In 1935, a violinist from Minnesota named Leon Abbey brought the first 'all negro' jazz band to Bombay, leaving behind a legacy that would last three decades. In a decade, swing found its way onto the streets of India. 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, 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.
Naresh Fernandes is the editor of Scroll.in, a digital daily. He was previously editor-in-chief of Time Out India, and has also worked at The Times of India and the Associated Press in Mumbai, and the Wall Street Journal in New York. His journalism has appeared in the Hindustan Times, the New York Times, India Magazine, Man's World, Outlook Traveller, Seminar, Columbia Journalism Review, Art and Thought, Wespennest, Letras Libres, Transition, Culturefront and Citylimits, among other publications. He is the author of City Adrift: A Short Biography of Bombay and the co-author of Bombay: Then and Now, 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, an anthology of writing about Bombay. First published in 2012, Taj Mahal Foxtrot was shortlisted for the Economist Crossword Book Award in the non-fiction category and the Tata First Book Award.