(Last Updated on : 23/09/2014)
Louis Banks is a celebrated Indian film composer who specializes in genres like modern progressive and contemporary jazz, Indo jazz fusion and Indipop. He is often credited as the Godfather of Indian Jazz. He also serves the Indian musical arena as a jazz musician-keyboardist, record producer and singer. His works have also earned him a nomination for the prestigious Grammy Award.
Early Life of Louis Banks
Louis Banks was born on 11th February 1941 as Dambar Bahadur Budaprithi to Nepalese parents Sarswati and George Banks in Darjeeling
, West Bengal
. Louis Banks received his initial training in music from his father and neighbour Mrs. Myers. His father, Pushkar Bahadur, was a Nepalese trumpeter who shifted to Calcutta (now Kolkata
) in the early 1940s to work with a European Band in the city. There he changed his name to George Banks. Grandfather of Louis, Bakhat Bahadur Budapirti, was the composer of Shreeman Gambhira Nepali which was the Nepalese national anthem from 1962 to 2006. Louis Banks completed his schooling from St. Roberts School, Darjeeling. His inclination towards the western music was discovered at the age of 13 by his father as he began playing the guitar
and the trumpet
. His father thus changed his name to Louis Banks as a tribute to Louis Armstrong. He received piano
training from his father and also performed in his band. Louis Banks attended St. Josephs College in Darjeeling and continued studying piano there.
Career of Louis Banks
Louis Banks shifted to Kathmandu after completing his college to play with his fathers band and aspired to become a full-time musician. He also discovered jazz music there. In the late 1960s he performed at the Soaltee Hotel in Kathmandu, being a member of the legendary Weather Report band, for three years. It was during this era when he rejected an offer of R. D. Burman
. In 1971, he moved to Calcutta owing to his discontent in Kathmandu, and there he met saxophonist Braz Gonsalves and singer Pam Craine and created the band The Louis Banks Brotherhood. They started performing at the Hindustan Hotel and subsequently got an invitation for playing at a popular night club the Blue Fox Restaurant which was reputed for its patronage of live western music. This opened his gateway to composing stage musicals and advertisement jingles.
Louis Banks approached R. D. Burman in 1974 himself for joining his troupe in Bombay (now Mumbai
) as the latter was a frequent visitor to the Blue Fox Restaurant. Burman happily accepted his proposal. Banks discovered varied world music genres in Bombay and delved deeper into the rich music scene. Gradually he gained recognition in the city and popularised live jazz at Bombay nightclubs. He formed the Indo-Jazz Ensemble along with the Goan saxophonist Braz Gonsalves in 1979 and composed music on Jazz rhythms and Indian classical scales using the Indian instruments like thavil
. He became a member of the jazz quartet in February 1980 and became a part of the orchestra to perform with Ravi Shankar
at the Jazz Yatra Festival in his renowned suite Jazzmine. Louis Banks also teamed up with Carnatic classical vocalist, Ramamani for forming a group called Sangam which performed in around 60 concerts all over Europe. The group was however short lived. He created the group Rhythm Asia in 2005 along with Niladri Kumar on the sitar
and Taufeeq Qureshi on the tabla
Louis Banks, in 1988, became the composer of the iconic short film on national integration called Mile Sur Mera Tumhara for Doordarshan
. He also composed music for to similar patriotic short films such as Spread The Light of Freedom and Desh Raag. Silk was another band which he formed with Karl Peters, Sivamani and Shankar Mahadevan
. He has been a performer at numerous concerts in which he played with renowned jazz artists like Joe Alvares and Radha Thomas. He has also rendered musical scores to many Hindi and two English flicks including Bokshua, The Myth and God Only Knows. As a pianist, arranger and co producer, he worked on the album Miles from India in 2008 which marked a tribute to the founder of modern jazz Miles Davies. This composition of his got nominated for the Grammy Awards 2008 in the Best Contemporary Jazz Album category.
Personal Life of Louis Banks
Louis Banks is married to Lorraine and the couple have four children named Monique, Neil, Gino and Andre. Gino Banks is a noted drummer and a member of the fusion band titled Nexus.
Filmography of Louis Banks
||An August Requiem
||New Delhi Times
||Kala Dhanda Goray Log
||Aasmaan Se Gira
||God and Gun
||Bokshu the Myth
||God Only Knows!