European Jazz Develops Differently Than The American Model

Though an American form, jazz, of course, does have practitioners outside the United States. France, especially, has embraced jazz since its earliest days; it can  be said that it all began there with Django Reinhardt in the thirties. Ending France's isolation during World War II, the American troops arrived in 1944, and the first bebop records were not long in following. For more than fifteen years there was no safe haven outside of bebop or New Orleans orthodoxy. Such rare exceptions as Martial Solal or Andre Hodeir only proved the rule.

Jazz Of Thufeil - Django Reinhardt.jpg
Django Reinhardt

With the explosion of free jazz, however, everything suddenly became possible. In Europe it became fashionable to reject the criteria of' 'old-fashioned jazz' at the same time that 'bourgeois' art was being decried.

Jazz Of Thufeil - Mike Westbrook.jpg
Mike Westbrook

Throughout Europe, those rare big bands that were still active abandoned formal dress for blue jeans and left their platforms to mix with each other in an informal alignment that sometimes moved into a fanfare to the audience.

Jazz Of Thufeil - Willem Breuker.jpg
Willem Breuker

The roles inside the band were also called into question, and some small groups went so far as to do without a rhythm section altogether, others reduced themselves to a duo. If such changes were a response to the economic difficulties free jazz - which was not very marketable - encountered, they were also one way of exploring special affinities on a more intimate dramatic scale. With such musicians as Mike Westbrook and Willem Breuker, these 'stagings' sometimes took on true dramatic form.


1 comment: