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Music and the Elusive RevolutionCultural Politics and Political Culture in France, 1968-1981$
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Eric Drott

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520268968

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520268968.001.0001

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Free Jazz in France

Free Jazz in France

(p.111) Chapter 3 Free Jazz in France
Music and the Elusive Revolution

Eric Drott

University of California Press

This chapter examines the reception of free jazz in France in the years before and after 1968, paying particular attention to the debates that erupted in the jazz press regarding the music's relation to African American political movements. The identification of the genre with the romanticized figure of the black revolutionary subject, itself seen as an embodiment of a broader, transnational figure—the third-world revolutionary—triggered a heated back-and-forth within the jazz community. For certain critics, this identification threatened to undermine the claims made on behalf of jazz's universality, a cornerstone of postwar attempts to valorize the genre in the French cultural sphere. Yet the identification of free jazz with African American political radicalism also posed challenges for the music's proponents. By constructing an image of free jazz that stressed its irremediable alterity, writers and musicians alike were compelled to find alternative ways of relating it to contemporary French concerns.

Keywords:   African American, genre, black revolutionary, political radicalism, free jazz

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