Archive for » October, 2011 «

Jamalpur Jazz

A few weeks ago, I received a message from Robert Evangelista, a retired electronics professional who now lives in the US, asking if I knew anything about Filipino bands that played in India in the 1920s. His father, Joaquin “Ivan” Evangelista, pictured above, was a violinist from Candaba town in the Pampanga province of the Philippines. He was part of a band that had arrived in India in 1924 and Evangelista stayed in the country until just past Independence.


The Original Turbanator

In the 1950s, Korla Pandit was the most prominent Indian in the US. Five days a week, Musical Adventures with Korla Pandit was beamed to millions of homes across America. Pandit would never speak, deigning only to gaze into the camera with his mystical eyes.  Over the decade, he cut 14 records, winning fans for a unique sound he described as  “exotic and mystic, moody hypnotic music as gentle as drifting as lotus blossoms, as savage as jungle drums”.


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Calcutta’s Hawaiian Summer

Garney Nyss

Garney Nyss was a man of varied talents. He played first division cricket in Bengal for many years. The hockey legend Dhyan Chand was so in awe of his prowess with the stick, he once exclaimed, “What kind of player are you, Nyss? Have you dropped from heaven?” He was such an insightful ornithologist, Salim Ali wanted to co-author a book with him. He was an excellent photographer, and his book Memories is a well-observed record of the India of the 1940s. But between representing his state in hockey for 18 years and making documentary films on Himalayan birds and Mother Teresa, Nyss and his band, the Aloha Boys, made approximately 60 sides of Hawaiian music for HMV in the 1940s.


Happy Birthday, Bridget Moe

                                    Bridget Moe and Penina Partsch

 Today, Bridget Moe turns 85 in Houston, Texas. Her granddaughter, Penina Partsch, who is pictured alongside her, has spent the last few days waking up early to start cooking, making decorations and editing a slide show about her Nani’s life. And what an eventful life it’s been. Bridget Moe, born Bridget Althea Ensell to an Anglo-Indian family in Calcutta, is the last living link in an unlikely cultural loop that connects India to the South Pacific islands, a connection that has enriched Indian music immensely.


A Brief History of Everything

[This appeared in Mint/Lounge.]

One day in 2007, as the historian Ramachandra Guha and I were making our way to a coffee shop in Colaba, we encountered Micky Correa outside his building on the Causeway. It was most serendipitous. The legendary musician had been the subject of the first conversation I’d had with Guha four years before, when I accosted him at a lecture at Mumbai’s Press Club.

I had just finished reading A Corner of a Foreign Field, Guha’s social history of Indian cricket, and had been gobsmacked by the breadth of his vision and the depth of his research. My admiration reached boiling point when Guha described the celebrations that followed Vijay Hazare​’s triple century in the finals of the Pentangular Tournament of 1943. At a reception organized by the Catholic Gymkhana to honour their co-religionist, Guha noted that “three hundred couples took to the floor, swaying to music by Micky Correa’s band…”.

Complete article here.




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