Review by Willard Manus
idea of this book--not a history of jazz in Europe, but a series of essays
dedicated to the complex, broader subject of the relations between Europe
and jazz--came to me in 2008," confides Luca Cerchiari, a professor
and archivist at Padua University (and author of books on Scott Joplin
and Miles Davis). Joined by two other jazz scholars, one from France,
the other Austria, Cerchiari has put together a 504-page tome, EUROJAZZLAND,
which University Press of New England has recently published in the USA.
Despite its academic orientation, the tome contains much that will be
of interest to the "ordinary" jazz fan. On the human interest
level, it brings to life the European experiences of such (black and white)
American musicians as Paul Whiteman, Sidney Bechet, Mezz Mezzrow, Benny
Carter, Duke Ellington, Stan Getz and Stan Kenton. That these great artists
brought jazz to Europe is a given; what's less well known is just how
much they themselves were influenced by European music. The cross-fertilization
that occurred, not just between Old and New World musicians but between
jazz, folk, pop, sacred, secular and classical genres, was quite remarkable.
In sum, the bouillabaisse that is jazz contains more ingredients and spices
that most of us ever imagined.
"In many cases it is American jazz (and African and Asian jazz) that
looks on Europe as a potential source of renewal...European classical
music has been an inspiration for American jazz since the thirties. It
was so inspiring that it led to the birth of the Third Stream jazz in
the fifties; the Third Stream jazz is a no-man's land between jazz and
classical music...Nowadays many American jazzmen look on Europe as the
home of a freer and more unconventional jazz, which at times leads to
a funny exchange between European jazzmen who look on an America that
no longer exists and American jazzmen who look on a Europe that no longer
exists," is how one contributor to EUROJAZZLAND puts it.
As the editors conclude, the book "proves that jazz is simply too
rich and varied for one country to claim, define, or contain." (upne.com)