Celebrating Worldwide Week: France

France’s jazz scene arose parallel to America’s, and many of its early influencers were, in fact, American. Occurring simultaneously with the Roaring Twenties was the Harlem Renaissance, an era famous for producing some of the most influential jazz artists to this day. Many of these African-American artists experienced horrifying prejudices, violence, and lack of recognition for their artistry in the United States. As a result, Europe became a refuge of sorts for black American artists and musicians, with Paris as the cultural hub. Jazz musicians like Bud Powell, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Duke Ellington, Kenny Clarke, and many more, toured and temporarily settled in Paris, helping to spread jazz’s popularity and create a following for the genre spanning continents.

France, never one to be caught simply picking up on someone else’s trend, decidedly made jazz its own. While it may have gotten its start from American artists, France was soon developing its own styles, producing its own successful musicians, and contributing to the evolution of the genre. For example, a style known as “biguine” was developed through the intersection of American jazz and French Caribbean influences in Paris. France also began to incorporate various instruments into their jazz music, with the violin and the guitar creeping into what used to be the saxophone’s limelight.

Tune in Friday morning to hear a range of French jazz artists from the 1930s, all the way through to modern day. We’ll be exploring French adaptations of American jazz standards, as well as original French songs that gained popularity on their own in a post-Harlem vogue era.

Liana Semel is a DJ for the Jazz Spectrum. Tune in to the Jazz Spectrum Monday-Friday from 5am-1pm. Liana plays Wednesdays, 5-7am and Fridays 7-9am.