[Dixielandjazz] FW: Jazz -- East of West ? (Recycled from sources in Great Britain by Brian Harvey)

Brian Harvey pembroke.dock02 at ntlworld.com
Mon Mar 7 04:55:26 PST 2005

> :
> : My Poppadam tol' me
> :
> Although jazz has thrown up an abundance of controversies over the
> years, the one element on which there has hitherto been universal
> is that concerning the origins of the music.
> :
> It has long been accepted that jazz evolved from a combination of
  African music, introduced into America by the slaves, and European dance
> music.
> :
> Now, however, comes a remarkable book, "Jazz Is Where You Sikh It", by
> P. Vencatachellum, which threatens to cause a gigantic upheaval in jazz
> circles by claiming  that jazz had its origins in India in the middle of
> 19th century.
> :
> In a fully documented survey of the beginnings of jazz, Venactachellum
> traces its origins to an eating house in New Delhi where the
> specialities were particular spicy jhals. The resident musicians led by
Ali Zanda,
> specialised in syncopated improvised music which quickly became
> associated with the food being served. It became known locally as "hot
> music and, as the musicians played the "l" out of it, this became
corrupted to
> "hot jhas". From there it was a short step to hot jazz or jazz.
> :
> If this were all the evidence that Vencatachellum was able to provide,
> it would be derisory indeed. But he goes on to trace the spread of the
> music to other towns in India where, during the days of prohibition,
> would get together for what were known as chutney sessions in the local
> Sikheasies.
> :
> Meanwhile the original New Delhi band was gaining a wide following
> among the Sikhs who derived, it is said, great élan from the music. As a
> of this the band became known as the Original Sikhs Elan Jhas Band and
> the leader achieved additional fame when he wrote Ali Zander's Raga Time
> Band.
> :
> Hand in hand with the evolution of jazz in New Delhi was a secondary
> movement emanating from a member of the British Raj in the northern
> state of Nepal. He assembled around himself a large orchestra of British
> Indian musicians which became known as the Nepal White Man Band.
> :
> Also contributing to the mainstream of jazz development was religious
> music and a number of gopal (gospel) singers were emerging, using jazz
> rhythms in conjunction with traditional hymns like "We Pilau The Fields
> Scatter".  And from the workers in the cotton fields came the blues form,
> taken up with some success by a titled woman in the Punjab known only as
> Maharanee (later corrupted by Western writers to Ma Rainey).
> :
> But perhaps the blues movement, says Vencatachellum, came from the
> fakirs  including some elderly female ones known as mother fakirs) who
> Bombay moaning laments as they walked through hot coals.
> :
> Their wailing became so distracting that the authorities banished them
> to the municipal toilets where a special section was put aside for them.
> lavatory seats each had a dozen spikes sticking up and the wailing
> that echoed through the place naturally became universally known as the
> music of the 12-barb loos - perhaps the most fundamental form of Indian
> :
> Vencatachellum traces the development of various forms of jazz - that
> of the West Coast stream evolved by a group of diminutive members of the
> aristocracy known as Shorty Rajahs, the bebop movement introduced by a
> number of seers who transformed the standard Whispering into Guruvin'
> High and the rock 'n' roll style pioneered by Chuck Ber-Beri, who found
> fame with RagaBeating Boogie and Sweet Little Sikhs Teen.
> :
> The Author is particularly interesting when he gives the stories
> behind such jazz standards as Low Down Dhoti Shame Blues, Poppadam Allow
No Music
> Played In Here and You Korma Long Way From New Delhi. He also refers at
> length to the introduction of the electric sitar by Charlie Hindu and the
> contributions made by such Indian jazz greats as Vindaloo Donaldson,
> Rajah Kellaway, Rupee Braff, and singers like Delhi Rice and Chappatti
> He also recalls the pioneering work of the dark-hued trombonist frem the
> south known as "Tanned" Ory.
> :
> Vencatachellum is convincing when he explains how Indian jazz evolved
> into rhythm and blues through the efforts of the Tabla Motown label. And
> is most persuasive when he talks about the bossa nova influence from the
> former Portugese region, led by the talented Domengo Chutney. Domengo, he
> explains, is nicknamed "Mango" by his followers, and since he comes from
> former Portugese region, is often referred to as "Goa Mango" - an
> familier to jazz lovers throughout the world.
> :
> However the author is on rather more treacherous ground when he sets
> out to prove that most of the American jazz standards are, in fact, based
> original Indian tunes.
> :
> He quotes the case, for example, of an Indian potentate who
> commissioned a song from a local composer. The composer completed the work
and, to
> make an impression, rode to the palace sitting on the ear of an elephant
> singing, Caliph, On Ear I Come. He has other far-fetched  explanations
> for titles like Ghee Baby Ain't I Good To You, Whose Sari Now, Dig Urdu
> Urdu and I Call My Sugar Ghandi.
> :
> Vencatachellum has written a recourceful and fascinating book, but I
> am bound to say that if you are a serious student of jazz, in the Brian
> Oxide class, you may find that Jazz Is Where You Sikh It, instead of
> you, tends to India.
> :
> This article is reprinted from Melody Maker and is attributed by that
> magazine to "the almost totally unknown authority on Indian culture,
> Jean Elliot, who has made a bit of chutney in her time and once visited
> Southall"

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