And all that JAZZ!!!

This song is from an amazing Broadway Musical and later Hollywood movie —Chicago. If you haven’t seen it do check it out. It deals with corruption, scandal and women’s rebellion against the spaces they were forced into by the society at the time of the Jazz Age. I saw the show and the movie and I think the movie did a rocking good job of it. It stars Catherine Zeta Jones, Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere, go on, what do you have to lose?!

April 30th is International Jazz Day which I really didn’t know when I started putting this post together, just in time for it! I was just struck one day by how so many of my favourite songs seemed to have some jazz elements to it and started looking into it.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Since the 1920s jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It played off with and contributed to many social changes taking place at the same time such as the flapper fashions, the Women’s Liberation Movement and all those at the fringes who wanted to rebel against the set standards of society.

Here is the flapper style dance brilliantly choreographed in Zoya Akhtar’s movie Dil Dhadakne Do. I love the way she brings out women’s empowerment as well as relationship dynamics issues not only in the main story but also in subtle ways like this song.

Jazz is a musical form that relies on improvisation and rhythmic urgency requiring the musicians to be inventive and create music on the spot! So of course RD Burman loved the genre and incorporated it in so many of his songs.

But how did Jazz first reach Bollywood? Apparently a legend of the 1930s –Leon Abbey, brought a band to Bombay, which became a resident band. Soon, ballrooms and nightclubs became jazz hubs, where the British and Europeans found a refuge from anti-colonial sentiments building up outside. Indian elites, aristocrats and other public servants also took to the high jazzy life, particularly at the Taj Mahal Hotel ballroom in Bombay.

 

Owing to their early exposure to Portuguese and European culture and their music, Goan and Anglo-Indian musicians dominated this era and after independence, these musicians found their way into the Bollywood industry and had a profound sense of orchestral arrangements and full scale music. They assisted music director legends like Shankar Jaikishan, O. P. Nayyar, Laxmikant Pyarelal, and inevitably fused jazzy sounds with Indian arrangements. Chic Chocolate assisted C. Ramachandra to bring swing to Bollywood, through songs like Ina Mina Dika, Gore Gore and Chris Perry’s signature tunes can be noticed in the music for Kabhi Kabhi and Trishul. Frank Fernand is popular for Don, Zanjeer, Hera Pheri, Barsat and Victoria No. 203.

While jazz was influencing Bollywood, blending in easily with classical Indian music, Indo-jazz was also an emerging genre. The 1940’s was a great time of musical cultural exchange between Indian and the West, with The Beatles coming to India and Ravi Shankar gaining popularity worldwide. Pioneered by Ravi Shankar, John Coltrane, John Mayer and John McLaughlin, Indo-jazz fused sax, guitar, bass and drums with tabla, sitar and the violin. From the ever sexy Piya tu ab toh aaja to the opening saxophone in Badtameez dil, Indians have been steeped in jazz since forever !

 

From the peppy songs to the soulful ones, it is everywhere !

Apparently this sultry song even had to be cut from the theatre release because of the disturbance it created in the audience.

I am curating a second part to this post because there are simply too many fabulous songs to share but I am going to close here with this song form Taxi no. 9-2-11 because I just CANNOT get over how COOL Nana Patekar is here with his body language and dance moves. Please people, stop making him behave so intense and almost deranged and emo all the time. Give him a dapper suit, a saxophone and let him JAZZ it up !!

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