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Arthur Briggs: 'The Brit who brought jazz to Europe'


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A fascinating programme about trumpet player Arthur Briggs on R4 yesterday for those of you who can access BBC sounds. I hadn't heard of him before but he led an interesting life, well covered in this 30 minute programme. More info below:

'Arthur Briggs played with some of the biggest names in jazz, witnessed some extraordinary moments in history and survived a Nazi internment camp. Yet, apart from among the most diehard jazz fans, he's virtually unknown today. Born at the turn of the last century on the Caribbean island of Grenada, then part of the British Empire, Briggs learned to play trumpet in Harlem and is believed to be the only British subject to have participated in the creation of jazz. But for his entire life, Arthur said he was American. In archive recordings broadcast for the first time, Briggs tells of his adventures as a black man leading a band of musicians around the cities of Europe in the 1920s and 30s. Memories include the aftermath of race riots in Liverpool, the execution of Turkish opposition leaders in Ankara, and four years in a Nazi camp. Hugh tries to uncover why this pioneer of jazz is virtually absent from the history books. Presenter: Hugh Schofield'


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He was/is known to those who are into exploring and collecting pre-war European jazz. He recorded extensively in Germany in 1927/28 and later had several sessions in France. A scant few of his German recordings have been reissued on various LP and CD compilations of early German "Hot dance bands". Arthur Briggs also is mentioned and shown several times in Frank Driggs' monumental "Black Beauty White Heat" photo book.
And he is also present in the texts of dedicated jazz history books such as "Jazz in Deutschland" by Horst H. Lange, "Charles Delaunay et le jazz en France dans les années 30 et 40" by Anne Legrand, "La France du Jazz" by Denis-Constant Martin and Olivier Roueff as well as in "Making Jazz French" by Jeffrey H. Jackson (although relatively scantily in that latter book).

Edited by Big Beat Steve
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