Chic Chocolate (1916 – May 1967) born Antonio Xavier Vaz, was a Goan trumpeter who led a Jazz band at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay and was one of Bombay’s best known jazz musicians. He was also a Hindi film music composer and played trumpet in various soundtracks.
Early life and influences
Chic was born Antonio Xavier Vaz in Aldona in 1916. He learned music at his local parochial school and, despite the wishes of his mother who wanted him to earn a "respectable" living as a mechanic, he followed his dreams of a life playing music.
Influenced by Louis Armstrong, Chic styled himself after his great jazz hero—Chocolate's trumpet playing and "scatting" technique were a tribute to Armstrong. His stage presence has been recognized as dramatic, with accounts reporting that the musician would fall on one knee, while raising his instrument to the stars, during the band's crescendo. Chocolate earned the sobriquet, the "Louis Armstrong of India", as he not only played jazz like an African American, but also possessed a similarly dark complexion.
By the mid-40s, after had played in Rangoon and Mussourie, Chic had established himself as a popular Bombay jazz musician. He started out with a group called the Spotlights and by 1945 had formed his own outfit, Chic and the Music Makers, beating out 12 other bands to win a contract at Green's Hotel, which was owned by the Taj Mahal Hotel. A newspaper article from the time described Chic Chocolate’s band as "Bombay’s topflight band". Chic Chocolate occasionally led a two-trumpet barrage at the Green's Hotel with Chris Perry.
Like many Goan musicians of the time, Chic Chocolate played jazz live at the night but his days were spent in the film studios, recording and arranging sound tracks for movies. He had a flourishing career as a music composer in Bollywood movies. In 1951, he began his career as a music director with the movie Nadaan. Nadaan had a popular track list, including songs like Talat Mahmood's Aa Teri Tasvir Bana Lu and Lata Mangeshkar’s Sari Duniya Ko Piichhe Chodkar.
Chic Chocolate was an integral part of composer C. Ramchandra's team. Ramachandra is popularly credited with introducing swing into Bollywood with tunes such as Gore Gore O Banke Chore from Samadhi and Shola Jo Bhadke from Albela. However the credit for these songs is due to Chic Chocolate. Their collaboration in the 1952 film Rangili included the song Koi Dard Hamara Kya Samjhe, sung by Lata Mangeshkar. He is remembered for his work with Naasir in the 1956 film Kar Bhala, and he also collaborated with Madan Mohan. Chic was the assistant music director for the film Bhai Bhai.
Chic’s lives as jazz man and film musician sometimes merged. He had a cameo appearance in the film Albela, along with his band in a song sequence dressing them in frilly Latinesque costumes. Chic capitalised on the film’s success by dressing his band in those costumes in future live performances.
Chic died in May 1967 in Mumbai, aged 51. Shortly after, Chetan Anand’s Aakhri Khat was released. The bluesy song Rut Jawan Jawan featured several close-ups of Chic Chocolate playing his trumpet solos from the bandstand. Chic had lived with his wife, Martha and his children in an apartment in Colaba.
- Naresh Fernandes (July 2003). "Chris & Lorna - Love and Longing in Mumbai's Jazz Age". Goanet. Roland Francis. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
- Shanta Gokhale (2012-01-19). "Jazz like that". Time of India. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- Shope, Bradley (2016). American Popular Music in Britain's Raj. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press. pp. 13, 83, 144, 163–164. ISBN 9781580465489.
- NARESH FERNANDES (2004). "Remembering Anthony Gonsalves". Seminar. Seminar Publications, New Delhi. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
- BBC audio slideshow about the jazz age in Bombay and Chic Chocolate
- Staff (2012). "Chic Chocolate". PlanetRadiocity.Com. PlanetRadiocity.Com. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
- Staff (2012). "Music Arrangers: O Maria! O Maria!". CMAC Presents Women On Record. Women On Record. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
- Chic Chocolate on Internet Movie Database
- on YouTube in Deewana Yeh Parwana from Albela
- on YouTube in Rut Jawaan Jawaan from Aakhri Khat