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Jazz Diasporas"Race, Music, and Migration in Post-World War II Paris"$
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Rashida K. Braggs

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520279346

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520279346.001.0001

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Kenny Clarke’s Journey between “Black” and “Universal” Music

Kenny Clarke’s Journey between “Black” and “Universal” Music

(p.157) 5. Kenny Clarke’s Journey between “Black” and “Universal” Music
Jazz Diasporas

Rashida K. Braggs

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on bebop cofounder Kenny Clarke, who resided in Paris from 1956 until his death in 1985. Clarke became the cornerstone of the Parisian jazz scene. He was the house drummer for the Blue Note club, the most represented drummer on the Vogue record label, and the go-to guy for such groundbreaking projects as L'ascenseur pour l'échafaud (Elevator to the gallows) soundtrack. As a highly regarded elder of jazz, he mentored many French drummers, and American musicians flew over to play with him. Through his mentoring, musical collaborations, rhetoric, and travels Clarke helped transform jazz from “black music” to a “universal” music accessible to, and playable by, those in France and beyond. Clarke represents an unresolved and shifting tension between black pride and authenticity and a desire for universal humanity irrespective of race, which potentially threatens racial erasure. The chapter deconstructs multiple performances of the term universal in Clarke's and jazz's journey to assimilation in Europe.

Keywords:   Kenny Clarke, African American jazz musicians, drummers, black pride, race, assimilation, universal

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