© Legendary Musicians of Karachi
Category ~ Legendary Musicians of Karachi
Remembering my dad Edgar Saville and narrating his music journey in his own words:
Sometime around the mid-50’s the Saville household engaged a classical teacher to teach the Saville kids piano. However, this form of music did not appeal to my dad, Edgar Saville. Instead, he opted to walk across the street and stand at the window of a pianist, Tommy Fernandes, who my dad regarded as a phenomenal Jazz pianist of the era.
This continued for some weeks, until Tommy noticed him and invited him in to listen and watch. This routine continued for a long time, whatever dad would hear and watch Tommy play, he would go back home and try and replicate it. This developed his skills as a pianist and enhanced his knowledge of Bop Jazz.
Sometime around the late 50’s or early 60’s my dad joined his first band a quartet in Karachi, I’m not sure if it was the “Moonglows”, but dad was around 15 at the time and they all addressed him as young man or son. He also played or moonlighted with several other musicians around this time.
In the mid 60’s dad joined Dominic Gonsalves’ famous Jazz quartet, with Dominic on sax, Mark Fernandes on trumpet and another gentleman whose name I am unaware of on double bass. Later dad recommended that Ivan Menezes be taken in on guitar as the band needed to acquire the modern sound, also incorporated in the line-up was Sidney D’souza on drums. Thus they were now a 6 member Jazz Line-up. By mid 1968 their contract had come to an end.
By the end of 1968 Happy Minwalla approached my dad and asked him if he would be interested in forming a rock and modern day line up in order to play at what was going to be the Discotheque at Hotel Metropole. Since Ivan, Sidney and dad were already playing together, Norman D’souza (rhythm and vocals) and Noel Ferrerier on bass were taken on-board to form what was going to be one of the most powerful bands of that era, “The In-Crowd”. They would perform night after night at the Metropole, often leaving their audience in awe and the desire for more. One of their famous gigs at the time was when they played at the Karachi American School and Santana’s ‘Black Magic Woman’ became a crowd favorite.
Soon Noel was emigrating to Canada and Leon replaced him on bass. This was the 2nd generation of “The In-crowd”. Norman and Sidney quit the band by mid 1970, thus making way for Willie Po, which became the 3rd Generation of “The In-crowd”. The 4th and final generation was an entirely new line-up, with just my dad from the original line-up. Young Ronnie Pinto on lead guitar, Titus Nunes on rhythm and vocals, Donald D’silva on bass and vocals and Hillary Fialho on drums.
Although the line-up was new, the music quality didn’t drop one bit. They maintained their reputation as great musicians and the famous “In-Crowd” name stood tall.
After “The In-crowd” days had come to an end, dad formed various bands, some of which I can’t even remember the names off, various musicians came and went, they played in hotels from Beach Luxury to Midway House. The one prominent feature in this line up was the then young Maxwell Dias, who I think teamed up with dad, while he was still in his teens. The band was called ‘Ivy’ (The name Ivy was in tribute of the late Ivan Menezes) Dad was rather happy to have found Maxwell, as dad mentioned that Max’s skill was as versatile as Ivan, both on guitar and vocals. They played together a few years before disbanding… other guitarists, bassists, drummers joining and exiting therein. To name a few, Tony D’souza (TJ) on drums, Rodney Judd on guitar, Johnny Rodrigues on bass.
Dad was then asked by Errol D’silva to join them at horseshoe with “The Underground 4”, this did not last very long, as dad happened to meet up with Mr. Hashwani and was offered a contract at the Holiday Inn Islamabad. In addition to the Underground 4, Allan Vanderlowen on guitar and vocals and Francis (Frankie) Anthony were brought in to form what would be called “Communication” a star studded line up was on its way to Isloo, the band consisted of Malcolm Goveas on drums, Allan Dias on bass, Alan Vanderlowen guitar and vocals, Frankie Anthony on vocals and congos, Errol (Ayaz) D’silva lead guitar and vocals, dad on keyboards.
This was the first band that I could recall from memory as I was now old enough to understand music, I was 4 then. And while chatting with Vandy the other day, he was surprised I remembered so much. They were a force to reckon with, people from as far as Murree, Lahore and Peshawar would come to the disco at Holiday Inn just to hear them, one had to book in advance just to ensure that they got a place for the night, weekdays or weekends, the place was always packed to capacity. But like all good things, it finally came to an end in the summer of 1980.
Back in Karachi, dad tried out various young musicians to see if he could get something going, but nothing really happened, until, Norman and TJ approached him to join the ‘Talisman’ in 1981, as their keyboardist was going abroad. They played together until 1984, Iggy being the last guitarist of the band. The band reformed without dad and changed the name as well.
Post the ”Talisman”, dad started to play solo piano at the Sheraton, a daily gig, where he met some old folks who remembered him from the In-crowd days and he was often called to play piano at their private parties. I forgot to mention earlier, that during “The In-crowd” days, the band performed for some very high profile figures, including the then Premier of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, at his family residence in Larkhana.
The last line-up that dad played with, just before he departed, was with one of his first line-ups, with Dom Gonsalves on sax, Sidney D’Souza on drums and Chrissy Carvallho on double bass. They played a few high profile private parties together and enjoyed each one of them as even though it was a good 35 years later, they still all gelled together like as if they never parted ways.
Dad met with a fatal accident in August 1996 and passed away on September 3, 1996. Even though he is no more with us, he’s left behind some fond memories of the musician and person that he was, he gave and shared his talent with many a musician of the yesteryears and some of the current musicians have also benefited from what he gave to music.
Though he’s gone, may his legend live forever.
Jesse J. Saville
(The author of this tribute is Edgar Saville’s younger son, and has written columns for, Dawns Images, Weekly Mag and TV Times in the 90’s)
A rough cut of some classical/fusion jazz by Edgar’s son ~ Jon Saville
Photographs contributed by Jesse and Jon Saville
Artwork ~ by ldg