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When in Paris, I went to many jazz clubs. I visited jazz clubs because many African Americans went to jazz clubs in the 1920s to perform. It was the scene. African Americans gave Paris the gift of jazz. So, I believed that when I went to Paris, I would see many African Americans and many people of color.
But that was not the case. In many of the situations, when I visited the Parisian jazz clubs, many of the people were not black. There were Parisians, Germans, people from Geneva (oh my), but not people of color. I was very surprised that this was a consistency in Paris. I really didn’t see that many people of color in Paris at all except for my mediated African American Tours.
This is an interesting thought because of the notion of jazz and Paris. To add to the idea of jazz in Paris, a racial and religious divide was created. According to Asukile, jazz was condemned:
“This type of condemnation of jazz as essentially immoral and destructive by some white Americans was the backdrop to a national debate that made [Joel Augustus] Rogers’ ‘Jazz at Home’ even more important. During the 1920s many white Americans would have vehemently disagreed with Rogers identifying the future of jazz with democracy. Rogers opened ‘Jazz at Home’ with the following statement: ‘Jazz is a marvel of parado: too fundamentally human, at least as modern humanity goes, to be typically racial, too international to be characteristically national, too much abroad in the world to have a special home.’(Asukile 24).
I think this approach is interesting because, while abroad, I thought that I would experience jazz as an international aspect, but instead it was extremely branded, even in the “authentic” jazz clubs that I went to. As a sign of the times I thought that this definition would change with it. And I guess it did in some ways, specifically the racial identity of jazz. Regardless, the music was fabulous and the food was phenomenal.
Takeaway: The takeaway is that jazz is seemingly becoming hard to describe. The books and music charts hint that jazz is racially one way. However, the audience seems to pull it in another way. I just wanted to make note of my observation of the color contrast in the jazz club and it’s shift from being one race to another. I’m not sure if this is gentrification of music or not? And if so what does this mean? Is it good that new people are appreciating this music? Or is it bad that people are polarizing the music?