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Jazz from Socialist Realism to Postmodernism

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Edited By Yvetta Kajanová, Gertrud Pickhan and Rüdiger Ritter

In the 20th century, jazz was an important artistic form. Depending on the particular European country, jazz music carried different social, political and aesthetic meanings. It brought challenges in the areas of racial issues, the politics of the Cold War between East and West, and in the exploration of boundaries of artistic freedom. In socialist Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Poland, the situation began to change after 1956 and then 1968, when the ideologists shifted from the aesthetics of socialist realism to postmodernism. In Western countries such as France and Italy, jazz transformed from a modern to a postmodern period. This volume deals with the impact of these changes on the career development of jazz musicians – even beyond 1989 – in terms of various phenomena such as emigration, child prodigies, multiculturalism, multi-genre approaches, or female jazz musicians.

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Valaida Snow: The First Multi-Instrumentalist between America and Europe

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Abstract: Following the Paris successes of Josephine Baker and Afro-American musical comedies in Europe in the 1920s, the black female trumpet player and singer Valaida Snow (1904–1956) moved to England at the beginning of the 1930s. Snow was already well-known in the US as ‚Little Louis‘ for her style which closely resembled Louis Armstrong’s.

As the German scholar, Rainer Lotz, correctly points out in his Eurojazzland1, African-American music had, even before World War I, a broader circulation in Europe than we might suppose. Lotz informs us not only about concerts and tours, but also about theatrical shows, including dance, and describes, in general terms, the presence of black American artists in our continent. This leads to a crucial point. As we all know, jazz was born in 1917, when the first 78 RPM records were made by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and released in New York by the Victor label. The same band, led by the Italian-American trumpet player Nick La Rocca, was one of the very first to bring jazz to Europe only two years later. It is interesting to note that the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, as a consequence of its arrival to Europe, made more records during their European career than their United States of America (US) career.

The complex (and yet unwritten) history of jazz in Europe was strongly influenced by socio-political factors, especially in the interwar period. France became the leading European country for African-American music, either...

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