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Many Black American and African lives have mattered to the world because their interactions with South Asians have furthered the causes of political liberation, spiritual liberation, and musical liberation. They range from global pan-Africanists to the mentors of Martin Luther King, Jr. who met with Mahatma Gandhi. The global import of Afro-Diasporic music is seen throughout South Asia and jazz musicians have been greatly influenced by South Asian religions.
The session will have two presentations. The first presentation by Susheel Kurien is titled Black, Brown, and White: How Pre – Independent India informed Afro-American Jazzmen. Pre Independent India of the 1930’s was an attractive destination for African American jazz musicians. They spent considerable amounts of time working in India and their interactions with and observations of life around them have a unique perspective. In this talk we will share some of their firsthand observations and opinions of the India they encountered.
The second presentation by Kenneth X. Robbins is titled The Sound Universe: From Maharaja Sayajirao III and Hazrat Inayat Khan to John and Alice Coltrane. The musician-Sufi Inayat Khan, born into a family of musicians supported by a maharaja, came to the West. His view of the “universe as sound” influenced the spiritual search of jazz musicians like John Coltrane. Coltrane’s widow, the pianist-harpist Alice Coltrane, became a guru herself. The discussant will be Professor John Satchmo Mannan, who is a well-known as vocalist, saxophonist , and promoter of the jazz tradition.
Susheel Kurien is a Jazz Guitarist and Archival Historian. He has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Elphinstoned College, Bombay and a master’s degree in Education from Columbia University, New York. He conceived, wrote and directed the film Finding Carlton: Uncovering the Story of Jazz in India. His professional career began as an assistant to a film maker in Bombay, India. He went on to work in multi-media production as an award winning copywriter.
Kenneth X. Robbins
Kenneth X. Robbins MD. is a psychiatrist and collector-archivist specializing in maharajas and other local and regional Indian rulers as well as Sufis and Indian minority groups, specifically Jews and African Muslims. Images of three hundred items from his Indian Princely States collections have been available from the American Committee for Southern Asian Art.
He is co-editor, with John McLeod, of the book African Elites in India: Habshi Amarat (Mapin, 2006) and co-curator, with Sylviane Diouf, of a New York Public Library Schomburg Center traveling exhibition Africans in India, which has been shown on five continents at dozens of venues, including the United Nations and UNESCO. Robbins has published many articles, organized scholarly conferences, and curated exhibits on India dealing with history, maharajas and nawabs, art, medicine, gender and women, Jews, philately, numismatics, and movies.
John Satchmo Mannan
John Satchmo Mannan is a Jazz Musician, Lawyer and Author. He is also the Professor of the American Experience at the College of New Rochelle.