About the book
In 1935, a violinist from Minnesota named Leon Abbey brought the first “all-negro” jazz band to Bombay, leaving a legacy that would last three decades. Only a few years after Abbey’s arrival, swing would find its way to the streets of India as it influenced Hindi film music – the very soundtrack of Indian life. The optimism of jazz became an important element in the tunes that echoed the hopes of newly independent India.
This book tells the story of India – and especially the city of Bombay – through the lives of a menagerie of geniuses, strivers and eccentrics, both Indian and American, who helped jazz find a home in the sweaty subcontinent. They include the burly African-American pianist Teddy Weatherford; the Goan trumpet player Frank Fernand, whose epiphanic encounter with Gandhi drove him to try to give jazz an Indian voice; Chic Chocolate, who was known as the Louis Armstrong of India; Anthony Gonsalves, who lent his name to one of the most popular Hindi film tunes ever; and many more.
Taj Mahal Foxtrot, at its heart, is a history of Bombay in swing time.
Taj Mahal Foxtrot is the winner of the Dr Ashok Ranade Memorial Award and the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize. It was shortlisted for the Economist-Crossword Book Award in the non-fiction category and the Tata First Book Award, in addition to being nominated for the 2012 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research.
About the author
Naresh Fernandes is a journalist who lives in Bombay. He is the editor of Scroll.in, a digital daily, and a consulting editor at National Geographic Traveller India. He was previously editor-in-chief of Time Out India, which has editions in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. He has also worked at The Times of India and the Associated Press in Mumbai, and The Wall Street Journal in New York. His journalism has appeared in The Hindustan Times, The New York Times, India Magazine, Man’s World, Outlook Traveller, Seminar, Columbia Journalism Review, Art and Thought, Wespennest, Letras Libres, Transition, Culturefront and Citylimits, among other publications.
He is the author of City Adrift: A Short Biography of Bombay (Aleph, 2013) and co-author of Bombay Then and Mumbai Now (Roli, 2009), a photo-led record of the city’s historical and contemporary concerns. In 2003, he was the co-editor, along with Jerry Pinto, of Bombay Meri Jaan (Penguin), an anthology of writing about Bombay.
He also contributed pieces to Civil Lines 6 (Harper Collins, 2011), Second Read: Writers Look Back at Classic Works of Reportage (Columbia University Press, 2011), The Greatest Show on Earth (Penguin, 2011), Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change (Routledge, 2011), Reflected in Water (Penguin, 2006), First Proof (Penguin, 2005), Elsewhere: Unusual Takes on India (Penguin, 2000) and When Bombay Burned (UBSPD, 1993).
Contact him at naresh [dot] fernandes [at] gmail [dot] com
Some articles by Naresh Fernandes
*Protest and Aspiration in a Bombay Slum
Co-authored with Michael McQuarrie and Cassim Sheppard in Public Culture.
A visit to the church of Begum Samru, the 18th century warrior-queen who ruled over India’s only Catholic principality.
Twenty years after the 1992-1993 riots, Bombay is a divided city.
*Everybody Loves a Useful Slum
Why the celebration of Dharavi isn’t a cause for joy.
*City of Slums, City of Scams
How Bombay is being held hostage by a nexus of politicians, bureaucrats and builders, for India Today.
A trip to Diu for National Geographic Traveller India.
*The Goan Theory of Relativity
A Karachi journey in Mint.
*Colloquial Music Reflects Changes in Rural Indian Romance
Bhojpuri pop celebrates the cell phone and its varied possibilities.
*What Mumbai Spirit?
Taking the city’s temperature for the New Yorker after three bombs exploded on July 13, 2011.
*The People’s Island
Sauntering through Cuba for Outlook Traveller.
* Selling Democracy (and Tea) in India
Op-ed in The New York Times on India’s 2009 elections.
* We’ve Never Felt Scared
Article in The New Republic on Jewish Bombay, in the midst of terrorist attacks in 2008.
* Dispatch from an Anxious Mumbai
Article in The New Republic on terrorist attacks in 2008.
* The Year of Sons, Soil and Concrete
Looking back on 2008 for Mint/Lounge.
* The Uncomfortable Truth
Article in the Columbia Journalism Review on P Sainath’s Everybody Loves a Good Drought.
* India’s indestructible heart
Op-ed in The New York Times after terrorist bombings on Mumbai trains in 2006.
* New York Diary
Diary for Outlook on the World Trade Centre attacks in 2001.
Looking for pieces of St Francis Xavier.
Jazz Meri Jaan
Radhika Bordia’s India Matters show focuses on Taj Mahal Foxtrot.
Sunil Sethi’s show on NDTV Profit (starts from 6.34)
Jazz Goes to Bollywood
At the Jaipur Literary Festival, Jan 22, 2012.
A chat with Govindraj Ethiraj about City Adrift: A Short Biography of Bombay.
Has Mumbai been numbed by terror?
Barkha Dutt’s We the People show on NDTV, about the terror at 2011 Mumbai terror attacks.