Mumbai: Here’s an opportunity to get to know more about Louis Banks - The godfather of jazz in India. Yoshita Sengupta of Life Is Music writes about the legendary musician in a blog titled A Tale of Four Cities.
Here’s Part I of the blog:
The three biggest turning points in the five decade-long illustrious career of Louiz Banks were engineered by ‘Guardian Angels’. In the first of the three part series, we trace his journey from when he was a little boy in Darjeeling to the first career-defining moment of his life.
At 7 am each morning, in the chilly hill town of Darjeeling in early 1950s, Dambar B Budaprithi, a sleepy little boy would sit on the Piano, his feet barely touching the ground. A very serious looking man would sit on the other end; watching, listening. Sometimes, as the little boy ran his pudgy fingers through the scales, an unexpected whack on the fingers would come his way. The boy would know that he had made a mistake. A day at school would follow.
Just as the boy stepped into teenage years, he’d started to sit in with the band that played at a British Club in town. The band was led by Pushkar Bahadur.
Pushkar Bahadur was a fifth generation musician who, just before World War II, had moved to from Nepal to Calcutta, which was then a hub for top musicians from across the world. The first in his family to venture out of Nepal and rechristened as George Banks, he happened to come in contact with Teddy Weatherford, an American Jazz Pianist, who had performed across the World with legends like Louis Armstrong. Weatherford invited him to be a part of his band in Calcutta. That’s where Pushkar Bahadur (or George Banks) started his career, in the company of greats. A Trumpet virtuoso, George, learnt the Piano from Weatherford himself and also qualified himself to be a music teacher. In 1945, though, a 41-year-old Weatherford died of cholera. Banks packed up and moved to Darjeeling, back into the lap of the Himalayas.