the Amancio D’Silva official website see: www.amanciodsilva.com
For more info. on Amancio D’Silva, including free music
Obituary. The Guardian (London) September 13, 1996 Pg.
2. Amancio D'Silva 'Integration' Universal.
Time Out (London). 28 July 2004. Pg.100
3. A personal tribute by Michael Costa
4. Hearing the Konkan Dance from Amancio
September 13, 1996 Pg. 16.
JAZZ'S INDIAN HEART: Amancio D'Silva
Text: AMANCIO D'SILVA, who has died aged 60, was a distinctive
virtuoso jazz guitarist and composer.Between 1969 and 1972,
a series of important recordings, built mainly around his
own early compositions, were released, including collaborations
with Joe Harriot (Hum Dono, 1969), Stan Tracey (Reflections,
1971) and other leading British jazz musicians.
musical family came from Goa and his music reflected the
influences of his Indian background. He grew up in Bombay,
where there was a lively jazz scene, and taught himself
to play jazz as a teenager. He gained such a reputation
that the then Maharani of Jaipur, an ardent jazz lover,
became his benefactor and bought him his first decent guitar
(a Gibson). D'Silva listened and learned from jazz played
on Voice of America. Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery
were among his early influences. During this period D'Silva
met and married his Irish wife, Joyce, who was teaching
in Simla. When, in 1967, one of their three children, Stephano,
became ill soon after birth, the family flew to Britain
for his treatment and remained there after their son's recovery.
Jonathan Miller soon introduced D'Silva to jazz producer
Dennis Preston, who initiated the collaborations between
D'Silva and leading British jazz musicians.
his retirement from performing, D'Silva taught first at
Jenako Arts, in London's East End and later at the Krishnamurti
International School in Hampshire. Many of his former students
recall the profound influence he had both on their understanding
of music and also on their personal lives.
stroke in 1992 partially paralysed him and curtailed his
teaching career. In an interview for Jazz Journal earlier
this year, D'Silva made a telling observation on the direction
of the New Jazz emerging in Britain. Although appreciative
of the advanced technical skills of today's young players,
he is not uncritical: "Technically today we are miles
ahead, but . . . no feeling. Why do they have to go play
jazz? Jazz is something from the heart."
was a vegan and committed to a holistic view of life. In
accordance with his wishes, he was buried in a cardboard
coffin in a woodland burial site near Brighton, where a
mountain ash tree will be planted on his grave.
D'Silva, musician, born March 19, 1936; died July 17, 1996.
July 2004. Pg.100.
D'Silva 'Integration' Universal.
reissue is part of a fine strand of LPs from the Universal
archive, smartly repackaged in the wake of Gilles Peterson's
'Impressed' compilations of vintage Brit-jazz rarities.
The albums date from the late '60s and early '70s, when
some high-ups at the major labels, emboldened by the success
of prig rock and psychedelia, tried marketing jazz and improv
to da kidz. Armed with a (relatively) expensive studio budget,
the likes of Neil Ardley, Mike Westbrook, Mike Taylor and
Michael Garrick seized the opportunity, making beautiful,
oddly bucolic music, unencumbered by any American template
or by the stultifying influence of academic jazz courses.
biggest surprise in the pile is by Goan guitarist Amancio
not a name you'll find in any jazz reference books. He was
a fan of Charlie Christian, he played for the jazz-loving
Maharani of Goa, had an Irish wife, came to London in 1967
and was a lifelong vegan. He died in 1996, aged 60.This
album was released in 1969, a few years after another AngloIndian
musician,the late violinist John Mayer, had pioneered an
approach to jazz using Indian
modes and rhythms. D'Silva's playing is less cerebral than
Mayer's but every
bit as compelling, occasionally taking on a deliciously
rough, surfy edge. The
band (drummer Trevor Tomkins, bassist Dave Green, sax/trumpet
pairing Don Rendell
and Ian Carr) envelop him in a swirling, pulsating rhythmic
backdrop as he
reinvents jazz as a music forged in Bombay, not New Orleans.
D'SILVA: A personal tribute by Michael Costa Correa
remember the day in 1991 I was having a drink in a pub in
central London with a friend. I could not help overhearing
a group of young lads talking about music. 'That brilliant
jazz guitarist must be from Brazil' said one. I had to find
out more so I approached the group and soon we got chatting.
I found out that the guitarist in question was a teacher
of jazz and held classes in East London. I attended the
very next session to find a class of some twenty dedicated
jazz enthusiasts following the directions of this man who
appeared to me to be not much older than fifty holding a
Gibson producing music which sounded heavenly. The young
group seemed spellbound. After the session I approached
the man to introduce myself and was warmly greeted. I asked
him which part of Brazil he came from at which he gave a
hearty laugh, paused a while and said 'I am from Goa and
my name is Amancio D'Silva.' He was clearly amused at seeing
the expression on my face but was delighted to meet a fellow
Goan eager to learn to play jazz. We talked for well over
an hour that evening.
to the meeting I attended the entire course but it was not
long before we visited each others' homes. He was keen to
meet my family, in particular, my children who at the time
were studying music at school. He lived in Petersfield some
two hours drive but that did not matter to me. I was determined
to learn and he was happy to impart his vast knowledge of
very unassuming man was truly a giant comparable with other
great jazz musicians. From very humble beginning he rose
to perform at royal courts in India and sealed his authority
with performances in the west notably in London. Not so
long ago I met John Eltheridge, probably the finest jazz
guitarist in the UK, who told me that he used to listen
to Amancio on stage with Joe Harriot aspiring to play like
him. I've had conversations with Esmond Selvyn another great
jazz guitarist who reminisced of the times he spent with
Amancio and Ike Isaacs from Burma, author of many books
on jazz and another world renowned player.
would never say much about himself, all that mattered to
him was playing music. "You must create a mood and
feel music, for without this your music will sound lifeless
albeit technically acceptable" he would say to me.
Most of his teaching was based on the theme that music must
be like the gentle breeze that stirs the heart and mind
of the listener, not a gust of wind that just fleets by.
This belief stemmed from him being a self taught man which
clearly afforded him the time to reflect on the essential
elements that evoke appreciation and joy from the listener
and excitement. Over the years I noted that he never taught
scales or arpeggios etc. rather he would demonstrate on
the guitar his approach to creating a mood. At first he
would say to me that what I played had no effect on him,
in other words, he was far from being spellbound. I worked
hard, spent many hours thinking what I should do to create
that elusive mood.
day I received a call from Amancio to say that he was going
to perform at a Charity Ball in the West End of London.
He added 'bring your guitar for you will be playing with
me'. I could feel my heart pounding. He ended the conversation
by saying 'don't let me down'. I remember the sleepless
nights I had after that conversation. I arrived at the hall
and saw Amancio approaching me. The musicians were busy
setting out the instruments and politely greeted me. I was
handed some sheets of music which I realised were songs
that I had played with Amancio during our sessions. I was
at ease and felt fairly confident. We had played about three
numbers when I noticed that Amancio was in some sort of
discomfort. He turned to me and whispered that he was not
feeling well and, could I assist him off the stage. Fortunately
Joyce was on the scene immediately and between us we decided
that we should take him home. A doctor was called who admitted
him into the hospital. It was clear that all was not well.
kept in touch with the family but two months later I got
a call from Joyce and was told that Amancio had passed away.
loss of a husband and a father is a blow to any family,
but the loss of a man of Amancio's stature leaves only a
vacuum in the lives of those who were fortunate to know
him. I feel his presence every time I pick up the guitar
as if he is ready to guide me in his own inimitable way.
(Goa). June 11 2006
Hearing the Konkan Dance from
Amancio D'Silva's guitar
M. de Malar
was raining heavily last week when I turned up the volume
on Amancio D'Silva's 1972 album, Konkan Dance. The water
cascaded in sheets, an unyielding thrum of raindrops contributing
backdrop for a sinuous, swinging, highly descriptive guitar
line paced by ruminative sax and insistent tabla. I was
transfixed, literally unable to move, loath to break the
aural spell. The room grew still, the opening track worked
its way towards resolution over slightly more than ten heart-stopping
minutes, fading away almost regretfully to leave only the
rain drumming in my ears and an instant certitude that I'd
been listening to music that belongs with the very best
jazz albums I've ever heard, a seamlessly expert intuition
of Indian tone, timbre and timing within the straight ahead
is this music that blew my mind so thoroughly? It's the
last album made by a pioneering Goan musician and genuine
expressive genius who spent most of his convoluted musical
career in London's open-eared music scene of the 60's and
70's. Amancio D'Silva was born in Bombay in 1936, and spent
his early years shuttling between Goa and the city. An excellent
Internet site ( www.amanciodsilva.com), maintained by his
musician son Stephano, says that his early influences came
from the Voice of America Jazz Hour, where he listened avidly
to guitar players like Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall, and
clearly paid a lot of attention to the likes of the peerless
innovator John Coltrane. He also started to tinker with
instruments, and made his own electric guitars.
rest of the story involves serendipity and lots of hard
work. D'Silva gigged all over India, met his Irish-born
wife while at work at the Raj-era Davico's in Simla, and
embarked on a comfortable career as palace band-leader for
Jaipur's Gayatri Devi, the Maharani bought him his first
world-class instrument. But then the young Goan-Irish couple's
second child (this same Stephano) fell sick and required
treatment in the UK – Gayatri Devi paid for the family
to head to the U.K. and there they have remained. Like so
many Goans who arrived in London in that period, life was
a struggle against adverse conditions. But Amancio D'Silva
had a few crucial breaks, the biggest of which was an encounter
with a British music producer named Denis Preston. This
is the man who is credited with inventing the now-overused
term "fusion", who recorded many cutting-edge
acts that went on to become famous.
was paired with a brilliant recording engineer, Adrian Kerridge
(the records sound fabulous, miles better than most contemporary
albums), and encouraged to seek his own sound. The resulting
output adds up to four albums – from the aptly named,
eye-opening "Integration" to the wonderfully original
(but then unreleased) 'Konkan Dance' that is on constant
play in my house at the moment. It's hard to overstate how
absolutely perfect this music sounds even to twenty-first
century ears, how unselfconsciously and wholly Indian and
Western at exactly the same time, how really rocking, seeking,
resolving, exulting Amancio's music is. Like all great works
of art, it feels elemental and rock-solid, as though it
has always existed. In this, it carries strong reminders
of the creative output of another Goan genius who now belongs
to the world (and also weathered the 1960's in London) Francis
Souza, whose paintings again surmounted previous records
at last month's Sotheby's auction of Indian art in London,
Amancio D'Silva created startlingly original art that comes
from a highly sophisticated, extremely knowing synthesis
of East and West. You might think that either man is a one-off,
a chance blip in our still-divided cultural landscape, but
you can't do that with both. Pair them together, and then
it makes perfect sense. It's a Eureka moment; of course
they would have to be Goan, of course their great art is
a consequence of their (and our) mutual cultural reality.
Sadly, there are more "of courses". Of course
they never achieved the kind of recognition that they deserved
in their own lifetimes, and of course most Goans still don't
know and don't care that the likes of Amancio D'Silva once
fearlessly broke down genres and barriers and traditions
with the searing brilliance of true genius.
Voice designed by Goacom Insys Pvt. Ltd., Goa
Goan Voice UK is funded by donations, events advertising and sponsorship
from the world-wide Goan Community