( Free CD with original jazz recordings with every copy of the book)
In 1935, a violinist from Minnesota named Leon Abbey brought the first “all negro” jazz band to Bombay, leaving a legacy that would last three decades. In a decade, swing would find its way to the streets of India as it influenced Hindi film music – the very soundtrack of Indian life. The optimism of jazz became an important element in the tunes that echoed the hopes of newly independent India.
This book tells a story of India – and especially of the city of Bombay – through the lives of a menagerie of geniuses, strivers and eccentrics, both Indian and American, who helped jazz find a home in the sweaty subcontinent. They include the burly African-American pianist Teddy Weatherford; the Goan trumpet player Frank Fernand, whose epiphanic encounter with Mahatma Gandhi drove him to try to give jazz an Indian voice; Chic Chocolate, who was known as the Louis Armstrong of India; Anthony Gonsalves, who lent his name to one of the most popular Bollywood tunes ever; and many more.
Taj Mahal Foxtrot, at its heart, is a history of Bombay in swing time.
"Fernandes is among the best narrative historians working in India today, and his new book is a triumph of storytelling. Taj Mahal Foxtrot's got the beat." - Suketu Mehta
"The pictures match the words, producing this jewel of a book, which I read with pleasure, profit, and, above all, admiration." - Ramachandra Guha
"Taj Mahal Foxtrot is musical history as it should be written. It's vivacious, juicy and substantial fare, full of new insights into a little-remembered era in Bombay's jazzy past." - Kiran Nagarkar
"Naresh Fernandes gives music lovers a book that makes you want to take notes as you read it, but leaves you no time to actually do so because of the eloquent writing style that compels you to read on."- Shubha Mudgal
About the Author
Naresh Fernandes is a consulting editor at Time Out India. He has previously worked at The Times of India and the Associated Press in Bombay, and The Wall Street Journal in New York. His journalism has also appeared in The Hindustan Times, The New York Times, India Magazine, Outlook Traveller, Seminar, Columbia Journalism Review, Letras Libres and Transition, among other publications.
He is the co-author of Bombay Then and Mumbai Now (Roli, 2009), a photo-led record of the city’s historical and contemporary concerns. In 2003, he was the co-editor, along with Jerry Pinto, of Bombay Meri Jaan (Penguin), an anthology of writing about Bombay. He also contributed pieces to The Greatest Show on Earth (Penguin, 2011), Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change (Routledge, 2011), First Proof (Penguin, 2005), Elsewhere (Penguin, 2000) and When Bombay Burned (UBSPD, 1993).
He is a Poiesis Fellow at the Institute of Public Knowledge at New York University and is on the editorial policy board of the World Policy Journal.
Taj Mahal Foxtrot is his first book.