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The Pianist and the Python

Not so long ago, I bought an album by the trumpet player Bill Coleman, who had performed in Bombay during the 1936-’37 season as part of violinist Leon Abbey’s band. The earliest recordings on the collection were made just a few months after Coleman returned to Europe and I was delighted to see that one of the tracks was titled Back Home Again in India.

It turned out to be a tantalising typo. When I slipped the disc into my CD player, I realised that the tune was actually Back Home Again in Indiana, the song Coleman is performing in this clip. Nonetheless, it’s clear that India held a special place in the trumpet player’s heart. Fifty years after his engagement at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Coleman painted a vivid picture of the life he and his wife Beezie led during their six-month stay in Bombay in his excellent memoir, Trumpet Story.

A Jazzman in Satara

In the mid-1930s, drummer Oliver Tines was a regular member of Louis Armstrong’s band. (That him, hazily in the background, back in 1933.) He was a part of the trumpet player’s Harlem Hot Rhythm outfit and toured Europe with Armstrong. His name can be found in the credits of at least a dozen jazz recordings made in the 1920s and ’30s. So how did he end up spending his last days back of the beyond in Satara, 256 kilometres south of Bombay?

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