“Finding Carlton”

“Finding Carlton – Uncovering the Story of Jazz in India” is a documentary about jazz in India from the 20s till today.

The movie is about a life story of 68 year old guitarist whose life is dedicated to jazz. His name is Carlton Kitto, he lives in the chaotic city of Calcutta.

Between 1920 and 1970 jazz in India went through rise and fall and Carlton is a living member of that era. He recalls performances with the Ellington Orchestra and jamming sessions with Sonny Rollins at one ashram. He is a devotee of jazz, he taught hundreds of young musicians how to understand music and he still plays, mostly bebop, at half empty hotels of Calcutta.

This is a lovely movie about inspiring musicians it portraits including Teddy Weatherford, Herb Flemming, Larry Coryell, Billy Taylor, Louis Armstong and Dave Brubeck. Unlike some documentaries where the story is compelling, yet the characters are off-putting, the audience fell in love with Carlton and his sweet sincerity and devotion to music at first sight.

Beside these famous names, the movie introduces us to people connected by the love they feel for music, like the singer Ruben Rebeir, devoted jazz fan Farokh Meht and singers Pam Crain and Christine Correa – we watch the radiance on her face when she is able to hear a broadcast of her father’s band for the first time, a music she heard as a child but never new it was ever recorded.

Director Susheen J. Kurien (38), a jazz lover and guitarist, self announced “perpetual guitarist-in-learning”, went with his first documentary under his audiences’ skin. His movie is a result of accurate archival research. With his outstanding sense for detail he flawlessly managed to combine the past and the present, the aural and the visual, the moving and the still.

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