Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story between the Great Wars / Edition 1

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Overview

During the years between the world wars, a small but dynamic community of African American jazz musicians left the United States and settled in Paris, creating a vibrant expatriate musical scene and introducing jazz to the French. While the Harlem Renaissance was taking off across the Atlantic, entertainers in Montmartre, the epicenter of the Parisian scene, contributed enthusiastically to a culture that thrived for two decades, until the occupation of the city by German troops on June 18, 1940.
In Harlem in Montmartre, William Shack takes a fascinating look at this extraordinary cultural moment, one in which African American musicians could flee the racism of the United States to pursue their lives and art in the relatively free context of bohemian Europe. His book is the first comprehensive treatment of the rise and decline of the African American music community in Paris; in it, he considers the international dimensions of black experience in the modern era and explores the similarities and differences of Harlem-style jazz and culture in Europe and America.

Shack focuses on some of the principal actors who played critical roles in shaping the jazz scene in Montmartre—Josephine Baker, Sidney Bechet, and Bricktop—but he also discusses others who opened clubs, underwrote loans, and contributed their musical talents to this unparalleled experiment. As an anthropologist, Shack pays particular attention to the club culture. He describes the musicians' experiences, the settings in which they performed, and the response of French audiences.

Shack's meticulous research and encyclopedic knowledge of Montmartre's jazz culture, including the people and places involved, make this a riveting, authoritative work. Seamlessly fusing biographical, sociological, and historical details, he brings this unique era to life and demonstrates how the Paris jazz scene played a crucial role in legitimizing jazz—both in Europe and the United States.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The late Shack (anthropology, Berkeley) here chose to write about a particularly fruitful time in jazz development. Between the Great Wars, a unique community of jazz musicians and fanciers arose in France, particularly in the Montmartre section of Paris. While never coming close to the vibrancy of Harlem, this community still allowed for the cross-fertilization of jazz with overt European influences. Black American musicians found the level of support inviting enough to move to Paris and often used the city as a base of operations while performing throughout Europe. Shack captures this cultural interaction in a short but powerful book that makes a valuable contribution to the publisher's "Music of the African Diaspora" series. Recommended for music and academic libraries and public libraries with strong music collections. William G. Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520225374
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 9/4/2001
  • Series: Music of the African Diaspora Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 210
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

William A. Shack (1923–2000) was Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. Among his books are The Central Ethiopians: Amhara, Tigrina and Related Peoples (1975) and The Gurage: A People of the Ensete Culture (1966).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments

Introduction
1. Making Noise and Stomping Feet
2. Jazz from the Trenches
3. Le Jazz-Hot: The Roaring Twenties
4. Jim Crow: Sans Domicile Fixe
5. The Golden Age: The Thirties
6. Le Jazz-Cold: The Silent Forties
7. Final Notes: The Liberation of Jazz
Coda
Appendix: Zazou Chants
Notes
Bibliography

Index

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