist…and his astute analysis led him to create JVI – the Jazz Vocal Institute through which he educated a worldwide audience and brought singers from all over the world to India to study and integrate India’s classical vocal tradition.

To his longtime friends he was simply “Niru” and some of their thoughts are shared below:

“Niranjan’s passing away means the end of my 50 year old friendship. He was primarily responsible for bringing jazz to India by organising jazz festivals since 1978. ” Soli

“It is a sad end to a courageous fighter against his cancer. There are so many memories over the decades of a good friend and a great lover and fighter for jazz in India.” Promodh

“I’ve often wondered how jazz would have developed in India if there had not been Niru Jhaveri. He was a game-maker and a game-changer. God rest him.” Stanley

“He put into reality many of the things that we were hoping to do..its been a long and deep friendship .there is too much to say”
“When  we were still listening to Eddie Condon and Mugsy Spanier it was Niru who introduced us to Dizzy and Charlie Parker”


” I am deeply saddened by Niru’s passing. To me, he was the man who put India on the jazz map with those outstanding jazz Yatras from 1978 to about 1990. Prior to that, old timers used to wistfully talk of having heard Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck and maybe Jack Teagarden in Bombay or Calcutta. ……after the departure from Bombay in the mid 70s of Jehangir Dalal, Soli Sorabjee, Manek Davar and others to various places, Niru took up the challenge and had the drive to bring big jazz stars to India. I think we should stage at least one Jazz festival in India in Niru’s honour. He deserves no less.
I’m sure he is enjoying meeting all his favourite jazz musicians he has gone to join!
Goodbye, Niranjan.”

Our condolences to the Jhaveri family who were so gracious and generous with their assistance during our filming..

We were fortunate to be able spend some time with Niranjan in 2009 and document his thoughts and story on film Sometime later this week , I will post a brief video edit from that interview

In the meanwhile, you can see an extended video edit that incorporates conversations with Niranjan , here