Chapter

Free Jazz in France

Eric Drott

in Music and the Elusive Revolution

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268968
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950085 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520268968.003.0004
Free Jazz in France

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This chapter examines the reception of free jazz in France in the years before and after 1968, paying particular attention to the debates that erupted in the jazz press regarding the music's relation to African American political movements. The identification of the genre with the romanticized figure of the black revolutionary subject, itself seen as an embodiment of a broader, transnational figure—the third-world revolutionary—triggered a heated back-and-forth within the jazz community. For certain critics, this identification threatened to undermine the claims made on behalf of jazz's universality, a cornerstone of postwar attempts to valorize the genre in the French cultural sphere. Yet the identification of free jazz with African American political radicalism also posed challenges for the music's proponents. By constructing an image of free jazz that stressed its irremediable alterity, writers and musicians alike were compelled to find alternative ways of relating it to contemporary French concerns.

Keywords: African American; genre; black revolutionary; political radicalism; free jazz

Chapter.  18336 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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