Ella, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Frank Sinatra were constantly on the record-player or on the radio, and scat sounded so deliciously fun to the ears of an eight year old. Louis Banks was a household name, and so were Pat Crain, and Usha Iyer, later Uthup.
After all, I grew up a 'Calcuttan', having spent a goodly portion of the first ten years of my life in my Grandad's house at Eight Sudder street.
Jazz is integral to our composite culture. I recently invested some fifteen hundred rupees to acquire my very own copy of Naresh Fernandes' gem of a book 'Taj Mahal Foxtrot', which is Musical History in more ways than one.
Consider this. On August 15, 1967 , the Anglo-Indian band leader Ken Mac was flown to Karachi from Bombay to perform in honour of Pakistan's founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah at the Karachi Club. Jinnah requested the band to play Paul Robeson's "The End", one of his favourite tunes. Ken obliged. Meanwhile, on the midnight of August 14, in India the combined bands of Mick Correa and Chic Chocolate were on stage at the Taj in Bombay, and on the ballroom floor were people like JRD Tata and Vijayalakshmi Pandit, and at midnight, the band let out a swinging jazz version of the Jana Gana Mana, the tune that would officially become the national anthem three years later.
I'm still sipping at Taj Mahal Foxtrot, it's a heady cocktail that you should savour and not rush through at a single sitting. And each day, I learn more about how jazz actually became an inseparable part in the great mosaic of pan-Indian cultural expression.