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 ? !

Thanks StarringNYC !!

We are delighted to share this video about Finding Carlton, thank you Sabrina Buckwalter and StarringNYC.com


Filmmaker Susheel Kurien set out to discover how jazz arrived in India for his documentary, Finding Carlton: Uncovering the story of jazz in India.

What he discovered was far richer and more complex than he expected.
Watch this clip for an overview of the documentary and questions with the filmmaker and vocalist Christine Correa, featured in the film.
For more information on this documentary, please visit: http://www.findingcarlton.com

Eulogy for the Music ?

One of the most gratifying outcomes from our preview screenings and focus groups  for our documentary film – Finding Carlton – Uncovering the Story of Jazz in India is the post viewing discussion. Its fascinating to hear how people react to the story, align with characters, and connect with the larger issues that the film attempts to communicate. It makes it all worthwhile..

We are frequently  asked “Is Jazz Alive in India? Is there a future for Jazz in the big cities of Bombay and Calcutta or Bangalore?   Is there hope for young musicians ?”

We often choose to answer this with a rhetorical response that results in more discussion…and now we have chanced upon this message from a professional musician in Mumbai …Read and decide…. 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 ..it 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

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

FEEDBACK – An Article about the Film

The Indian Express was kind enough to carry an article about the film in both their Delhi and Mumbai editions..We much appreciate their point of view, and genuinely thank them for all their efforts including a very detailed read of our blog and various websites…most importantly we thank them for recognizing the spirit of the film and its focus..and it is very respectful of the musicians involved.

..But we can’t help wishing that their fact checking department stuck with the facts! ..Its nice to be called a professional filmmaker, gain a few more years, to hear that Carlton played with Monk (!) and to learn that we studied with Warren Pinckney in 1981!
While we are at it, can we also lose a few pounds ? 🙂


From the Finding Carlton Team :  Many thanks Georgina and the Indian Express for your kind words and generous appreciation of this effort..!!

Correction: Carlton Kitto did not play with Monk or Dizzy…He did in fact sit in with and/or accompany Charlie Byrd, Larry Coryell, Stan Getz, Dr, Billy Taylor, and the Ellington Band, among others

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

Early Reactions – to preview screenings

We recently screened our work in progress rough cut to invited guests in Bombay and Calcutta..Here are some early reactions and comments

“it was a very sensitive and well written, visualized and conceptualized story about jazz as it was and is…in India….thoroughly enjoyable….
I am so happy that the 3rd generation of aspiring jazz musicians of future India saw the film and got blown by what they saw…it was very inspiring for them ..I hope I get to see your film sometime in the near future……”—-LB
“Thank you for that wonderful trek through history – for me it was a lovely account of the times, not just jazz. [I have these photographs of my parents engagement/wedding in 1959, beautiful women in waisted dresses and very clean shaven men (did they wax their chins or what!), sitting, drinking, dancing – a sax peeping out of a frame. You put all these black & white memories to music last evening, thank you.]

Carlton was a lovely storyteller, he has the smile of a 6 year old, that’s what probably kept him in Calcutta. When your smile grows up, it’s time to leave. Your docu was sensitive, even compassionate,” –MA

“Lovely film Susheel, really lovely, My 19 year old daughter enjoyed it too, so that’s suggest an appeal outside of jazz” —FK

It’s easy to make a straightforward documentary. What you used was in fact a great hook — Carlton. You told the story mostly through a musician who has straddled the generations.
My regret now is I never met Carlton who turns out to be a great guitarist plus a most interesting personality.
You allowed the individuals and the locations to speak for themselves and never seemed to impose your own ideas. That is commendable indeed.If I have one negative to share, it is that there was greater emphasis on a decaying and poor Calcutta than necessary.
By the way, I just loved the drummer with Carlton. —-FM

“It was a rare morning today as your film unfolded the past linked to our own growth period. Finding Carlton has a lot of parallels with The Buenos Vista Social club. Carlton reminded me of the unique characters from Cuba and I realised suddenly how many similarities there were- the loss of music, musicians, our priorities – after 1978-79. I had no idea that Jazz started in India in the 1920’s! As we move on, consolidating our losses, your film floods my heart with the nostalgia. The metamorphoses into Bollywood was amazing. Every person in the film was special and today was special to watch it ” –AL

Bombay and Jazz – A documentary 1992

When we started on this film project we became aware that the BBC had filmed a documentary on jazz in Bombay in 1992..no one that we met in Bombay remembered seeing the video …..so the search was on..

We came across a letter from an H.O. Nazareth , a London based film maker..who appeared to be the filmmaker..the letter referenced Penumbra Films and the BBC as other involved parties.. various attempts to contact the production company directly , including a wild goose chase in London..as well as through the BBC wall of ‘sorry can’t help you, try so and so” turned up nothing..so we put it down in the ” would have, should have, wanted to, didn’t happen’ list…

And this morning, Google in its infinite wisdom turned up a link to part I of the six parts of the documentary – Rhythms of the World – Bombay and Jazz ..In addition to the greats – L. Shankar and Don Cherry …familiar faces showed up..including some friends who participated in our film..(Part 3 – Micky Correa ..and Niranjan Part 4, and also the Sangam band,Braz, Louiz, Ranjit, and in part 5 Sandhya Sanjana)

For whatever reason, its taken many years for this to surface..but its out there and thats all that matters..and makes us wonder whether the fate of jazz documentaries is to roam invisibly across the vaults of production houses (or the BBC?), until some mysterious time, when they appear…

Regardless, we thought it worth sharing this and ..here you go. in six parts ..links to You Tube..a lovely insight from almost 20 years ago !! AND THE MUSIC IS AS FRESH AS EVER…