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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Black Music In Europe: A Hidden History: BBC Radio 4: April 7


(By Ann Alex)

See Russell's preview below, which gives a foretaste of a programme well worth listening to, which I caught on the 9.30pm repeat. It's the first of a series of 3, all about post-colonialism in Europe, and the music to which it gave rise. Many countries felt impelled to 'reward' their colonies for services rendered during WW2, so they granted  Independence and encouraged  immigration to Europe from places such as the Congo, Algeria, Jamaica and Trinidad.

The narrator, Clarke Peters, outlines how during the 1960's these immigrants brought African jazz from the former Belgian Congo, including a form of cha-cha with politically influenced lyrics. Algerian people came into France, bringing music to the cafes and news from the homeland, songs of exile with strongly eastern melodies. There was much optimism about the future of Africa so music from that continent reached European capitals, along with architecture and fashion.


Davey Graham is a well-known name in folk clubs, but I didn't realise that he had colonial connections in the form of a Guyanese mother. He introduced DADGAD tuning for guitars, which is a North African concept, giving an 'eastern' sound to the playing. This tuning is talked about these days in folk clubs in hushed reverential voices, (I'm not exaggerating) and perhaps guitarists reading this can explain further. I'd bet that jazz musicians have been doing it since jazz first evolved, but I digress.

Martin Simpson explained that this more modal tuning influenced such guitarists as Martin Carthy, Paul Simon and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. It is particularly effective for Irish tunes and is both accessible and makes playing easier in some ways.

Then we heard about the development of the Notting Hill Carnival, which evolved from a carnival festival held in 1964, influenced by musicians from Jamaica and Trinidad who came to England.

The programme was peppered with short musical illustrations, though I'd have liked more of these and longer excerpts. The final tune was Don't Stop The Carnival. Next week we move on to further developments, including free jazz in Sweden. How did that come about I wonder?
Ann Alex

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