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

Advertisements

THE NEW SOUND


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

THE BASEMENT TAPES


One of the challenges of recounting history in a documentary film is locating archival material. And a film about the story of Jazz, in India, requires authentic archival audio.  Its a constant search , that turns up resources from the most unexpected places..and this post is about an amazing find..the basement tapes ! ..this time from Bombay, via Canada, and not from  Woodstock !

Heres the story..About a year and a half ago, we learned about some old reel tapes that had languished in a basement in Canada, transported there from India by the sister of a well known Bombay musician of the past..They finally go to us, in bad shape, contents unknown, and frankly in danger that old magnetic tape would fall apart..The reels had all the danger signs, cracking surfaces, stretched , and print through (when audio leaks through the layers of tape). Regardless , we finally found an machine that could play this, thanks to our friends at the Institute of Jazz Studies and carefully sampled a few  minutes from each…. WOW..what was in our hands was the only known recording of the Micky Correa Big Band..swinging away, live,  at his very last performance …the farewell concert , Taj Mahal Hotel, 1962 !

It was too dangerous to run the entire tapes..what was most important was that they be transferred.. so it was determined that they be sent to a specialty shop,  where they could be transferred ..so off they went to a specialty shop in Ohio that pulled off as much audio as possible from the two reels that were playable.

A six minute test edit captures part of this story …

NOW ON YOU TUBE

And there you have it .. the Basement Tapes..a wonderful piece of archival history, portions of which will feature in our film…thanks to the Correa family.

Desperately seeking Calcutta


Thanks to friends of this film all over the world, we have accumulated over 700 photos and other documents that will create authenticity and enrich the archival feel of the film. Many are from personal collections including that of Jehangir Dalal, Naresh Fernandes, Nakul Mehta, Niranjan Jhaveri, musicians scrapbooks, materials from Dr. Brad Shope, the personal collection of Micky Correa and others. Their is a tremendous amount of archival material from Bombay but sadly very little from Calcutta..This is hard to understand, particularly since Calcutta had a thriving jazz culture for so many years, and indeed was for a while the center of India’s jazz scene.

We are desperate for archival photos that show jazz bands and audiences at the Calcutta landmarks including The Golden Slipper, Prince’s , the Winter Garden, Moulin Rouge, The Blue Fox, Mocambo..etc. We also need progams, brochures, adverts that reflect the jazz environment of the time.  Especially valuable would be old audio, in any format , that we may convert.  Without Calcutta archival material, the film wont be complete.

Reimagine the clip The Jazz Scene was Calcutta with appropriate  interiors or shots of archival material that could enrich it

Please share this and feedback on any sources that might be able to help us.

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.

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

Our Introduction to Anto


Ajoy Ray in Calcutta introduced me to Anto..Here is the email that he sent:

I just thought of someone still around in Cal who was around heavily in the ’50s, ’60s & ’70s.
Anto Menezes, the vibes player. He’d be able to enlighten us on this area. I used to see him in the ’60s at Mocambo’s on Sunday morning live jazz sessions.. Let me see if I can contact him.

In a live session in the mid – ’70s for our Jazz Club which simply blew our minds was a superb, superb version of “Straight No Chaser” arranged by Louis (who’s this recent ‘z’?) Banks, and played by Braz Gonzalves, Louis himself, Anto on vibes, Bosco Monserate (our own budding Freddie Hubbard) on trumpet, Carlton on guitar, Iggy D’Souza on 2nd tenor sax (a massively leaking one, as Dave Liebman later discovered), Peter Saldhana on bass & Johnny Edmonds (with his Afro) on drums. Wow! I haven’t forgotten, tell Louis.

Thanks Ajoy.

Sad news



FROM: ANJUM

Hi, and thanks for the update. Wonderful to know you got so much great material. Sadly, we lost Anto just a little while ago. He developed gangrene in one leg which had to be amputated, and I guess his heart couldn’t take it. He had a heart attack and passed away. I just got to hear of this, and was planning to write and tell you. Your footage of Anto is probably the last documentation of him.
Warm regards
ANjum

This is really sad news. we met with Anto Menezes on July 26th. Anto’s brother is the swingin piano player , Mohsin, in Delhi. The Menezes family came from Colombo. Anto was a gentle and charming person who loved his music. He showed us his ancient vibraphone which was acquired from a British vibraphone player circa 1946. Anto played for us on this beat up instrument and showed us how he voiced chords with inverted roots etc ..and how he left space for the other instruments.. It was a shock to hear that he has passed on… Anto Menezes was 78 years old. There are many other musicians whose stories we need to capture, we are grateful that we could meet with Anto and document his story. Here are a few pics. ..the one with the piano , according to Anto, is to be credited to Tina Ambani, and is from a magazine article.

CLICK on this underlined link to see an article by Ian Zachariah


Somini has a question


From: SOMINI
Sushil,

Thanks for the update, and congratulations. How does one find georgie, the only upright bassist in calcutta?

Somini

Somini,
Thanks m accordingto Carlton, and Clive Hughes..he is the only “fellow who can play bass” …they have his contacts… George Cheator (spelling) may be found occasionally lugging his beaten up vintage bass in a yellow Ambassador Taxi … Here is a picture of George