In 1959, the pianist Dizzy Sal, who had been born Edward Saldanha, was a student at the Lenox School of Music in the Berkshire Hills in Massachusetts. The summer school attracted some of the brightest young jazz talents from the US – and across the world. Sal’s classmates included the brilliant saxophonist Ornette Coleman and the quirky trumpet player Don Cherry.
Each year, the class would end with a student performance. Sal’s turn in the spotlight came on August 29, 1959. The programme (click here for details) includes an original tune he composed called Relaxin’ at Music Inn, named for the resort in which the Lenox School was held. Unfortunately, it’s missing from the album of that evening’s programme. Archivists believe that perhaps not all the performances were recorded and that some bits of the tape may have gone missing.
So here he is performing Wes Montgomery’s Jingles. Gary McFarland plays vibes, while Attilla Zoller is on guitar.
In the 1950s, one of the hottest bands in Bombay operated out of a home on Bandra’s Chapel Road. It was led by a trumpet player named Pete D’Mello (centre, standing), and his three brothers were at its core: Tony played trumpet and piano, Louis played the trumpet (extreme left), while Ralph played clarinet, saxophone and flute (extreme right). Their admirers included Niranjan Jhaveri and Coover Gazdar, the editors of the short-lived jazz magazine Blue Rhythm, who dropped in on the D’Mello home in September 1952. “What impressed me was their approach to music,” Gazdar wrote in the magazine later. “Though semi-professional, their love for jazz was akin to that of a collector, which in itself is something to write about.”
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There are many reasons to watch Chetan Anand’s 1966 film Aakhri Khat, especially if you’re a Bombay nostalgist. The film uses a hand-held camera to follow at 15-month-old toddler lost in the city, dozing where he will and eating what he can.
For reasons that aren’t clear to me, large parts of the film are shot in Mahim, with sweeping vistas of the beach when it was still a vibrant fishing village. There are also shots of the old St Michael’s Church – which was built in 1534. The present structure came up in 1973, six years after the Aakhri Khat was shot.
From the jazz buff’s point of view, the film is noteworthy because the tune Rut Jawan Jawan, performed by Bhupinder, features the trumpet player Chic Chocolate squeezing off bluesy blasts onstage. He died shortly after this film was completed.
Last Friday, Taj Mahal Foxtrot was launched in Bangalore by Maria Saldanha Vinda, sister of the maverick pianist Edward “Dizzy Sal” Saldanha. That’s a photo of the Saldanha family band in 1955, with Maria, the vocalist, in that gorgeous gown. Dizzy is in the beret.
Dizzy Sal, as readers of the book know, received a scholarship to study at the Berklee School of Music in the late 1950s. His classmates included the vibraphonist Gary McFarland, the trumpet player Paul Kelly and the Rhodesian composer Michael Gibbs.
As part of its programme, the college ran Berklee Records, a project that served as a training exercise both for its student musicians and for the sound engineers on its rolls. Each year, it issued new records as part of a series called Jazz in the Classroom. Volume V, issued in 1961, features Sal and his classmates playing new arrangements of tunes composed by the saxophonist Benny Golson.
Sal features on this tune, Haasan’s Dream, alongside Dan Nolan (trumpet), Ted Casher (tenor), Mike Gibbs (trombone), Peter Spassov (drums), Pearson Beckwith (bass) and Bill Fitch (conga). The band was conducted by Berklee instructor Herb Pomeroy, who taught arranging, improvisation and jazz history.