Examples of Bands in Europe that showed signs of the ability to play in the New Orleans Style

Eric Borchard, reeds, Germany, Aggravatin' Papa, 1924;

Tom Waltham, piano, UK, Charleston Dolly, 1925

Jack Hylton, piano, UK, Riverboat Shuffle, 1925

Theo Uden Masman, piano, The Netherlands, Avalon, 1929

Jazz in the 1920’s in Europe saw the introduction of jazz and the beginning of imitation while the first style in jazz still had to be fully developed. The mixing of the constituting elements, songs, rags and blues, was still on its way. Improvisation and swing were developing as well.

In the 1920 jazz meant different things to various people both in the USA and in Europe. Jazz was new to the cultural landscape of Europe and the reception ranged from enormous popularity to strong hostility.

The introduction of jazz took place at various levels: in art music, in dance music and in popular music in general. In art music the introduction left some traces and influences of the superficial characteristic of jazz such as tone color and energy.

In dance music and in popular songs, elements of jazz were used although the earliest form of improvisation, melodic variation, was almost absent. Rhythmically jazz provided a steady beat for dance music and popular songs but swing, the rhythmic flow, was nearly absent.

Jazz as a cultural phenomenon made a big impression in Europe in the 1920’s. Jazz as a form of music was scarcely known. Imitation began slowly and only took off after the New Orleans style was over.


Examples of Big Bands in Europe in the 1930’s and early 1940’s

1935: Jack Hylton and his Orchestra, UK: Anything goes


1938: Fud Candix and his Orchestra, BE: Sugar Foot Stomp


1941: Jean Omer et son Grand Orchestre Swing, BE: Blue Room


1941: Ernst van ‘t Hoff, NL/GE: In the mood


Jazz in Europe in the 1930’s is mainly the music of big bands. Examples from the USA were imitated and assimilated in distinctive sounds and ways of playing by big bands in Europe. In Europe in the 1930’s to midway through the 1940’s jazz became identical to popular music.

The European musicians tried to come to terms with swing and improvisation. Tight ensemble work and improvisation were easier to grasp than the essence of swing.

Although Swing was mainly popular music to dance to and to accompany popular songs, the music increasingly was being regarded in Europe as concert music as well.

Examples of Bebop musicians in Europe

1955 Jazz Behind the Dikes: various artists, NL

1961 Rune Gustafsson, gt, SW: Night In Tunisia

1964 Peter King, ts, UK: How Am I To Know

1965 Martial Solal, pi FR: On Green Dolphin Street

In Europe, in the second half of the 1940's and in the 1950's, Bebop was imitated and assimilated faster than previous jazz styles. The augmented intensity of the debate on jazz, the increasing speed of the dissemination of jazz records, still 78 rpm, and growing number of writings on jazz, contributes to its relative fast adoption.

The main goal of the players in Europe was still to be as good as the players from the USA. However, Bebop in Europe had its own twist.

Bebop was appealing to a new and younger generation of musicians with a high level of music education and solid understanding of music theory. The younger generation of musicians was able to come up with a personal, assimilated version of Bebop in Europe.

It was not without resistance that Bebop in Europe in the was seen as the avant-garde in jazz. Swing was seen as the 'main stream' in jazz and New Orleans style as 'old school' in jazz.