Archive for » March, 2012 «

Chic Chocolate’s Brooklyn Bombshell

In 1940s, as the US marched to war, Hollywood pulled up its socks, put on its makeup and got behind the troops. It churned out scores of movies aimed at keeping morale high. Among the feel-good films of the time was Stage Door Canteen, which celebrated a recreational centre for recruits of that name in New York. The film was studded with cameos by such figures as Katherine Hepburn, Johnny “Tarzan” Weissmuller and even the Anglo-Indian actress Merle Oberon.

Category: Audio, Bombay, Jazz  Tags:

Paquita Singh, International Woman of Mystery

This week’s selection from the Marco Pacci archives features two tunes  recorded in Calcutta in 1941 by a mysterious duo who called themselves Paquita and Zarate. Both the melodies are swing standards, though as this postcard they signed for an Indian fan shows, the vocalist and her violin-playing partner are dressed up to perform Latin American numbers. In fact, an advertisement I found on the internet states that they perform Mexican song, music and dance.

I haven’t been able to find out much about the pair, except for stray references to them in Billboard magazine in the 1950s. Even their first names are unknown. One advertisement in 1958 boasts that Zarate and Paquita were “widely known as concert artists and nightclub entertainers [and] are also known as composers and recording artists”. They had evidently released a religious album “containing the hymns and prayers embracing the faith of all people”. The ad said that the record was “receiving favourable comment from all who have heard it and those who already have it in their homes say it should be in all homes”. Other Billboard articles suggest that they spent the 1950s as performers at variety shows in the US that featured jugglers and magicians, in addition to musicians.

Introducing Marco Pacci

Starting this week, Taj Mahal Foxtrot is delighted to include a new selection of archival recordings. On the right, you’ll see a logo for the Marco Pacci collection. It features tracks that have generously been made available by an Italian collector of that name, who has amassed thousands of jazz records from many different parts of the world. He has a special interest in Indian jazz. “I have been always intrigued by the diversified approach that the eastern world has carried on toward the western jazz idiom,” he said. “Thanks to a few English and Indian collector friends, I discovered the rich Calcutta and Bombay jazz age with many local musicians participating to the development of such era.”

Tony Brent, Byculla Boy

“‘I hope this never happens again,’ the headmaster said ominously, as he held the cane in his right hand and slowly flexed and arched it with the index finger of his left hand. He removed his fingertip, the right hand brought the cane down, whacking me three times. My eyes turned red with restrained tears. I walked away clutching my buttocks.”

Category: Bombay  Tags: ,

Jinnah and Jazz

On the evening of August 14, 1947, “the Karachi Club, hosted a grand independence banquet (800 covers were laid) where the cities crème de la crème jostled to felicitate the Quaid”, as Pakistan’s first leader Mohammed Ali Jinnah was known. So began a letter by Mohammed Aziz Haji Dossa that ran in Dawn earlier this week. The newspaper, like the nation it serves, was founded by Jinnah.

From the Dawn website, I couldn’t figure out whether the letter, titled “Remembering Ruttie Jinnah”, was part of a continuing debate about Jinnah’s Parsi wife, but Dossa included a reference that will delight jazz lovers. He quotes a portion of Tai Yong Tan and Gyanesh Kudaisya’s compilation The Aftermath of Partition in South Asia to remind us that “Ken Mac, the musician and conductor who performed at the Cricket Club of India in Bombay, had been flown by a special Tata Airlines plane to perform at this special event”.

Category: Jazz  Tags: ,
© 2018 - Taj Mahal Foxtrot. Design by Reset