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News |  28 Nov 2016 19:39 |  By RnMTeam

Louiz Banks pays tribute to the one true Indian ambassador of bebop jazz - Carlton Kitto

MUMBAI: Tributes have started flowing since the demise of legendary jazz guitarist Carlton Kitto emerged through various sources. Fans have shared their understanding of the influential role Kitto played in the 1960s and 70s through the genre in the then capital of jazz – Calcutta. One of his biggest fans, also a bandmate for eight years, legendary jazz composer Louiz Banks recollects the late guitarist and what he meant for the music back in the days.

“He was a reclusive character,” said Banks on the phone. “An introvert by nature, an extrovert on the stage,” added Banks, on how even holding a guitar would introduce the different side of Kitto every single time. Banks considers Kitto as a “true jazz player” who eventually evolved into becoming the ambassador for the same. “He always focused on jazz. I remember, in the 70s, in Calcutta, people were talking about his show. So, I went to the café where he was performing, and the way he played convinced me enough” recollected Banks on the decisive moment that started the eight-year long journey shared by the two virtuosos.

Banks and Kitto performed from stage to stage and complimented each other in a way that resulted into respective and collective popularity in the live music scene. “Jazz was huge then, and so was Kitto. Eight years after associating with Kitto, I moved out of Calcutta, and shifted base to Bombay. Since then, till today, Kitto and I never performed again.” Things went downhill in the late 70s and early 80s for live music platforms in Kolkata, and evidently the musicians, and upon understanding the situation, Banks asked Kitto to move to Bombay, but Kitto refused. In this 101India’s documentary Kitto agreed that he regretted the decision in his later years.

Although Kitto did try his hand in fusion, Banks informed the guitarist’s admiration and dedication for bebop jazz form was too immense to become ‘second priority’ or even compromised. “He denied the opportunity to perform with John McLaughlin,” said Banks. A maverick for many, Kitto had his own heroes. “He used to look up to Pat Martino, Joe Pass and Jim Hall.”

A few documentaries and homage exist to sum up the untold story of Calrton Kitto, and Banks says there cannot be a better way to sum up describes Kitto’s death than “end of bebop jazz era.”