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"Finding Carlton": Discovering Jazz In India

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This remarkable photograph was taken in the Fifties—the saxophonists and other players are assembled to pay tribute to Benny Goodman. That in itself would not be unusual. But that the tribute took place in Bombay is a surprise to those who do not associate jazz and India.

The photograph comes to us through the kindness of Susheel J. Kurien, the creator of a new documentary, Finding Carlton, a film about the story of jazz in India. Here's how Susheel describes his film:

Through the portraits of a few remaining survivors, it tells the unknown and mesmerizing story of a bygone age of jazz in India. Through archival material and poignant encounters with a maverick bebop guitarist, jazz fans, and other artists, the film uncovers an untold story of cultural cross-pollination: born of pre-war African-American diaspora, American Army presence in Calcutta during the Second World War; and of US State Department sponsored jazz tours in India. The film also illuminates the influence of American jazz on Bollywood. Artfully edited in a rhythmic, multi-layered, warmly intimate and affectionate style, Finding Carlton revives the intense power of a largely undocumented jazz movement, weaving memory, concert footage and expert commentary with scenes of moving reunion between elder Indian jazz pioneers. Centered on human characters with idiosyncratic lifestyles and built around rich archival material including audio, it progressively gathers force to relate the story of an entire Indian jazz generation. Finding Carlton is currently in production and welcomes the support of those who would like to help complete this film. Conceived by Susheel J,. Kurien, a Half Diminished Production in collaboration with Chrysalis Films. Thanks to Mansoor Khan for the “Bollywood" scenes from Teesri Manzil, used with permission from the owner. Please contact: findingcarlton@gmail.com for more information.


And, for more information and other scenes from the film, visit Susheel's blog: bluerhythm.wordpress.com.

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This story appears courtesy of Jazz Lives by Michael Steinman.
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