In 1935, a violinist from Minnesota named Leon Abbey brought the first African-American jazz band to Bombay, leaving a legacy that would last three decades. Over the next few years, swing would find its way to the streets of India as it influenced Hindi film musicthe very soundtrack of Indian life. The optimism of jazz became an important element in the tunes that echoed the hopes of newly independent India.Taj Mahal Foxtrot
book tells the story of Indiaand especially the city of Bombaythrough the lives of a menagerie of geniuses, strivers and eccentrics, both Indian and American, who helped jazz find a home in the sweaty subcontinent. They include the burly African-American pianist Teddy Weatherford; the Goan trumpet player Frank Fernand, whose epiphanic encounter with Gandhi in 1944 drove him to try to give jazz an Indian voice; Chic Chocolate, who was known as the Louis Armstrong
of India; Anthony Gonsalves, who lent his name to one of the most popular Hindi film tunes ever; and many more.Taj Mahal Foxtrot
, at its heart, is a history of India in swing time.