Migrating Jazz People and Identities
This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book explores the migratory experiences of musicians and their music through case studies of African American jazz musicians (Sidney Bechet, Kenny Clarke, and Inez Cavanaugh) and white French jazz critics and musicians (Boris Vian, Charles Delaunay, René Urtreger, and Claude Luter). It examines the reasons why African American jazz musicians migrated to Paris; the strategies they used to thrive in Paris while maintaining relations with the United States; their mentorship of and collaboration with white French musicians; and their transformations in personal identity that paralleled the music's own evolving racial and national identity. In this period, jazz helped forward illusions of Paris as color-blind, and some African American musicians willfully but not blindly made use of jazz to achieve success in Paris. Some musicians and jazzophiles subtly used jazz as a tool to critique racialized oppression prevalent in the United States and blur racial boundaries in France.
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