Ep20. Jazz Diaspora
One of the insights of the new jazz studies concerns narratives of the progress and status of jazz as it expanded and spread throughout planet Earth to other countries and regions.
Bruce Johnson (b. 1943) has written a book on how to think about the spread of jazz throughout the world.
“Jazz Diaspora: New Approaches to Music and Globalisation is about the international diaspora of jazz, well underway within a year of the first jazz recordings in 1917. This book studies the processes of the global jazz diaspora and its implications for jazz historiography in general, arguing for its relevance to the fields of sonic studies and cognitive theory. Until the late twentieth century, the historiography and analysis of jazz were centered on the US to the almost complete exclusion of any other region. The driving premise of this book is that jazz was not 'invented' and then exported: it was invented in the process of being disseminated. Jazz Diaspora is a sustained argument for an alternative historiography, based on a shift from a US-centric to a diasporic perspective on the music. The rationale is double-edged. It appears that most of the world's jazz is experienced (performed and consumed) in diasporic sites--that is, outside its agreed geographical point of origin--and to ignore diasporic jazz is thus to ignore most jazz activity. It is also widely felt that the balance has shifted, as jazz in its homeland has become increasingly conservative. There has been an assumption that only the 'authentic' version of the music—as represented in its country of origin—was of aesthetic and historical interest in the jazz narrative; that the forms that emerged in other countries were simply rather pallid and enervated echoes of the 'real thing.' This has been accompanied by challenges to the criterion of place- and race-based authenticity as a way of assessing the value of popular music forms in general. As the prototype for the globalisation of popular music, diasporic jazz provides a richly instructive template for the study of the history of modernity as played out musically. — Provided by Routledge the publisher.” (bold not in original)
American jazz musicians who moved to Europe
“Two of the most notable jazz musicians of the early twentieth century who introduced Europeans to jazz are Sidney Bechet and James Reese Europe. Bechet made his European debut in 1919, and he was immediately embraced by the French public with a passion that transformed his status to a level that is usually reserved for deities. Bechet was born in New Orleans in 1897, and he proved to be a gifted clarinetist, though he is known as a soprano saxophonist by most people today. Bechet's work is of great historical importance to the jazz genre, because he was soloing with abandon long before 1919! The training that Bechet received in New Orleans prepared him well for the road. "After working in New Orleans with Bunk Johnson and King Oliver, Bechet led from 1914 to 1917 an itinerant life, touring in shows and going as far north as Chicago, where he frequently teamed with Freddie Keppard, a hard-drinker with whom the usually prickly
13Bechet got on perfectly."33 Will Marion Cook, who had studied with Antonin Dvorak, "hired Bechet as a soloist for his New York Syncopated Orchestra in 1919; Bechet played everything from the blues to Brahms's Hungarian Dances."34 Cook facilitated Bechet's European debut later that year, and the Swiss composer Ernest Ansermet was apparently in awe of what he heard. Ansermet wrote: "There is in the Southern Syncopated Orchestra an extraordinary clarinet virtuoso who is, so it seems, the first of his race to have composed perfectly formed blues on the clarinet. I wish to set down the name of this artist of genius: as for myself, I shall never forget it - it is Sidney Bechet."35 The reception of Bechet's music in Europe was the opposite of its American reception, evidenced by the comments of ”(bold not in original)
“Saxophonist Don Byas was touring in Europe in 1946; pianist Dr. Billy Taylor played in the group as well, but he decided to return to America while Byas decided to stay and look around Europe. Byas "looked around" France, The Netherlands, and Denmark for the next twenty-five years... GiGi Gryce, James Moody, Tadd Dameron, Roy Eldridge, Dickie Wells, Kenny Clarke, Donald Byrd, Bud Powell, Kenny Drew, Albert Ayler, Dexter Gordon, Dr. Nathan Davis, Ed Thigpen, Johnny Griffin, Art Farmer, Donald Bailey, and numerous other African-American jazz musicians became jazz exiles after World War H. After 1968, the number of African-American jazz musicians who migrated to Japan and the Germanic countries was about equal to the number who migrated to France. The jazz venues in Paris, Amsterdam, and Denmark are discussed . . . .” (bold not in original)
- Bruce Johnson, "Blurb for Jazz Diaspora: Music and Globalization (New York: Routledge, 2019).
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- Dr. Larry Ross, "African-American Jazz Musicians in the Diaspora," 2002, 19–20. This is an earlier draft published in 2002 of 177 pages, with a draft of the book published in February 2003. The final manuscript was published in 2003 of 192 pages. Accessed November 8, 2022.