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

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Rolling Stone India..


We very much appreciate this article published in Rolling Stone India! What makes it special is that the writer is a dedicated, passionate and knowledgeable jazz fan..and indeed was once an aspiring clarinet player

Just a couple of minor corrections on our part..our Ad world days were a very long time ago..indeed we fled that world, with no regrets ..so the honcho status inaccurate clearly,is not deserved…and as for being a gigging NYC guitarist ..we love the notion…but sadly , again cannot claim that role… although we do get an occasional gig or two, they are usually low key and and our renumeration if any..is dinner and a tip jar !!

So with the corrections in place..read on..Thanks Rolling Stone and Sunil Sampat

Who Brought Jazz to India ? Part II


Thanks for the emails related to the previous post

So for those who are interested , we continue the story told in the Presentation at the Institute of Jazz Studies on Feb 16th…this time through the voice of Dr. Brad Shope, on the faculty at Texas A& M…with visuals and a film clip

Part III, will follow , next week

Every picture tells a story…The Trailer


Back from Bombay …and a  week of intense editing at Chrysalis Films..and finally a trailer that evokes what this film will be.

This trailer represents 2.30 secs of over 20 hours of footage, filmed in broadcast standard HD. We have used only a fraction of our collection of over 600 archival photos and the many hours of archival early jazz recordings from India. What you see below are highly compressed files to allow for streaming,. If you are interested in seeing the HD quality version, please contact me.

High bandwidth version:

For slower speed connections try:

Unending thanks and appreciation for my lovely wife and my incredible family for the constant support; and the same for the creative team and collaborators in NYC, Virginia,Kolkata and Mumbai and other cities that have worked on this, right from when we started this journey a year ago. Your shared passion for the project is what has kept me going. Your creative talents set a very high standard that I am challenged to keep up with.  To the fine folks in Mumbai who helped make this trailer happen, you know who you are..your support for this project, both emotional and financial, your advice, creative input, mentoring and friendship is beyond earthly value. To the advisors who took time from their busy professional day to preview this trailer, thanks muchly.your honesty and directness are appreciated and valued.  To the musicians who gave their musical capital so freely and without question, I cannot thank you enough..this film is for all of you. And to the person who said “Saala, drop every thing and just make this film” – your words are better than anything you have written in your award winning movie scripts and screenplays! And of course thank you Blue Frog for  launching the trailer at the fantastic Richard Bona gig!Thanks to all of you who have followed this blog and supported this project because of your love for jazz.

Great Guitars – Via Calcutta


In 1942  ,  two young, self taught jazz guitarists , arrived in Calcutta from  Burma, the eastern most outpost of what was British India.  Fleeing on foot, barely ahead  of the Japanese, were part of Reuben Solomon’s Jive Boy’s..one of the hottest bands in Rangoon.

Rangoon 1940 - LR Paul Ferraz sb, Reuben Solomon cl, Dean Wong vcl, Cedric West gtr, Ike Isaacs gtr

Cedric West’s talents got him quickly hired by Teddy Weatherford and was soon recognized as the leading jazz guitarist in Calcutta.  He appears on many Teddy Weatherford sides.  Cedric West went to England in 1947 and went on to become a respected session man, recording with Nelson Riddle, Quincy Jones and Elmer Bernstein. He was a close friend of Joe Pass. He went on to hold down the guitar chair in the BBC jazz band and is described by Mike Edmonds as “he was a master bebop player and played with his thumb like Wes”.  His daughter Jenny Legget has been generous with providing lots of information about him which will appear in a future post dedicated to Cedric West.

Ike Isaacs went from Calcutta to Mussoorie and played in a hotel there until he left for England on  a scholarship around the same time as Cedric.  Ike was also self taught. Described as a master technician, Ike Isaacs was the dominant guitarist in English jazz until the mid-1970s.  Ike is featured in the list of the great jazz guitarists. He played with all the greats, including a 2 year world tour with Stephane Grapelli. This documentary from Spiros Mavrengelos documentary includes a rare clip of Ike and Grapelli together.  Listen to his story and his masterful playing.  

For the last fifteen years of his life Ike lived and taught in Sydney and became a much loved member of the Sydney jazz community.

Quite a story for two selftaught young men who passed through Calcutta and benefitted from the jazz culture of the time ..and proved to the world that jazz musicians from the subcontinent could be worldclass !   Aptly, many years later, Cedric West released an album titled “West meets East”.

The Paul Gonsalves and Teddy Weatherford – Resolved ?


In a prior post , (see Paul Gonsalves- Teddy Weatherford) my research suggested that the Paul Gonsalves listed in Teddy Weatherford’s Calcutta discography was the Paul Gonsalves of (later) Ellington fame.  Understandably, there were various reactions from the readers of this blog that challenged and questioned this possibility..Thats why we are jazz people..its a personal music !

The issues raised ranged from whether Paul Gonsalves was ever in Calcutta, to an insightful observation that on the Teddy Weatherford recording the listed Paul Gonsalves played Alto, while the real Paul Gonsalves “only recorded on Tenor”

Scroll down on this link to see  comments on that post .

Great feedback!

I continued to research this possibility , and found several sources that authenticated that Paul Gonsalves did serve as a young serviceman in Calcutta, and that he had played Alto in his youth. But, frankly, the reference to the Alto Sax continued to elude me.

I responded:

“Whats also interesting is that unlike popular belief, although he did play tenor in the Ellington band, the real Paul Gonsalves did in fact play alto. (Show me a sax player who cannot double !  )..There are people who   state emphatically that he was only a tenor player, but as I said, show me a sax player who cannot double ! In fact both Coltrane and Jimmy Heath migrated from Alto to Tenor

When Paul Gonsalves  played with Sabby Lewis in Boston, on his return from service in India, in the 46-47  period he played Alto.  In 1948 on a Radio transcription with Basie, he played guitar !

Regardless, we know for a fact that the famous Paul Gonsalves was a) indeed in Calcutta at the same time as Weatherford  b) did play with Weatherford and c) probably played on Weatherfords broadcasts for Armed Forces Radio Service

What is also a fact that the young Paul who was in Calcutta in 1942 or thereabouts had not yet developed his fame or renown, or his troublesome relationship with heroin and alcohol  (that came later in 1950 with the Gillespie band). He was just another young “colored” serviceman in Calcutta – (actually Cap Verdean, not African American)  This probably is why nobody seems to remember him.. he was just a horn playing serviceman”

Just today, I received from Jenny Legget, the daughter of the astoundingly talented Cedric West who played with Teddy’s band from 1942 through 1945 , an article from Storyville Magazine (June-July 1976) on Teddy’s band that clearly states:

” There were however, many “sitters- in” for despite the drabness of the band’s daytime repetoire, at night it was one of the hottest bands in Calcutta.  The most famous of the ‘extra’s’ was Paul Gonsalves , then a truck driver in the Quartermaster’s Corps. who used to borrow an alto sax from the Services’ club and jam with the band”

The article also quotes Reuben Solomon (alto sax) (leader of the Jive Boys) ” When Teddy wanted to play, he could play, but he didnt want to play often. He would get the boys offstage for two brackets with the rhythm section and the front line, more Dixie format, but modern for those days. Gonsalves was there when Teddy had the jazz bit. Teddy, the rhythm section, Gonsalves and myself”.

Thanks Jenny, for digging this up along with all the material on Cedric West,..who will soon have a post on this blog about his guitar talent and story.

Indo Jazz Fusion


We continue to look at the impact of Jazz on India and its influence on Indian musicians.  By the late 70’s various musicians from the West led by Charlie Mariano and other progressives had established far reaching roots in this genre.  “Mahavishnu” John Mclaughlin’s ground breaking work with Shakti is probably the most well known association with Indo Jazz fusion. In these videos we look at the fusing of the jazz culture with Indian music through Indian voices and perspective.

Our thanks to  Niranjan Jhaveri and the Jhaveri family for their participation. We are also deeply indebted to Ranjit Barot and Nirvana Studio for his incredible support for this film project.

Click here for Part 1 of Indo Jazz fusion

Click here for Part II of Indo Jazz fusion

Bridging the World


When Louiz Banks heard a rare 1956 recording of Brubeck and Morello with Palani Subramanium,(see Louiz , Part I) he marvelled at what is probably the earliest recorded attempt at Indo-jazz fusion.

Jazz has the ability to bridge cultures and its African roots and pentatonic underpinnings encourage rhythmic and melodic fusions ..  And this capability has seduced and attracted musicians from both India and the West into creating integration.

shankarindo_jazz1

In the 60’s, two  musicians profoundly influenced and impacted this fusion: Two from India – Ravi Shankar and John Meyer .

Ravi Shankar’s seminal 1962 release,  Improvisations featured Bud Shank (Flute) , Dennis Budimir (guitar), Gary Peacock (bass) and the great Louis Hayes (drums).. he went on teach and and influenced Coltrane,  Buddy Rich and many others.

John Mayer grew up in Calcutta , studied both Western and Indian Classical music and went to the UK.  His pioneering work with Joe Herriott led to the Joe Herriott and John Mayer Double quintet that fused Indian, Jazz and Classical forms.

Click here to read an interesting article from www.congosquarejazz.com adapted by Satyajit Roychaudhury from: Gerry Farrell’s book, Indian Music and the West,  Oxford University Press, 1997

clip_image006

In their footsteps came other Indian jazz musicians who reached out on their instruments to integrate and link these two musical cultures. Among them is the relatively unknown guitarist Amancio D’Silva whose journey is quite interesting.  Thanks to Naresh Fernandes in Bombay for introducing me to his story. I have been listening to his album Integration recorded in 1969. The website www.amanciodsilva.com includes his biography and some of his music.

By the 1980’s Braz Gonsalves the brilliant  saxophonist and composer (who incidentally played with Amancio in the ’60s , had developed his own path into Indo-jazz fusion and along with Louis Banks formed the “Indo Jazz Ensemble” in the late 70’s.  They, and the young master drummer Ranjit Barot, bassist Karl Peters and the acclaimed Carnatic vocalist Ramamani and others merged into the eclectic group Sangam which toured Europe in the early 80’s and went on to peform at the Berlin Jazz Festival.

There are many others who deserve attention for their contributions, including the renowned percussionists Ramesh Shottam, Trilok Gurtu, singer Asha Puthli,  and of course Waterfront, the legendary Bombay based pioneering ind0-jazz-rock group (Derek Julian, Roger Dragonnette, Trilok Gurtu , Soli Dastur and others).  More well known in Europe ,perhaps than America, each of them has contributed in significant way to bridging the world.

Did Paul Gonsalves of the Ellington band record with Teddy Weatherford?


In last weeks video sequence,  Paul Gonsalves - copyright Getty ImagesAjoy Ray talked about Teddy Weatherford at the Grand. Later, Ian Zachariah told us a delightful story about Paul Gonsalves and the Ellington band.

It turns out that after moving to Calcutta from Bombay , Teddy recorded extensively while in Calcutta and liner notes from that time indicate that his typical line up (Teddy Weatherford & His Band) included: Louiz’ dad, The Nepali jazzman George Banks (real name: Pushkar Bahadur Buddhaprithi),and  Bill McDermott (tp) George Leonardi (tb) the Burmese  Reuben Solomon (as,cl) Sonny Saldana (reeds) , the swinging Burmese guitarist Cedric West (g,tb) Tony Gonsalves (b) Trevor McCabe (d) Teddy Weatherford (p,vcl)

In May 1943, Teddy recorded with an expanded horn section – adding Roy Butler and Rudy Cotton on tenor, retaining  George Banks,  Cedric West and Reuben Soloman, and adding personnel who may have well been American and other servicemen,

And here lies the mystery – Did Paul Gonsalves of the Ellington band ever record with Teddy Weatherford in Calcutta ?

First ,  there are two points of view about this line up

In the Organissimo blog, there is a post by “Chuck Nessa” http://www.organissimo.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=39779&hl=Gonsalves

that shows the line up for the recording

Teddy Weatherford and his Band : George Banks, Bill McDermott, Pat Blake (tp) George Leonardi (tb) Reuben Soloman, Paul Gonsalves (as,cl) Roy Butler, Ruby Cotton (ts) Teddy Weatherford (p,vcl) Cedric West (g,tb) Tony Gonsalves (b) Jimmy Smith (d) Kitty Walker (vcl)
Calcutta, c. May 1943
CEI22342-1 The lady who didn’t believe in love (rw vcl) Col (In)FB40315, Harlequin (E)HQ2013
CEI22344-1 Out of this world (kw vcl) – , –

and again in May 1994, the same line up , with Bridget Moore replacing Kitty Walker on vcl

CEI22808-1 Ice cold Katie (bm vcl) Col (In)FB40396, Harlequin (E)HQ2013

However, in  Ross Laird’s extensive

A DRAFT DISCOGRAPHY OF WESTERN STYLE JAZZ, & DANCE BANDS & ENGLISH LANGUAGE POPULAR VOCALS RECORDED IN INDIA 1926-1954

those same recordings are identified with the following line ups:

TEDDY WEATHERFORD & HIS BAND

George Banks-Bill McDermott-Pat Blake-tpts; ?George Leonardi-tbn; Reuben Solomon-clt-as; Roy Butler-Rudy Cotton-ts; Teddy Weatherford-piano-vocal; Cedric West-gtr-tbn; Tony Gonsalves-bass; Jimmy Smith-dms; Kitty Walker-vocals

CEI-22342-1 CEI-22343-1 CEI-22344 CEI-22345-1 CEI-22346 CEI-22347-1

The lady who didn’t believe in love (vTW) Out of this world (vKW)

and again

Includes Teddy Weatherford-piano; Willis Mullings-Bridgette Moe-vocals

CEI-22806-1 CEI-22807-1 CEI-22808-1 CEI-22809-1

Thank your lucky stars (vWM) I’m ridin’ for a fall (vWM) Ice Cold Katie (vBM) Goodnight, good neighbour (vBM)    Col FB40395 Col FB40395 Col FB40396

So there we have ,two sources, pointing to the same recordings , one identifying a Paul Gonsalves on tenor, one excluding his sax !

The next question is  – Was this the Paul Gonsalves of  Ellington Band fame ?

See below, in response, the illuminating comments to this post from the two jazz fans who are living repositories the story of jazz in india – Jehangir Dalal and Promodh Malhotra

The jazz scene was Calcutta…


..says Louiz Banks, in a recently posted video sequence… I’ve edited a sequence that recounts some wonderful stories from the days when Calcutta was swinging and syncopating .. Calcutta boasts the first recorded jazz in India, a ‘hot’ tune featuring Al Bowly when he played at the Grand Hotel in 1926. Interestingly India’s jazz history features two famous hotels , the Grand in Calcutta and the Taj in Bombay.  My conclusion is that without these two ‘characters”   jazz in India would not be the same.

The opening audio for this sequence is from a collection of rarely heard tunes (originally cylinders and ’78’s) from a compilation called “Jazz and Hot Dance in India – 1929-1946” ..Among others, it features Al Bowlly, Teddy Weatherford, and Cricket Smith, and in all probability , Louiz’s dad – “Georgie” Banks.   Warren Pinckney, in his essay , Jazz in India – Perspectives on Historical Development and Musical Acculturation (1989) credits finding this collection as the impetus for his research. Thanks to Naresh Fernandes for unearthing and sharing a copy.

 

Click here to check out the the time when the Jazz Scene was Calcutta