Thursday, June 09, 2011

Hot Club de France - the first jazz organisation in the world - 1

The first organisation to protect and promote jazz music.
Georg Lankester

Hot Club de France – the first jazz organization in the world - part 1 Hot Club de France – the first jazz organization in the world - part 2 Charles Delaunay (1911-1988) Hugues Panassié (1912-1964)
(Nederlandse linken): Hot Club de France: De eerste Jazzorganisatie ter wereld - deel 1 - Hot Club de France: De eerste Jazzorganisatie ter wereld - deel 2 - Charles Delaunay (1911-1988)
Hugues Panassié (1912-1964)

Speaking about the Hot Club de France, most people think of the jazz style created by guitarist Django Reinhardt, violinist Stéphane Grappelli and their quintet. However, the Hot Club was world’s first jazz organization, established in Europe and it has certainly been of great influence. Hence below the story how it all began:
The Hot Club was established in Paris, back in December 1932. on initiative of two French students Elwyn Dirats and Jac Auxenfans. We can be grateful to these (early) European jazz fans, because their rapidly growing organization gave an impulse to young jazz musicians and at the right moment.

Hugues Panassié ( 1912-1974) ca. 1928 (source: Stéphane Grappelli - with and without Django)(Patrice Panasié Collection)
In Paris, already in the course of the twenties, some American musicians were playing. They supplied a renewal in the existing French music scene which mainly included entertainment (singers) and dance music (
Musette). American soldiers brought Ragtime- and New Orleans music and later Swing. Gradually their influence spread and many French players started to practice the new music.
Charles Delaunay (1911 - 1988)
The new organization made it their aim to protect and promote jazz by inviting important American musicians into France for concerts and recordings. Remarkable is the word protect used by the Hot Club leaders. This goal was set because cultural life and general public was somewhat opposed or even a bit hostile towards this modern music.
The first pioneers of the Hot Club (early 1933) were Pierre Nourry, Jacques Bureau, Hugues Pananssié and Pierre Gazères. And already on February 1st that very year a concert was organized of three piano players: Freddie Johnson, Garland Wilson and Spencer Williams; the latter was a singer as well.
Advertisement of one of the first "Quintet of the Hot Club de France" performances with Jungo (sic) Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelly (source: Django - The life and music of a gypsy legend)
New Management
In the course of 1933 Charles Delaunay joined the club as secretary-general and soon he became the key figure within the organization. This would remain so for fifteen years! The Hot Club de France extended its activities rapidly by organizing more concerts and by presenting the new quintet (with Django and Stéphane), now declared as its official house band.

Billy Mackel: honorary member (photo courtesy: Hans Bonefaas ) ( source:

The management also arranged tours through France for American and European jazzmen, provided radio broadcasts, gave lectures and even established regional subsidiaries. Delaunay and Panassié created the famous magazine “Jazz Hot” and closely worked together. Very productive years for the organization! Through their efforts numerous musicians from Europe and especially the USA became more known to the general public and also lots of recordings of the performances were made.
The Quintet of the Hot Club of France (f.l.t.r.: Stephane Grappelli - Eugene Vees - Emmanuel Soudieux - Django Reinhardt and Joseph Reinhardt) (Source: Ace of Clubs (ACL 1158) album)
A few years later a new record label called Swing was launched by the HCdF (= Hot Club de France) management, exclusively meant for (selected) jazz musicians, unique in the world of music. The Parisian Hot Club was first settled in the Rue d’Isli, then for a while in the Rue de Commerce, but starting from 1938 in bigger premises in the Rue Chaptal. It was in the the place where many historical sessions and rare recordings of key players took place.

George Lankester
When you hear the name of the Hot Club de France nine time out of ten, one will mention its house band, the Quintet of the Hot Club of France with Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli as the leading artists. But the Hot Club of France was actually one of the first jazz organisationns in the world directed by Hugues Panassié and Charley Delaunay. George Lankester, Dutch expert of the early French jazz history, loves to share an article, in two parts, about this Hot Club de France organisation - world's first organisation to protect and promote jazzmusic.
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Blogger Jo said...

Thanks so much to Georg Lankester for compiling and publishing crucial info on an important chapter of jazz in Europe.


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