Finding Paris – The French Connection


Alix1

click to enlarge

Between 1950 and 1952,  Calcutta was home to the  “Le premier négre du jazz, made in France” (= The first “black” French jazz musician) – Alix Combelle and the “modern” sound of his sextet – three saxes, and a rhythm section.

We followed up in a  2011 Update with interesting documentation including a photo of the band in Calcutta.

Jhaveri 1955-JazzHot

Next, in 2012- came the French Connection, and our friendship with Stephane Dorin, who shared this documentation written by the remarkable “Godfather of Jazz in India”  – Niranjan Jhaveri, found in  Charles Delaunay and Hughes Panassié ‘s  Jazz Hot Magazine  (1955)

And now in 2013..more news of the French jazzmen in India ? Continue reading

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

ALIX COMBELLE

….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).

Astounding.….!

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:   http://www.stephanedorin.fr
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

UN committee passes resolution – Jazz is the 7th official language


Full length video transcript of UN Finding Carlton , goto 07:30 for India’s Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri, and 19:50 for US Ambassador Rosemary Di Carlo’s comments, your filmmaker at 24:20 , Ambassador Ulibarri seconds the motion at 33:45 and Grace Kelly speaks sax at 42:00

Click on link below

special-event-panel-discussion-on-the-occasion-of-the-international-jazz-day.html

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 ? !

On the Radio – Thanks CBC Radio !


CBC Radio carried the Finding Carlton story on Dispatches with Rick MacInnes-Rae

Dispatches is CBC Radio’s award winning program – broadcast nationally (CBC Radio One)  on Thursday’s with a repeat on Sunday. It is also carried worldwide by Sirius  on Friday night with a repeat on Sunday night on Sirius satellite radio.

To listen to CBC Radio Dispatches coverage on Finding Carlton – Uncovering the Story of Jazz in India click on the link or the speaker icon

CBC Radio Dispatches – Finding Carlton

Thank you CBC Radio, Rick and Alison Masemann (producer, Dispatches) for Finding Carlton !

TUNE INTO DISPATCHES VIA PODCAST AND RSS FEED AT

http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/includes/dispatches.xml

Education Presentation – Preview


We were delighted  to preview our Education Presentation on Finding Carlton – Uncovering the Story of Jazz in India at the RIVAA Gallery , December 11,2011.
Our groundbreaking documentary film  tells a little known story of the Jazz diaspora.  This  inspirational film is a cross cultural journey that is endearing and entertaining while educating viewers on a historical arc that spans from 1926 to 1978.

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

Film Review – On Jazz Lives


Jazz Lives  is written by Michael Steinman..who lives and breathes jazz, and with it all its arcana, detail and the intricacies and nuances of its history. If you want to talk Jazz, talk to Michael !

Here is the Jazz Lives review of the film …thanks !!

A WINDOW INTO ANOTHER WORLD: “FINDING CARLTON: UNCOVERING THE STORY OF JAZZ IN INDIA”

I’ve written a few lines about Susheel Kurien’s new documentary, but last week, the Beloved and I saw a rough cut of it at DCTV in downtown New York City.  I am delighted to be able to write that “FINDING CARLTON: UNCOVERING THE STORY OF JAZZ IN INDIA” is a deeply rewarding film.

Even people who are not terribly interested in jazz in the intricate ways some of us are will also find much to admire in the portraits captured in it.  And the jazz-fanciers in the audience sat up, enthralled, throughout it.

Continue reading

Thank you – Sean Jacobs- Africa is a Country


We are most delighted that the story of this Film is finding a community of interest…all over the world..

Here is Sean Jacobs’ post on the Africa is a Country blog

Thank youSean
Please click here to read his blog post Indian Jazz,  and we reproduce the text below 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