[JPL] Jazz in France

mfa - jazz radio promotion & publicity MitchellFeldmanAssociates at comcast.net
Fri Sep 12 09:42:22 EDT 2008

Jae -

I've got a work in progress that is a history of jazz in Europe with  
Chapter II dealing with "The Jazz Age" there.  Paris, London and  
Berlin were all centers where "jazz", ragtime and other syncopated  
musics were popular.  I'll send you some material about jazz in France  
off list as there is a lot to discuss in that decade alone (Josephine  
Baker alone being a rich topic).  France played an instrumental role  
in the support of jazz.  The first jazz critics were French (the very  
very first was a Belgian actually but from the French region).  Django  
Reinhardt, the first European improviser to make a real contribution  
to the music's development, while technically a "gypsy" was a French  
citizen as was his colleague Stephane Grappelli.  Not much happened  
during the period of Vichy and Nazi occupations of France (mid-1930s  
through WW II) but from 1945 to 1950 Paris once again became a jazz  
Mecca, especially for black Americans who, as also happened after WWI,  
preferred to be expatriates in a more tolerant society where their  
skin color was not a barrier or a burden as it still was in the US.

Also Eric's reference to James Reese Europe and the Harlem  
Hellfighters is right on target although Noble Sissle was the unit's  
drum major when they landed in France and gave their first performances.

[JPL] Jazz in France

Eric Jackson eric-jackson at comcast.net
Fri Sep 12 08:50:06 EDT 2008
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Jae Sinnett wrote:

 > JPL'ers...some help needed. I will be giving a few lectures on jazz  
and one is on American Jazz in France from the end of the first World  
War to about 1950 at Old Dominion University. I need to brush up in  
this category so any recommendations on what to research would be  
greatly appreciated.
 > Jae Sinnett

Although some question whether his music was really jazz, I've heard it
said that James Reese Europe was the person who introduced France to
jazz. He worked with the popular dance team of Vernon & Irene Castle
before the war, providing music that helped popularize a number of
dances. His military unit, the 369th Hellfighters were stationed in
France during World War I. The band also played while they were in
France. They were awarded the medal of honor from the French governments
for their efforts during the war. Europe and the unit returned home
where they led a victory parade in NY. I believe the Drum Major for the
unit was Bill Bojangles Robinson. There is a recording of them doing the
Song How You Gonna Get Them Back On The Farm Again After they've Seen
Paree? Sadly, Europe was killed in Boston in 1919 by the drummer in his
band who cut him on his throat while they were performing at Boston's
Mechanics Hall. In another twist to this story, Roy Haynes claims he
studied drums with the man with the knife.

I went to the Marciac Jazz Festival in France a couple years ago on a
WGBH sponsored trip. There is a statue of Wynton Marsalis right outside
the main square. The building behind it is the Jazz Museum. They had
some very interesting photos, not much memorabilia but it was very
interesting. They did have an autograph wall filled with the signatures
of people who I assume had played there. I took pictures of the wall. I
was just surprised to find a jazz museum. How many cities in the U.S.
have jazz museums?

Eric Jackson
Mon - Thurs 8 pm - mid.
89.7 FM WGBH Boston

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