All that Jazz
Paresh Kumar
LOUIZ BANKS: A SYMPHONY OF LOVE   by Ashis Ghatak  Rupa Publications, Delhi, 2021, 240 pp., ₹ 595.00
February 2023, volume 47, No 2

Remember Kasiee Paheli Zindagani from the movie Parineeta? Sanjay Dutt drives the ladies of the house out to a Night Club in Calcutta. Glasses clink, horns and keys come alive as Rekha ascends onstage—and in a red sari she puts a spell on you. Another reference would be Arun Bhai and Meenakshi Mehra from A Suitable Boy and sultry Calcutta evenings providing for a heady mix of jazz and yearning. Both Calcutta and Bombay in the 1940s saw a large itinerant population of British, American and other Allied soldiers. Lads who found themselves in foreign climes with some disposable income and lots of things they needed to forget. Spirits flowed and jazz found a toehold in the East.

Names such as Trincas, The Blue Fox and Mocambo are still ruefully remembered by those who partied in Park Street during the good old days, while the Boxwallahs and brown sahibs tried to keep Calcutta night life swinging in Gandhian India; by the late 60s Naxalbari had put an end to all such frivolity. In the 1980s only wistful memories of the jazz and Dance Dens of Calcutta remained. With the passing of Pam Crain in 2013 and Carlton Kitto in 2016, the only ear candy remained was Shammi shimmying with a Sax.

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