Reviews, Notices, Interviews

‘The definitive history of the Indian Jazz Age.’
Marlon Bishop on Afropop Worldwide.  Click here to listen. Read interview here.

‘It’s a sumptuous book and a generous invitation to further research in this fascinating field.’
Brian Morton in  Jazz Journal.

Taj Mahal Foxtrot has many musical, pictorial and narrative treasures.’
Philip Adams, host of Late Night Live, on Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Listen here.

‘An active jazz scene had thrived in Bombay since the 1930s, and Naresh Fernandes tells its fascinating story in his new book.’
Aaron Cohen in Downbeat.

‘It reminds us that Bombay was once a cosmopolitan city, open to new ideas, and that a one-dimensional approach to culture, religion, politics merely stultifies.’
Eunice de Souza in the Mumbai Mirror.

‘Mumbai always sought out contemporary cultural trends from around the world.’
Interview with Nigel Britto in The Times of India.

‘If I ever write a book myself, please God, let it be like this.’
Anvan Ali Khan in the Business Standard.

‘Lively, entertaining, beautifully written and designed…’
Sunil Sethi on NDTV Profit’s Just Books programme. Watch it here (starts from 6.34).

‘Taj Mahal Foxtrot must be celebrated for being a palimpsest of a lost city’s lost music: Bombay’s history is re-mapped through the strains of ancient but freshly-revealed jazz.’
Sharanya in The Sunday Guardian.

‘Naresh Fernandes’ book reminds us not only of a lost history, but equally and perhaps more importantly of how vital it is not to allow social suffocation to break our imagination.’
Vijay Prashad in Frontline.

‘The Mumbai of the three decades from 1935 — a time of intermingling, of civility and of hospitality — is what Naresh Fernandes brings alive in his Taj Mahal Foxtrot.’
Sanjay Sipahimalani in Man’s World.

‘Jazz is essentially four generations old and India has third-generation jazz musicians.’
Sruthi Gottipati on the New York Times’ India Ink site.

‘The real achievement of this book is that Fernandes manages to make jazz a metaphor for city, what it once was, what it could be.’
Dilip D’Souza in Bibilio.

‘If you’re reading carefully, you will see the mark of a writer who has made the city his home, and wants to defend its outward-looking, all-embracing, Bollywood-scented, shit-streaked, happy-go-luck-by-chance cosmopolitanism. It’s a magnificent book…’
Jerry Pinto in Man’s World.

‘Much like the music itself, Fernandes’ research goes on inspired dot-joining sprees.’
Amitava Sanyal in the Hindustan Times.

‘…a prodigious archival effort masquerading as a romp through a century’s worth of ballrooms and bandstands.’
Matt Daniels in Mumbai Boss.

‘When you think of jazz in the early 20th Century you may think of New Orleans, Chicago, New York or Paris. What isnt so well known is that the Indian city of Bombay — now Mumbai — had its own flourishing jazz scene in the 1930s.’
An audio slide show on BBC News. Click here to watch.

‘Fernandes’s research is in-depth and exhaustive…What tops it is the author’s ability to sift through the information and feature the most apt and insightful anecdote.’
Vineeta Rai in The Indian Express.

Taj Mahal Foxtrot is that most rare of books: an authoritative account of a hitherto unknown history…Like the very best music writing, though, it offers much more. Evoking time, place and a whole host of personalities, it creates a genuinely captivating narrative. More than anything else, the prose moves with the rhythm of its subject, pushing boundaries, making breathless associations and swinging like the hottest band in town.’
Dave Stelfox in The National.

‘With the arrival of the book and its excellent online companion, Fernandes…has been warmly embraced by the small kernel of the jazz-lovin’ subculture in India (who write to him saying “Thank you, thank you. Come to Bangalore next. Come to Calcutta”) and by a wider readership who are pleasantly surprised by this forgotten history of flair.’
Nisha Susan in Tehelka.

Ours is a city with little respect for its past. That sad fact stares us in the face from quiet pockets every other week, when pieces of our collective history are often torn down to make way for a new mall. This is what makes Taj Mahal Foxtrot…so important. ’
Lindsay Pereira in Mid-Day.

‘The book…gives us a sense of a Bombay coming into its own.’
Akshay Sawai in Open.

The fluidity of the narration astounds, given that it travels from America to Bombay, to Calcutta, to Shanghai, to Paris, over three quarters of a century, with the smallest personal details, quotes, lines from reviews and contemporary comment woven dexterously in. It impels you forward on a never-ending wave of sound and sense. If history can produce a page-turner, this is it. ’
Shanta Gokhale in the Mumbai Mirror.

Jazz symbolised a Bombay that embraced racial, religious, and economic difference, a dismissal of boundaries which now keep people from pushing themselves to explore uncharted realms of ingenuity.’
Chaya Babu in The Sunday Guardian.

Bombay Jazz of the past by Junaid Ahmed 1

A book ‘detailing the city’s unknown jazz scene in the ’30s and ’40s’.
BBC Newhour.

‘…A superb history of Bombay’s Jazz Age…’
Watch Radhika Bordia’s programme on Taj Mahal Foxtrot on NDTV here.

…Fernandes’ homage to the city’s jazz age captures Bombay in swing time. The men and women who lit up the city, the era of “music without birth control”, the clubs and the small tragedies — all of these are captured perfectly. Get the book, and the soundtrack.’
Nilanjana Roy in the Business Standard.

‘Taj Mahal Foxtrot does a little foxtrot in geography – recreating Paris, Shanghai, New Orleans and, of course, Mumbai in neat, complete strokes – and time, through Independence and before, the 1930s depression, wars and decades that followed. Capturing major figures that gave the time and place its tune, he also weaves in poetry, cartoons and anecdotes on Bollywood’s jam sessions with jazz.’
Interview with Saloni Meghani in the Mumbai Mirror.

‘…I breathlessly read the remarkable Taj Mahal Foxtrot. Subtitled ‘The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age’, the book explores with gusto a strand of musical creativity and expression that deeply enriches our understanding of urban modernity in Bombay. The charm of the story lies in its meticulous attention to the details, each of which in itself might amount to very little but, when strung together, make for a fascinating alternative history…Imagining freedom, in the century that preceded Independence, had an aspect that has not, till now, been probed and made meaningful.’
Sanjay Iyer in Caravan. Complete review here.

Taj Mahal Foxtrot is musical history as it should be written. It’s vivacious, juicy and substantial fare, full of new insights into a little-remembered era in Bombay’s jazzy past.  Fernandes carries his scholarship and research lightly but without ever simplifying the context or the content.’
Kiran Nagarkar, author of Ravan and Eddie.

‘Naresh Fernandes tells a remarkable story with finesse and grace. Combining deep research with evocative prose, he uses the history of jazz to illuminate cultural encounters between East and West. Vivid portraits of musicians obscure and famous blend seamlessly with sensitive descriptions of city lives. The pictures match the words, producing this jewel of a book, which I read with pleasure, profit, and, above all, admiration.’
Ramachandra Guha, author of India After Gandhi.

‘Naresh Fernandes gives music lovers a book that makes you want to take notes as you read it, but leaves you no time to actually do so because of the eloquent writing style that compels you to read on.’
Shubha Mudgal, Hindustani classical musician and columnist.

‘This utterly fascinating book shows what happens when West goes East, and the twain meet, and a glad sound ensues. Essential reading for anyone interested in music, cities, or race, and the most unusual history of Bombay I’ve ever read. This new book is a triumph of storytelling.’
Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City.

‘For several months now I’ve been looking forward  to the publication of Taj Mahal Foxtrot: A Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age by Naresh Fernandes. The extracts I read were … fascinating – intensively researched and extremely well written … Amongst much else, the book will I think, open up some interesting issues concerning the making of culture in the 20th century: it turns out that the CIA (which was also busy promoting Abstract Expressionism at the time) played a considerable part in sending jazz groups around the world!’
Amitav Ghosh, author of River of Smoke, in a post on his blog.


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