The History of Jazz in Paris with Samuél Lopez-Barrantes

The History of Jazz in Paris with Samuél Lopez-Barrantes


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Jazz music was born in New Orleans in the nineteenth century but gained international fame a century later when its greatest musicians moved to Paris. In this seminar, we'll learn about the origins of jazz music and the flourishing jazz scene in Paris in the first half of the twentieth century.

Racism and bigotry are intertwined with the origin story of jazz music. Jazz begins in Congo Square, the only venue in New Orleans where American slaves were permitted to sing and dance. Jazz was an outsider art form. Even the migration of Jazz to Paris is based on racial segregation: an all-Black infantry regiment, known as the Harlem Hell Fighters, was sent to France to fight some of the bloodiest battles of the war. They not only fought valiantly for the USA but they also introduced Jazz to French soldiers. After the war, many American Jazz musicians moved to Paris seeking freedom from discrimination at home and created a musical and cultural scene unparalleled in the world.

Led by Samuél Lopez-Barrantes, a musician and expert on intellectual history, this interactive seminar will cover the roots of jazz in the American South as well as how the musical form evolved in twentieth century Paris. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away from this seminar with an increased appreciation for the origins, history, and ongoing legacy of the most important musical genres in the City of Lights.

Samuél is a novelist and musician who has lived in Paris since 2010. He holds an M.A. in European Society from University College London and an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Samuél teaches literature and creative writing at Paris’ Sorbonne. He is also in an American folk-rock trio, Slim & The Beast, whose self-titled EP has already caught the attention of Rolling Stone France.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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