As I began to upload this week’s piece, I realised that it was article number 54 – which means that this website marked its first anniversary earlier in May without my realising it. When I started the Taj Mahal Foxtrot site, I thought it would allow me to highlight recordings mentioned in the book and to feature tidbits that hadn’t managed to find their way into the manuscript. As it turns out, the website has taken a life of its own.
The site launched on May 21, 2011, with this piece about the African-American drummer Oliver Tines who played with Louis Armstrong in Europe before dying of tuberculosis in Satara in 1938. Since then, it has explored why Mina Kava’s Bombay Meri Hai is popular in Sri Lanka, followed Usha Uthup through her early nightclub years and pored through a book of jazz record art by Manek Davar.
People from around the world have sent me their stories and the stories of their families: Robert Evangelista told me about his father’s Filipino band in Jamalpur in the 1930s; from Italy, Ricardo Fantin sent material about his grandfather, John Abriani, who performed in India in the early 1930s; Patricia Kaden from Cremona told me about how Mena Silas wrote a waltz for her mother (and about how her grandfather shot the film Sabu the Elephant Boy); Penina Partsch described her grandmother’s journey from Calcutta to Hawaii; Maxine Steller from Australia has been sending me treasures every day.
Just when I thought I’d run out of material, the generous Marco Pacci appeared from Italy with an offer to let me feature the records he’s collected over the years. As a result, thanks to so many of you, this website still has a few more months of stories to tell and music to showcase.