Session 16 – Around WWII

Sunday 4 September – 09.30-11.45 (Sweelinck)
Chair: Loes Rusch

Eva Moreda – From Damnation to Tolerance: Jazz in the Earlier Franco Regime (1939-1951)

This paper analyzes the changing and sometimes contradictory discourse constructed around jazz by musical criticism during the early years of the Franco regime (1939 – 1951), alongside with the political, diplomatic and ideological changes and requirements which fuelled those changes. The first years (up until approximately 1944), when Spain was in friendly terms with the Axis countries, specially Germany, were marked, understandably, by a rejection of jazz owing to racial prejudice, diffidence towards modernity, and (perhaps more surprisingly) anti-Semitism. After the end of the Second World War, however, Spain was left without hardly any allies, and, especially with the first symptoms of the beginning of the Cold War, the Franco regime started to make attempts to re-join the international scene on the side of the Western block, trying to revamp its image and to detach itself from past associations with the Axis. Such changes were reflected in the realm of jazz as well. Official culture started to tolerate jazz, and even timid attempts were made to integrate the genre into the highly nationalistic cultural profile of the country, since jazz was one of the musics of the new potential international ally, the United States. At the same time, jazz started to adopt elements of mainstream culture, thus diluting its alleged ‘purity’ to the eyes of some jazz lovers.

Celeste Day Moore – Jazz, Radio, and the Mediation of French Identity, 1944-1961

Broadcast into homes, schools, and businesses, jazz on the radio made questions of racial and national identity part of the everyday lives of listeners in France, its overseas departments, and former colonies. Beginning in 1944 with programs on the American Forces Network, audiences were frequently introduced to American jazz through radio programs. One announcer and scholar, Sim Copans, broadcast for over thirty years on jazz and negro spirituals, teaching his audiences about the history of African-American people and culture. Other well-known personalities included Hugues Panassié, André Francis, and Frank Ténot on the national networks. Given that some of the nationally broadcast programs were difficult to pick up in the provinces, fans also tuned in to regional jazz experts like Jean-Marie Masse on Radio-Limoges or the Hot Club’s weekly program on Radio-Marseille.

As a cultural form defined simultaneously by its racial particularism and universal qualities, jazz offered fans and critics ample room for debate. Young people and adults could hear live concerts, favourite albums, and musical analysis as they went about their daily lives, as a special event after school, or relaxing the end of the day. They listened to heated debates over the identity of jazz—was it black, white, French, American, or African? They heard discussion about its future, the effect of modernization on its authenticity, and arguments that newer forms were no longer jazz. By 1961, jazz had been given its own bureau at Radiodiffusion française but before this moment, its presence on the French airwaves offered a means to define French identity during a period of immense social and cultural change in France and the world.

Apostolos Poulios – Jazz Mania in World War II: A Greek Paradox

This paper explores the role jazz music played in Greece during the Second World War. When German troops invaded Greece and the country was occupied by the German and Italian forces, the Greek audience appeared to be thrilled by jazz music (or what was then considered to be jazz music) despite the fact that American music was officially banned by the German authorities. It is argued that the Greek audience’s obsession with jazz, which has been considered as a kind of resistance against the Occupation Forces, began quite paradoxically due to the Italians’ presence in Athens: in 1942 a number of Italian songs were translated into Greek and performed by Greek jazz bands and singers, most notably by the Greek ‘Queen of Jazz’ Rena Vlachopoulou, who went on to sing most of the first Greek jazz compositions of that time. The paper presents the ubiquity of jazz on the Greek radio, theatrical stages, night clubs and cinema from 1942 to 1944. It also discusses the wartime obsession with jazz in relation to the evolution of jazz in Greece in the post-war period.

Leon Lhoëst – Origins and Development of Belgian Jazz up to WWII

The current Belgian jazz scene is known for its high quality and its great diversity, with players such as Toots Thielemans, Philip Catherine, Bert Joris, The Brussels Jazz Orchestra or Aka Moon. In addition, there is a vast number of professional as well as amateur jazz musicians together with flourishing music academies and conservatories, and a steady increase in jazz festivals. Jazz seems to play an important role in today’s cultural life in Belgium. This is certainly not a new phenomenon. From the early 1920s onwards Belgium provided fertile ground for jazz music. This demonstrated itself on different levels. First there were the great soloists like David Bee (ts), Charles Remue (cl) and John Ouwerx (p). Secondly there were the composers like David Bee, Peter Packay, Gus Deloof, who saw many of their works played worldwide. Many of these musicians formed there own, very successful orchestras, like Stan Brenders, Fud Candrix and Jean Omer. The first recordings of Belgian jazz were made as early as 1927, notably Chas Remue & His New Stompers Orchestra. Author Robert Goffin wrote his important work Aux Frontières du Jazz in 1932.
Almost three years ago, Leon Lhoëst and Katrien Van Opstal, try to make an inventory of the surviving written and recorded material from the period before WWII. Mainly two, hitherto private collections, that have recently become available are being consulted. Important works will be analyzed as to form, melody, harmony and scoring techniques. An attempt will be made to uncover typical characteristics of Belgian jazz during the inter-war years.

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