Jazz in Europe - European Jazz

Part Of: Europe and Jazz

Course Name: Jazz in Europe - European Jazz

Columbia University, Department of Music

Instructor: Wolfram Knauer, Louis Armstrong Visiting Professor, Spring 2008

Time: Tuesday, Thursday, 2:40pm - 3:55pm

Course Number: 72600

Points: 3 points

Course Type: Lecture / Seminar

Bulletin Description:

This course will examine the varied history of jazz in Europe as a history of African-American jazz reception, as a history of the acquisition of musical skills, as a history of a musical and aesthetic "emancipation" and as a history of a productive and self-confident current scene. Topics include the aesthetic understanding and misunderstanding of improvisation and jazz as an African-American music and how the productivity of the music helped to shape the road that European jazz eventually took in different countries. Topics also include a discussion of the diversity in European jazz developments, about authenticity in jazz, and about the recent debate over European vs. American jazz.


The course explores the diversity of European jazz. It will look upon the development of jazz in selected countries, upon specific musicians and how they came to form their individual styles, upon interrelations between the cultural infrastructures of different countries and musical development. We will look at jazz in France, in Germany, in Scandinavia as well as in some former Eastern-block countries and try to explain specifics in the respective music's developments. At some point, and it mostly was a different point in different countries, European jazz came of age, when musicians stopped just imitating the American role models and tried to connect the beloved African-American jazz idiom with their own reality, their own cultural background and socialisation. "Play yourself, man!" was the advice often given by older American musicians when asked what it makes to be a good jazz musicians. The course tries to trace what "yourself" meant for European musicians of different backgrounds. It will discuss the concept of authenticity and how it relates to jazz developments outside the US. In recent years much has been written about the fact that developments in European jazz are supposedly "more advanced" in their aesthetic foresight than what happens in the USA. We will look at this debate and try to find explanations for both sides of it by looking at a transnational globalization in which African-American musical traditions have become a major influence on people around the world.


In-class presentation (pre-midterm or pre-final) (25%)

8-10 page midterm paper (25%)

15-20 page final paper (35%)

class attendance and overall participation (15%)

Recommended reading (general):

Chris Goddard, Jazz Away from Home (New York: Paddington Press, 1979), 9-78

James Lincoln Collier, The Making of Jazz. A Comprehensive History (London: Oxford University Press: 1978), 313-338 (chapter "The Atlantic Crossing")

Eric Hobsbawm, Uncommon People. Resistance, Rebellion, and Jazz (New York: The New Press, 1998), 265-273 (chapter "Jazz Comes to Europe"

Mike Zwerin, "Jazz in Europe. The Real World Music... or the Full Circle", in: The Oxford Companion to Jazz, edited by Bill Kirchner (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 534-547

Mike Heffley, Northern Sun / Southern Moon. Europe's Reinvention of Jazz (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005)

Stuart Nicholson, Is Jazz Dead? (Or Has It Moved To a New Address) (New York: Routledge, 2005)

Additional reading:

Some country studies - -


Michael H. Kater, Different Drummers. Jazz in the Culture of Nazi Germany (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992)

Wolfram Knauer, Deutscher Jazz - German Jazz (München: Goethe-Institut, 2007)

Great Britain:

Catherine Pasonage, The Evolution of Jazz in Britain, 1880-1935 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005)

George McKay, Circular Breathing. The Cultural Politics of Jazz in Britain (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005)


Kevin Whitehead, New Dutch Swing. An in-depth examination of Amsterdam's vital and distinctive jazz scene (New York: Billboard, 1998)


Colin Nettelbeck, Dancing with Beauvoir. Jazz and the French (Carlton/Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 2004)

Charles Delaunay, Django Reinhardt (London: Cassell, 1961)

Michael Dregni, Django. The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004)

Eastern Europe:

S. Frederick Starr, Red and Hot. The Fate of Jazz in the Soviet Union 1917-1980 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983)

Penny M. von Eschen, Satchmo Blows Up the World. Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004)

Intercultural studies with connections to our subject --

Bill Moody, The Jazz Exiles. Americans Musicians Abroad (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1993)

Larry Ross, "Jazz Musicians in Postwar Europe and Japan", in: African American Jazz and Rap. Social and Philosophical Examinations of Black Expressive Behavior, edited by James L. Conyers Jr. (Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2001), 90-114

Christopher G. Bakriges, "Musical Transculturation. From African American Avant-Garde Jazz to European Creative Improvisation, 1962-1981", in: Jazz Planet, edited by E. Taylor Atkins (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2003), 99-114

George E. Lewis, "'Gittin' to know y'all'. Improvised Music, Interculturalism, and the Racial Imagination", in: Critical Studies in Improvisation, 1/1 (2004) < www.criticalimprov.com>

Class Calendar:

Week 1, Europe and its cultural diversity.
[week after 21. January]

Besides discussing where this course will be leading, we take a first look at the cultural and political diversity within Europe and its effects on the development of European jazz. We will hear about traditions of cultural subsidies and discuss how the political status quo influences cultural statements and - more precisely - the development of jazz.

Week 2, Early reception of jazz in Europe.

[week after 28. January]

Jazz conquered Europe in the 1920s, first as a mere fashion, then as an alternative aesthetic to seemingly worn-out European traditions, finally as a music taken seriously even though hardly understood in all its significance and musical implications. We will hear about some misconceptions and discuss the effect of any misunderstandings as possible creative chances.

Names: Eric Borchard, Léo Vauchant, Django Reinhardt, Sam Wooding, Josephine Baker, Sidney Bechet, Louis Mitchell, Ernst Krenek, others

Week 3, The Nazi Period and its effect on jazz in Germany.

[week after 4. February]

Jazz was prohibited during the Third Reich as an inferior and "degenerate" music. We will hear about the reasons for the Nazi ideology to attack jazz musicians and jazz lovers so strongly. We will discuss the socio-aesthetic implications of the anti-jazz propaganda; and we will talk about the consequences of this historical disruption with the continuing development of American jazz history for jazz music in Europe.

Names: Freddie Brocksieper, Emil Mangelsdorff, Charlie and his Orchestra, others

Week 4, Post-war. Europeans begin to understand what jazz is about.

[week after 11. February]

After World War II, jazz musicians caught up with the development of American jazz, trying to grasp the idea of bebop and other modern styles. Tours of American musicians enabled them to hear the music live and understand some aesthetic concepts which hardly come across through recordings alone. We will discuss some of the concepts of European musicians, compare the recorded results with the music of the role models they based their music on, and take a closer look at the question of originality and authenticity in jazz.

Names: Albert Mangelsdorff, Jutta Hipp, Hans Koller, Lars Gullin, Martial Solal, Humphrey Lyttelton, others

Week 5, Jazz in France. Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club de France.

[week after 18. February]

Django Reinhardt has been called the first authentic jazz musician coming from Europe. He clearly was the first European musician actually influencing colleagues in the birth country of jazz. We will discuss his music and his musical development, look at the Sinti and Roma culture from which he came and ask how its own history of oral tradition is similar and/or different from the African-American oral tradition.

Names: Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli, Hot Club de France, Hugues Panassié, Charles Delaunay

Week 6, In-Class Presentations.

[week after 25. February]

Week 7, American Expatriates in Europe

[week after 3. March]

After World War II, quite a number of American musicians decided to stay in Europe. Many musicians made Europe their home base for a certain period of time if not for the rest of their lives. In the late 60s many musicians associated with the AACM settled in Paris for a while as well. And up to this day, there are American musicians who decide to settle in Europe not only because of the different market possibilities but also because of aesthetic, cultural and political differences. We will discuss the truth and the illusions implicit in many stereotypes about European culture vs. American culture.

Names: Chet Baker, Sidney Bechet, Kenny Clarke, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, Steve Lacy, Ben Webster, Phil Woods, Lester Bowie, Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, others

Week 8, The Emancipation of European Jazz. Western Europe.

[week 10. March]

At one point in time (and it was a different point in different countries), European musicians took the cue from their American role models and started to experiment with "playing themselves". They started to expand the idiom of jazz as they learned it from records and through the musicians they admired and to incorporate musical elements from their own cultures. We will look at this turning point in several countries (for instance Germany, France, England, Netherlands or Scandinavia) and discuss how some of these experiments worked or did not work and where they were leading. We will also discuss the concept of authenticity in jazz and how it relates to jazz developments outside the US.

Names: Albert Mangelsdorff, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Jan Garbarek, Michel Portal, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Graham Collier, Enrico Rava, others

Midterm Paper due.

Week 9: Spring Break
[week 17. to 21.March]

Week 10, The Emancipation of European Jazz. Eastern Europe.

[week after 24. March]

From 1945 to 1989 Eastern Europe had quite a different jazz history from the West. We will follow the official stance of several Eastern European countries and see how musicians were able to find ways of expressing themselves despite state oppression. We will look closely at developments especially in Poland and the former Czechoslovakia, but also throw a glimpse at Russia (the Soviet Union) and Hungary.

Names: Tomasz Stanko, Zbigniew Seifert, Jiri Stivin, Vyacheslav Ganelin, György Szabados, Mihaly Drech, Zentralquartett, Joe Sachse, others

Week 11, Free Improvisation.

[week after 31. March]

The so-called "emancipation" of European jazz resulted in an especially vivid free jazz movement. Musicians not only found an audience for free improvised music, but also an infrastructure of festivals and venues where such music could be performed, if not even recorded. We will hear about the Free Music Production (FMP) label based in Berlin and similar cooperative movements in the Netherlands, England and France. And we will talk about the difference between free improvised music in Europe and in the USA at the time and its impact on today's music scene.

Names: Peter Brötzmann, Peter Kowald, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Globe Unity, Misha Mengelberg, Han Benning, ICP, Fred van Hove, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Barry Guy, Incus, François Tusques, Michel Portal, ARFI, others

Week 12, European Jazz After the End of the Cold War

[week after 7. March]

In 1989 the wall came down and with it the difference between the political systems dwindled. The economic confluence of East and West, the fact that a new market arose the East, but also a new economic competitor, were accompanied by cultural changes as well. Jazz no longer was the voice of freedom for Eastern Europeans after the wall came down and "freedom" seemed accessible in real life. We will talk about some of the major developments in jazz since 1989, changes in the East as well as in the West and about an awakening of a new self-confidence of European jazz musicians as European jazz musicians.

Names: Der Rote Bereich, Rudi Mahall, Axel Dörner, Die Enttäuschung, Underkarl, DRA, Marcin Wasilewski Trio (Stanko), others

Week 13, From Garbarek to Esbjörn Svensson. The Scandinavians.

[week after 14. April]

In May 2006 Down Beat for the first time ever put a European band on its cover, the Esbjörn Svensson Trio. This spurred a discussion not only in Europe about what makes jazz from Scandinavia so special. We will look at some different examples from the 50s up to today and discuss the "Nordic tone" often noted in recordings of Jan Garbarek and other Scandinavian musicians. We will also talk about marketing, look at the record labels ECM and ACT which were responsible for a lot of such "Nordic" albums, and discuss what effect "hype" can have on the music's real development.

Names: Jan Garbarek, Esbjörn Svensson Trio (E.S.T.), Nils Landgren, Viktoria Tolstoy, Rigmor Gustafsson, others

Week 14, So, Did Jazz Really Move to Europe?
[week after 21. April]

In 2005, Stuart Nicholson's book "Is Jazz Dead? (Or Has It Moved To a New Address)" (Routledge) has been published and raised a lot of criticism on both sides of the Atlantic. Nicholson claims that the avantgarde of jazz nowadays has a much easier stance in Europe than in the USA where cultural political correctness, a lack of broad public subsidies and a supposedly wrong control of the few publicly sponsored institutions (Jazz at Lincoln Center) make it difficult for musicians to take musical risks. We will discuss whether Nicholson's picture of a European land of milk and honey is anywhere close to reality and what may behind the discussions spurred by his polemics.

Names: Stuart Nicholson, Bill Shoemaker, Ekkehard Jost, Francesco Martinelli, Wynton Marsalis, Stanley Crouch, others

Week 15, In-Class Presentations; Conclusion.
[week after 28. April]

Final paper due (date to be determined)

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