The “French tinge”. Jazz and its Paris-New Orleans connection


In recent years, musicological research proved how relevant have been, besides African sources, the European roots of jazz. These can be traced also in the French musical heritage, ideology and culture, including the 1789 Revolution’s freedom principle and the liberal attitude of French governors concerning black slavery in the American colonies, starting from Louisiana. The article suggests the importance of a Paris-New Orleans connection. French and Parisian musical traits were basic ingredients of New Orleans jazz melting pot, whereas the Parisian and French circulation of some important creole musicians from New Orleans like Louis Moreau Gottschalk and Edmund Dedé, during the nineteenth century, helped the latter circulation and proper cultural perception of Afro-American music. Due to these facts, Paris, since then, became the second capital for jazz in the world.

Abstract in Slovak:

Muzikologický výskum v posledných rokoch dokázal, že okrem afrických zdrojov sú pre jazz relevantné aj európske korene. Možno ich sledovať aj vo francúzskom hudobnom dedičstve, ideológii a kultúre, vrátane princípu slobody v revolúcii v roku 1789 a liberálneho prístupu francúzskych guvernérov k čiernemu otroctvu v amerických kolóniách počnúc Louisianou. Príspevok naznačuje význam spojenia Paríža s New Orleans. Francúzske a parížske hudobné črty boli základnými zložkami jazzového taviaceho kotla v New Orleans. Migrácia niektorých významných kreolských hudobníkov z New Orleans, akými boli Louis Moreau Gottschalk a Edmund Dedé v devätnástom storočí v Paríži a vo Francúzsku, pomohla poslednej výmene hudobníkov a správnemu kultúrnemu vnímaniu afroamerickej hudby. Vďaka týmto skutočnostiam sa Paríž stal druhým hlavným mestom jazzu na svete.

Maurice Ravel, in an interview given to an American music magazine around 1930, said: ”Jazz is not a product of the twentieth century, its origins can be traced before. Some old Scotch melodies are very similar to modern blues. French and Italian melodies of 1840 (for example the ballet Giselle, by Adam) also contain some features of nowadays jazz. And Gottschalk’s music, the creole composer, might be defined a direct antecedent of jazz” (Andre Coeuroy, Et si le jazzetait francais?, in Histoire generale du jazz. Strette, Hot, Swing, Editions Denoel, Paris 1942, pp. 26-27.)


French people, and thus the French society, are notoriously keen to “incorporate” things and names. Foreign concepts and family names often become “frenchised”, as it happened-just to quote few musical examples-to the classical composer Giovan Battista Lulli (1632-1687) and to the famous jazz violin player Stéphane Grappelli (1908-1997), both Italians, whose family names were transformed in Lully and Grappelly. Another example of a musical “incorporation” was Offenbach (1819-1880), the “founder” of contemporary operetta, and also, somehow, of the later musical comedy: born Jacob in Koln, Germany, he was renamed Jacques and happily adopted by the French society and institutions. The Afro-American dancer and singer Josephine Baker (1906-1975) would also be adopted, in the mid-Twenties Jazz-Age, by Paris, finally becoming a national star and a French citizen; in some way, the Parisian adoption of Josephine Baker would also depend on the liberal French curiosity for her dance movements and sexual attitudes, a sort of unconscious recognition of a new female social freedom and bodily behaviour that France, years before, had already introduced in Parisian clubs and shows, and then exported to America(1). 

Even jazz music has somehow been “incorporated” into French culture and society. Or even vice-versa: as we know, when discussing the ethymology of “jazz”, the French word “jaser” is, according to international musicology, one of the most credited. These facts may explain why jazz in France, and especially in Paris, became so important in the twentieth century: through the very birth of jazz criticism and the related thoughts and ideas of intellectuals and artists, this phenomenon also influenced the international cultural debate, and even the birth of the American jazz criticism(2). Paris, in fact, in the twentieth century, became the second jazz capital in the world, after New York but before the other American jazz cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Kansas City and Los Angeles (and even New Orleans, which, although being the birthplace of Afro-American music, since the thirties progressively lost its role, being too far aside from technological news and unable to cope with modern and contemporary jazz styles). This sort of Parisian-French leadership in the interwar European process of discovery and cultural evaluation of jazz would not probably occur if France had not been the only liberal State, based on parliamentary democracy, in the Continent. England and Sweden were monarchies, Germany, Italy and Spain became totalitarian nazi-fascist countries, and the other nations were less relevant in terms of their reaction and contribution to the new Afro-American music, which Paris would name, around 1925, the “tumulte noir”.

But, prior to this, the process of incorporation of jazz into French culture would have certainly been less important if France had not had a colonial background in Africa(3), and, of course, in Northern America. French America, besides some Caribbean islands, was mainly Louisiana, which by the way (until Napoleon sold it for sixty million francs to the American Union in 1803, to finance his war against Great Britain) was  at the time much larger than contemporary Louisiana, including a huge, vertical portion of territory-vertically crossed by river Mississippi- spanning from Canada to New Orleans.  

New Orleans was founded by French people. The first known residents of the New Orleans area were the Native Americans of the Woodland and Mississippian cultures. The expedition of René Robert De La Salle (1682) passed through the area, but there were few permanent white settlers before 1718, when the governor of French Louisiana, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, founded the city of Nouvelle-Orléans close to the Mississippi’s mouth; in 1722 Le Moyne, who had come from Canada and spent years trading fur, transferred Louisiana’s capital from Biloxi. The same year a hurricane destroyed most of the new city, which was rebuilt in the grid pattern of today’s French Quarter.

In 1723, France ceded Louisiana to Spain. For the remainder of the eighteenth century, Louisiana was a Spanish colony, and Nueva Orleans became an important commercial and cultural partner with Cuba, Mexico, and beyond. It was during the Spanish colonial era that New Orleans was transformed from a village-like environment of wooden houses into a city of brick buildings with urban infrastructure. New architectural codes were introduced after two dramatic fires, resulting in splendid Spanish Colonial-style buildings such as the Cabildo, fronting today’s Jackson Square. Other Spanish contributions include wrought-iron balconies, courtyards, cemeteries and the city’s earliest expansion, Santa Maria, today’s Central Business District. The Spanish also liberalized policies governing slavery, which enabled the growth of a caste of free people of color.

In 1800, the Spanish retroceded Louisiana back to France, and three years later the Americans signed, with Bonaparte, the Louisiana Purchase. The arrival of the Americans in New Orleans implied, among other things, a different point of view concerning slavery. The French King Louis XIV had promoted as early as 1685 a Code Noir which would define the conditions of slavery in the whole French colonial empire; in Louisiana slavery became less violent and restrictive than elsewhere, and free people of colour counted in thousands. The 1724 Louisiana version of the Code Noir stated as follows:

We declare that the act of enfranchisement of slaves, passed according to the forms above described, shall be equivalent to an act of naturalization, when said slaves are not born in our colony of Louisiana, and they shall enjoy all rights and privileges inherent to our subjects born in our kingdom or in any land or country under our dominion”.

But also Spain, during its political control of Louisiana, was rather liberal in terms of slavery and segregation of African-Americans. As Ned Sublette points out: ”During the years when the Spanish governor of Louisiana reported to the Spanish captain general of Cuba, the rules in New Orleans regarding slaves were much like those in Havana. There was a large population of free people of color. Slaves were treaed badly, but enslaved people had some liberties-most important, they had the right to purchase their freedom. That was more than New Orleanians had before, and more than enslaved people in the United States would have”.

France, as early as 1719, had imported thousands of slaves from Benin, Ivory Coast and elsewhere. Sublette: “The French kept careful records, so there is high-quality information about how many Africans were brought to the colony. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall makes the numbers available in Africans in Colonial Louisiana: during the period France governed Louisiana, a total of 5.951 Africans arrived on twenty-three slave ships (…). The first two slave ships to arrive in Louisiana were from Oiuidah, on the so-called Slave Coast.; by then under the control of the Dahomeyan empire, in what is now Benin (…) But the bulk of the captives brought to Louisiana-3.909, or about two-thirds of the total, on sixteen out of the twenty-three French slave ships, including the final ship of 1743-embarked from Senegal”. (4)

Black slavery was abolished in all French colonies in 1794. But the Americans were keen on a much more radical form of slavery, and would encourage New Orleans becoming a slave city; this, by the way, would happen only in part. A city law promoted in 1890, n.111, forced Creoles and Negroes (who were living Uptown) to mix together, as a new society separated from the white American one. By the way, according to a researcher (5), this “Jim Crow” law not only did not limit the creoles’ professional activities and trades, but did not succeed, as previously believed, in promoting jazz as a confluence of black and creole traditions. Jazz, a unique new blend of European, African and American sources, rather grew up from the common interest of creole and black people for new musical exchanges and experiments: an exciting blend of blues and European marches and melodies, including French ones, of spiritual songs and ragtime. By the way, the so-called post-Civil War Jim Crow laws introduced severe forms of segregation in the South: Homer Plessy, a Louisiana creole (of white face and manners, with only one black grand grandfather) lost his legal actions three times in local and National Courts, the first of which against Judge John Howard Ferguson, the last against the Supreme Court, in Washington.  In any case, in New Orleans, people of different races and cultures used to mix much more easily than in the other American cities; and the capital of Louisiana looked like a Mediterranean city, rather than a strictly „American one”.

In 1840, New Orleans became the third-largest city in the nation, the biggest in the South, and the fourth-busiest harbour in the world. It had a population of more than one hundred thousand people, of whom nearly sixty percent were white, more than twenty percent were enslaved African Americans; and almost twenty percent were free people of color. Its two primary ethnicities, French-speaking Catholic creoles and English-speaking Protestant Anglo-Americans, competed for power and lived in separate city areas, the creoles in the French Quarter and the lower surroundings, the Anglo-Americans (and many black people of African descent) in what is now the Central Business District, Lower Garden District, and Garden District. Close to the city were the sugar, cotton, tobacco and indigo plantations where black slaves and, to some extent, also some European immigrates would work. Black slaves would also be employed, in the City and its surroundings, to help building levees, canals and streets, or to work as blacksmiths and barrell makers. In musical terms, blues and Afro-American folk songs would come from the plantation areas and be spread and transformed around the city.

The linguistic, social, religious and musical features of early twentieth century New Orleans would be shaped by the interweaving of French, Spanish and American cultural roots, mixed with the different cultural heritages brought about-during the previous hundred years-by African and caribbean slaves. And by further, meaningful contributions of European immigrants, including Italians, Russians, Germans, Scottish, Irish-and the like. One of the most relevant communities of New Orleans immigrants was the Italian one, arriving from Sicily around 1880; it would express a good number of the first important jazz musicians of New Orleans (the most famous would become cornet player Dominique “Nick” LaRocca, leader of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, the first group to make a record, in 1917; another would be the later trumpet player Louis Prima). Some Italian “classical” musicians, including George Paoletti and Luigi Gabici. Paoletti and Gabici were at that time Conservatory teachers in the Milan Conservatory of music. When the Governor of Louisiana decided to start an official local music school, he wrote to the Director of the Paris Conservatory. Since the French Conservatory lacked some instrumental classes, the Director wrote to his colleague in Milan: Gabici and Paoletti therefore sailed to New Orleans, via Cuba, becoming very active in the Crescent City, and having as music students also creole and black musicians) emigrated to the Crescent City fifty years before the Sicilians, at the half of the nineteenthirties; they would become appreciated music teachers, members of the local theater orchestras and directors of different groups. Gabici, a violin player and sheet music publisher, was the best known of a group of other Italian musicians (Giovanni Luciani, Francesco Sapignoli, Elisa Rossi) expressely invited by James Caldwell to work in New Orleans at the St.Charles Theater. The New Orleans census of 1850, out of a population of 117.460 inhabitants, listed 117 residents which declared to be musicians, plus twelve “music teachers”. Most of them (except three from Louisiana and one from New York) were European immigrants, of which 70 coming from Germany and 16 from France. Of course, in the Crescent City, the musicians were many more, but they weren’t included in the census, since they had another, main working activity.

Around the half of the nineteenth century, New Orleans was not only the second harbour of the United States, but one of the most important and at the same time atypical centers of the New World; some scholars defined the Crescent City a mediterranean rather than American city. In musical terms, at that time its many different activities were unparalled. The concert life, besides orchestras, dances, parties and many other social opportunities for playing and listening, open both to professional and amateur musicians, was the first in the whole nation concerning opera. As Henry Kmen pointes out: ”Operas was New Orleans’s cultural glory throughout the nineteenth century. The city had its self-supporting, resident company which, for much of the century, offered the best opera to be found in America. Its superiority was especially marked before the Civil War, when the presentation of opera in other American cities was sporadic and transient. At its prewar height, opera in New Orleans represented a cultural flowering in the old South that differed only in kind, not in degree, from the vaunted flowering in New England. Its presence in New Orleans was decisive in encouraging and setting the tone of numerous other music activities. Without it the city would not have been able to boast as it did in 1837 that “the little musical enthusiasm prevailing in the United States is nearly entirely encountered in New Orleans” (6). Various theaters were built (and sometimes rebuilt, like elsewhere, being regular victims of fire), beginning with the Théatre d’Orléans (1815), between Royal and Bourbon Street, followed by the Camp Street Theater (1824). The Théatre d’Orléans was active also promoting the circulation of operas and companies in other American cities, including New York, whereas different musicians and companies arrived regularly in the capital of Louisiana through a circuit connecting Europe with Cuba and New York.

In 1835 James Caldwell opened the St.Charles Theater, with a seating capacity of 4,100; during the eighteenforties the Theatre d’Orleans entered its gilded age, and some years later two more important New Orleans opera theaters were built, the German National Theater and the French Opera House (built in 1859, it was the site of around 15 American Premieres of European Operas, every year). The name of the second theater bears in its name the mainly French-oriented contents of New Orleans’ operatic seasons. Daniel Auber, Giacomo Meyerbeer, André Grétry, Adolph Charles Adam, Fromental Halévy, Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny were some of the French composers whose works would be presented, sometimes for the first time. The same thing happened with some Italian operas of Giacchino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti, Vincenzo Bellini and Giuseppe Verdi, including Ernani, La Traviata, Rigoletto (and with Le Trouvère, the United States première of the revised French version). Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable was one of the favourite operas in New Orleans, with over thirty performances in the same season; another Meyerbeer’s piece that became popular in the Louisiana capital was L’africaine.

New Orleanians’ passion for opera, by the way, brought leading European talents to the banks of Mississippi. Eugène Prosper-Prèvost (1809-1872) had been a colleague of Berlioz at the Conservatory of Paris before settling in the Crescent City as the director of the Theatre d’Orleans. The Metropolitan Opera was founded in 1883, and the Classical Music Society in 1855. During the antebellum era, one was more likely to hear the American premiere of a European Opera in New Orleans rather than in New York.

French in its political foundation, catholic religion, first language, carnival (the renamed Mardi Gras), urban center and street names (the so-called Vieux Carré and, just to name some, streets like Iberville, Bienville, Lasalle, Chartres, Toulouse, Orleans), New Orleans was typically French also in its quoted creole culture, and its specific musical roots. Creole culture is somehow well-known. But the French musical roots of New Orleans jazz (part of the reasons why jazz became popular in Paris and France), and their more general cultural background, are much less known.

In Louisiana, the term „creole“ (the use of which first occurs during the Renaissance period of the Portuguese empire) was used, in the beginning, to describe people born in Louisiana, who used it to distinguish themselves from recent immigrants. It was not meant in racial or ethnic terms; it was simply synonymous with „born in the New World,“ meant to separate native-born people of any ethnic background—white, black or any mixture thereof—from European immigrants and slaves imported from Africa. Later, the term was racialized and people occasionally made distinctions among French creoles, Spanish creoles (of European ancestry), creoles of color (of mixed racial ancestry), and black creoles (of primarily African descendant); these categories, however, are later inventions.

Contemporary usage has again broadened the meaning of Louisiana creoles to describe a cultural group of people of all races who share a colonial Louisianian background. Louisianians who identify themselves as “creole” are most commonly from French and Spanish communities. Some of their ancestors arrived to Louisiana directly from France, Spain or Germany, while others came via the French and Spanish colonies in the Carribbean and Canada. The children of slaves brought primarily from Western Africa were also considered Creoles, as were children born of unions between Native Americans and non-Natives. Creole culture in Louisiana thus consists of a unique blend of European, Native American and African cultures (7). In social terms, creoles were, generally speaking, quite well off, being employed, among other works, in trades and liberal professions.

A celebrated New Orleans “white creole” musician was pianist and composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1819-1859). A tradesman and enterpreneur, his father Edward Gottschalk, a man of German jewish ascent, moved from London to New Orleans, where he would soon be involved in the commerce of slaves and in real estate; his mother was an aristocratic French woman born in Saint-Domingue (Haiti), Aimée Bruslé, who like almost ten thousand other people living in this French colony moved to New Orleans as a consequence of the local revolt led by former slave Toussaint L’Overture. Louis Moreau was an early prodigy; his uncommon skill for music was discovered and encouraged by his parents: after five years of study in a private English school, Harby’s Academy, he started learning piano with Francois Joseph Narcisse Letellier (1793-1856), a composer and tenor at the Theatre d’Orleans who was born and had his family in Paris, as well as violin from another French man, called Elie. At the age of seven Louis Moreau was already able to play the organ at the local St. Louis Cathedral. His talent being so exceptional, Edward Gottschalk, together with Narcisse Letellier, decided to sent him to study in Paris. In order to raise money for his future French committment, Gottschalk made his informal debut at the new St. Charles Hotel, in 1840. Attendance was excellent, and, at only eleven, his talent widely praised.

Louis Moreau had the good chance to grow up in a city that, at the time, was probably the richest, in musical terms, of the whole country. As Frederick Starr points out: ”It is hard today to grasp the sheer vitality of musical life in the Crescent City during the period of Gottschalk’s boyhood. With a population of only sixty thousand, New Orleans supported several full-time theaters and music halls, each staffed with resident orchestras and performances, and a half dozen halls, which called nightly on the services of yet more musicians. Several music stores sold instruments and published large numbers of compositions by local composers. A triangular music circuit embracing New Orleans, Havana and New York brought artists from every part of Europe. Fiddlers and banjo-pickers drawn from the bustling American West appeared on street corners, in the city’s saloons, and, slightly later, in minstrel theaters; the Catholic Curch supported choirs and organists; and the garrison bands of local U.S.Army units produced martial music to fill any moments of silence that may accidentally have opened (…) This remarkable effervescence presented three striking and distinctive features: first, the city was madly devoted to opera, and especially to the grand and ebulliently lyrical operas of contemporary France and Italy; second, popular, folk and dance music poured forth from every segment of the population, whether frontiersmen from the West, native-born Louisiana creoles, both white and black, or new immigrants; and, third, both the sophisticated operatic performances and the folksier music of the dance-halls were accessible to the entire population, rich and poor, white and black”(8).

In Paris, Louis Moreau Gottschalk lived in 64 Rue de Clichy, where the Dussert family, which would become a second home for him, had a boarding school. The Dusserts introduced Louis Moreau, among others, to the reknown pianist and composer Sigismund Thalberg, who appreciated his talent and suggested him to study composition. This happened after Louis Moreau, following his parents’ desire, had tried to enroll to the famed Paris Conservatoire, but was rejected by the head of the piano school, Pierre Zimmermann; the Conservatory rules were very restrictive concerning foreigners, and exceptions, including another Lousianian, Victor-Eugène Macarty, and, later on, German cellist Jacques Offenbach were very few (but foreigners, in general, were accepted as listeners). Charles Hallé (who at home had New Orleans servants, former African slaves, and a New Orleansian wife, Désirée Smith de Rilieu, a friend of Louis Moreau’s great-uncle, Gaston Bruslé) was thus identified as a good alternative for the teenager. But since Hallé was very busy Louis Moreau started studying piano with Camille Stamaty, who had Camille Saint-Saens among his pupils. Finally, Gottschalk choose Pierre Maleden-a musician who had a peculiar interest in harmonic colorations and in chromaticism- to study composition. Besides his rich musical training, and a regular attendance to the rich parisian musical life, Louis Moreau Gottschalk was a cultivated man. He was influenced by French literature, poetry and painting, and studied Italian, a language that would become useful to have contacts with operatic singers and to write some materials for his future librettos. During his Parisian years, the piano was literally flourishing. In the 1840s the French capital could count sixty thousand pianos and nearly one hundred thousand people able to play this instrument. Among all pianists living and working in Paris, three were the most famous and celebrated, Franz Liszt, Sigismund Thalberg and Frederic Chopin, all of which he met and had relations with. Gottschalk disliked Liszt, but on the contrary can be said to have been influenced by Chopin, whose compositions he often played both in Paris and in his later international career, and whose instrumental style, in terms of bel canto phrasings and legato, often imitated. Chopin, on his side, recognised at once Gottschalk’s uncommon talent, and is said to have commented, talking about his skills, “I predict that you will become the king of pianists”. Louis Moreau made his debut as a professional pianist at the reknown Salle Pleyel, Paris, on 17 april 1849, in a recital featuring some of his “creole” compositions.

Critics appreciated his virtuosity and compared his approach to the instrument to that of Chopin; as a composer, he was seen as the first American musical spokesman. If on one side Gottschalk absorbed the typical Romantic attitude to improvise, during concerts, on well-known compositions, on the other he was the first to bring to Paris and its wide and important musical audience and environment the unique flavour of his childhood melodic and rhythmic Caribbean memories, which he incorporated in such compositions as La Bamboula. Danse des nègres, La Savane, Le bananier, all written during his Parisian tenure, and printed by local publishers. “Gottschalk would create a New World complement to European nationalism, using the dances he heard in his childhood in the same way as Chopin had used Polish mazurkas, or Listz Hungarian czardas. However, Gottschalk produced something quite different, partly because the basic material was different, partly because of the way he treated it. Chopin’s makurkas are poetic commentaries, by a spiritually isolated artist, on folk material, and are in that sense romantically introverted. Gottschalk’s dances are, in their exhibitionism, extroverted, recreating in pianistic terms the communal vivacity of their stereotypes. They are “people’s music” in that there is a minimum of intrusion of personal sentiment; and Gottschalk’s genius lay in seeing how this “child-like” Negro vitality could reflect one aspect of white America”(9). It would be interesting to know, besides listening to their melodies when he was a child, how Gottschalk came in contact, in more general terms, with such ethnic songs, which have been identified by musicologists (note the first and last title, in creole dialect) in Quand patate la cuite na va mangé li! (Bamboula), En avan’ Granadie (Le Bananier, The Banana Tree, which can also be appreciated for his afro-american ostinato, in the left hand part) e Po’ piti Lolotte (La Savane, The Tropical Plain). Another well-known composition by Gottschalk, Ojos Criollos, includes some off-beat passages which foresee some typical rhytmic jazz features of the 1920s.By the way, incorporations and quotations were a regular feature of his style as a piano composer: one of the most famous is Stephen Foster’s quotation of Camptown Races (in The Banjo, 1855); a peculiarity of his style was to include themes or parts of compositions of the musicians (or the popular genres) of the different countries he toured as a performer, from France (Polka de Salon, Mazurka) to Cuba (Ojos Criollos, Souvenir de la Havane), from Spain (La jota aragonesa, Souvenir de Andalusie),  to Puerto Rico (Souvenir de Puerto Rico). Mixing tango and habanera rhythms with Afro-American syncopations, operetta-like melodies and French ethnic melodies, Gottschalk somehow anticipated another important New Orleans creole pianist and composer, Jelly Roll Morton, the “originator of jazz”, as he was used to define himself.   

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (who, talking about American music, also exerted a sort of influence on the later piano-ragtime style) was an original composer and interpreter but also a brilliant improviser, as were most of his well-known Parisian colleagues and masters of the Romantic period. He used to develop variations on famous melodies, on compositions of his own, or, more frequentely, on famous songs and melodies written by his contemporaries. Concerning this matter, one may find a similarity with jazz: but in this case jazz is closer, rather than to pre-jazz American music, to the typically European tradition of musical improvisations on instruments like the piano (or the trumpet, or the violin). Baroque and Romantic era European compositions often implied (like the case of the baroque cadenza) improvised parts, and it is likely that this kind of tradition, mainly German and French, continued in the United States, and specifically in French Louisiana, where white land owners would often play in their houses, and their slaves would listen and later imitate these improvisations on their instruments (of course, improvisation in New Orleans and surroundings also had other sources in different musical styles and genres, both vocal and instrumental).

Gottschalk was not the only Louisiana creole able to study in Paris with French musicians. Others, by the way, were not white people, a fact that reinforces the open attitude of the French society towards races. Edmond Dédé (1827-1903), for example, was the son of a free Afro-Caribbean band master from Saint-Domingue; his parents emigrated to the Crescent City in 1809. A cigarmaker (like many others in New Orleans), but of course mainly an instrumentalist and composer, Dédé first took up clarinet, and soon developed into a violin prodigy, studying with Ludovico Gabici and with Constatin Debergue, conductor of the local Philharmonic Society, founded by free creoles of color sometime in the late antebellumperiod (this was the first non-theatrical orchestra in the city, and also included some whites). Dédé then moved to Paris and, through acquaintances, was admitted to the Conservatory, where he studied with Jean-Francois Fromental Helévy and Jean Delphin Alard. He would marry a French woman, Sylvia Leflat, and later find a permenent position in Bordeaux as a conductor of the municipal orchestra, at the Theatre D’Alcazar, but also at the Folies Bordelaises, a fact that shows the interation, typical of the European and American post-1860 period, between central highbrow institutions and popular clubs, halls and genres. He returned only once to New Orleans, in 1893, when he appeared in a program with Basile Barès and W. J. Nickerson, later “professor” to Jelly Roll Morton. In 1894 he went back to France, where he would become a member of the French Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers, and die a decade later, in 1903. Dédé left more than two hundred and fifty compostions:songs with French texts (Mon pauvre coeur, Le sentiment de l’arabe, Quasimodo!), ballets, operettas, operas-comiques, and overtures, including Le palmier(1865), almost all of which printed by Bordeaux publishers (10).

A New Orleans creole musician who had relevant relations with Paris was Lucien Lambert, who grew up playing piano in the pit of the Théatre D’Orleans. Lucien was first taught by his father, and then moved to the French capital, were he would study with Theodore Dubois and Jules Massenet. His work Promethée enchainée won the Concours Rossini in 1885. Most of his compositions, including a ballet, symphonic poems, a piano concero, a work for organ and orchestra and a Requiem, were published in Paris by Noel. Another Parisian publisher, Choudens, printed in 1900 his oeuvre-lyrique in one act La Marseillaise, book by Georges Boyer; the work was premiered at the Opera-Comique, in Paris, the fourteenth of July of that year. Lambert knew Louis Moreau Gottschalk as a boy and enjoyed a friendly rivalry with him. Later he identified himself as a “protegè of Louis Moreau Gottschalk.”

Another musician who could benefit of the liberal though changing social and racial rules of New Orleans was pianist Basile Jean Barès (1845-1902). He was, in fact, the slave of creole Adolph Perier, who owned the Perier Piano and Music Emporium, located in Royal Street. He went to Paris several times on business for the Perier firm, and had the opportunity to perform as a pianist  at the Paris World Exposition, in 1867.  His best-known composition is the Grande Polka des chasseurs a pied de la Louisiane.

In the same years of Louis Gottschalk Moreau’s Parisian residence (which lasted from 1840 to 1853), the French capital was, in parallel, exposed to another kind of american music, the so- called blackface minstrelsy, or minstrel show.  The minstrel show, a caricatural representation of Afro-American slaves during the plantation era, was at first animated by white actors-singers performing with black-painted faces; later, Afro-American performers could also take part to this kind of peculiar and popular entertainment.  Normally, the minstrel show would include a quartet singing and playing banjo, violin, tambourine and bones; in theatrical terms it  would be developed in a serie of comic sketches and dance numbers, in three separate acts, which would present the main characters (including the dandy, the slave, the mammy and the black soldier). Invented in New York by Thomas Dartmouth Rice as early as 1832, it was later proposed by itinerant groups like the Virginia Minstrels, the Ethiopian Serenaders and the Christy Minstrels; some of these groups would perform in Europe, especially in England. The Virginia Minstrels appeared in the Parisian Theatre du Palais Royal in 1844, while the Christy’s Minstrels would be invited to perform at the Exposition Universelle de Paris, in 1867. France, as well as England, was thus twice exposed to the banjo, an instrument which arose in terms of popularity around 1850: during the quoted live performances of the minstrel show companies and thanks to Gottschalk’s composition entitled The banjo (William Hall Publishing Company, 1855).

The circulation of African-American and (to a much lesser extent) African music in Europe and France started a sort of fashion for compositions with exotic dedications that included, for example, the quoted Jacob (Giacomo) Meyerbeer’s opera L’africaine (1865). On his side, Charles Gounod composed a Ballet music from Faust (including a Dance of theNubian slaves) that would be staged first at Paris’s Théâtre-Lyrique in 1859, and, later, in the 1869 Paris Opera. Attendance was excellent in both cases, and Hector Berlioz appreciated the composition. Meyerbeer, with Daniel-Francois-Esprit Auber, was by far the most popular opera composer in New Orleans: his Robert le diable was performed several times, while Auber’s La muette de Portici was also very much appreciated by the racially mixed audiences of New Orleans’ theaters (11). As already noted, though in separate rows and in limited numbers, even free blacks and quadroons could attend operas and classical concerts in New Orleans Theaters. And so did, of course, without limitations, the Creole community, including some of the most important jazz musicians of the first generation. “When he wasn’t noodling on instruments, Ferd-who spoke only French in the first few years of his life-regularly attended the French Opera with his family. Here, he absorbed the European musical tradition of Romantic operas such as Gounod’s Faust and Verdi’s Il Trovatore, and harmonic breakthroughs in radical works such as Debussy’s Pelleas and Melisande. He relished the coloritura lines that sopranos sang in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, their ornate, often improvised, melodic embellishments sometimes drawing hystherical ovations from the crowd”(12).

The connection between Paris and New Orleans, and in general between Louisiana and Europe, during the nineteenth century was also established throughout music publishing activities and music shops wich sold European firms of pianos and other instruments. Piano player and music teacher Paul Emile Johns (1798-1860), born in Krakow, Poland, immigrated to New Orleans in 1820. Johns accompanied traveling virtuosi of the voice or instruments at concerts in New Orleans, performing at the Theatre d’Orleans, where he sometimes also played piano with the local orchestra. But he was also a composer, being credited of a one-act Comic Opera entitled The Military Stay, or the Double Trick (1824) and of different piano pieces. He opened a shop in 1830 and began to sell music in New Orleans; he then became the main representative for the French firm Pleyel and Sons (Ignaz Pleyel and his son, Camille Pleyel). In addition to publishing music, he sold and distributed music of other publishers, such as John Blockley. During one of his frequent travels to Paris, Johns was introduced to Frederic Chopin by Camille Pleyel: the two men, both Polish, became friends, and Chopin dedicated to John his Mazurkas op.7 (1832). Paul Emile Johns and Ignaz Pleyel co-published in 1834 the Album Louisianais: Homage aux Dames de la Nouvelle Orleans, including six songs , a waltz and a polonaise.

Other New Orleans publishers included Williams T. Mayo (his shop was in Camp Street), who started relations with american publishers in other cities (Frederick D. Benteen and George Willig in Baltimore, Lee & Walker in Philadelphia, Pond & New York) and some German immigrants, like former Bavarian Philip P. Werlein (the first publisher of Dan Emmett’s famous song called Dixie, in 1860) and, especially, Louis Grunewald, who immigrated in New Orleans in 1852. An organ player, often active in neworleansian Catholic churches, he became the most important of all publishers, opening an office and a first shop in Magazine Street, in 1858, that sold musical instruments (pianos, but also fife and drums).

Besides this, he started an intruments factory (on 861 Conti), and, from 1874, also managed the Grunewald Hall, a major music hall, including offices and other facilities, that was destroyed by fire in 1893. On the ground floor were „the biggest piano warerooms in the world“. The second floor contained two concert halls: the larger of these could seat over one thousand people, the smaller, three hundred. Separating these two halls was a third, which served as a dining area and had a capacity of four hundred.

In the same place, Grunewald, who also owned a motor company, decided to build the Grunewald Hotel, later renamed Roosevelt Hotel; he sold his company, which had published large quantities of music since 1870, to Schirmer, in 1920.

The importance and number of creole musicians in New Orleans must be carefully considered to be able to trace a part of the French roots in the development of jazz in New Orleans, and, viceversa, in order to understand the prompt and open acceptance of jazz within the parisian and French society. The most famous creole musicians belonging to the pre-jazz generation and to the first jazz generation are, as we know, clarinet and saxophone virtuosi Sidney Bechet (1897), Barney Bigard (1906) and Alphonse Picou (1878), violin virtuoso and composer Armand Piron (1888), drummer and violin player John Robichaux (1886), bass player and guitarist Alcide Pavageau(1888-1969), trombone players Wilbur de Paris (1900) and Kid Ory (1890) and, of course, the renamed “inventor of jazz”, pianist, “raconteur” and composer Ferdinand Ed La Menthe, aka Jelly Roll Morton (1890). An important link of these musicians with the French musical heritage concerns their use of instruments like the clarinet, the violin and the trombone, all of which played a major role in the French music history; but equally relevant-in this perspective-is the fact that these first jazz players belonged to bands and instrumental groups that were a sort of American development of French and European traditions. Jazz histories often deal with the relevance and number of the brass bands and marching bands in New Orleans, like the Onward or the Excelsior, but nobody has so far traced the link of these instrumental bands with their French similar ancestors. See for example Samuel Charters: “The usual instrumentation of the Onward and the Excelsior(bands) was three cornets, one higher Eb instrument, alto horn-called the peck horn  since its role in the arrangements was to play a continual harmony line in a series of  small, pecking not but none of them has so far traced the link of these instrumental bands with their French similar ancestors“(13). Conversely, part of the ancestry of some of the New Orleans most relevant jazz musicians has been identified. In his accurate biography of the famous clarinet and soprano saxophone virtuoso, British trumpet player and music critic John Chilton notes that “the first of Sidney Bechet’s ancestors to enter New Orleans was Francoise Cocote, a negro woman born around 1760 in the State of Illinois (…). She remained unmarried, but had three children: two daughters, Eulalie, born c1800, Marie Jeanne, born c1805, and a son, Jean Bicher, born c1802 (…) Somewhere in the course of time Jean Becher’s name changed slightly, first to Beschet, then to Bechet (…) The Bechet  family, living in down-town New Orleans, had developed  a bourgeois life style during their decades of relative prosperity. In 1890 some of the family conversation was still carried on in French, or at least the local patois. Their direct dealings with black people who lived in the up-town section of the city were few and far between, and, even though no formal segregation existed before creoles and negroes, most of the Bechet family’s neighbours were of French extraction”(14). In any case, the roots of the Bechet name can be traced in France, mainly in Normandy (but also, in the South, in Savoie), and a recent census lists over 90.000 French people named Bechet (15).

Jelly Roll Morton’s ancestry was, equally, that of a creole of French origins. The celebrated New Orleans piano player and composer, and leader of one of the most relevant jazz groups of the Twenties, the Red Hot Peppers, told his family story in form of an extended interview to the well-known ethnomusicologist and record producer Alan Lomax; the synthesis of it is Lomax’s book Mister Jelly Roll. According to his memories, Morton’s ancestors had arrived in the Crescent City already in the eighteenth century: ”As I can understand, my folks were in the city of New Orleans long before the Louisiana Purchase, and all my folks came directly from the shores of France, that is across the world in the other world, and they landed in the new world years ago. I remember so far back as my great-grandmother and great-grandfather. My great-grandfather’s name (Author’s Note:see the similarity with Bechet) was Emile Pechet-he was considered one of the largest jewelers in the South. My great-grandmother was Mimi Pechet-she traveled quite extensively and died when I was grown, at around one hundred years old. As soon as I can remember those folks, they was never able to speak a world in American or English. My grandmother, her name was Laura. She married a French settler in New Orleans by the name of Henri Monette- a wholesaler of fine liquors and cordials-that was my grandfather. And neither of them spoke American or English.My grandmother bore sons named Henri, Gus, Neville and Nelusco-all French names; and she bore the daughters Louise, Viola and Margaret-that was the three daughters(…) Of course, I guess you wonder how the name Morton came in, by it being an English name. Well, I’ll tell you. I changed it for business reasons when I started travelling.I didn’t want to be called Frenchy “(…) (16).

Not only New Orleans creole musicians, in general, were able to read and write music; they could also attend the French Opera House, where they could have regular seats or seasonal subscriptions, as it happened with Sidney Bechet and Jelly Roll Morton(17). In methodological terms, it is necessary, dealing with early jazz in New Orleans, to consider the fact that jazz was born as a synthesis of previous and parallel musical genres, of written and oral sources, of european, african and caribbean traditions. This is a basic issue, but is often incredibly forgotten by jazz historians (and, also, in general, by music historians and musicologists, who frequently deal only with a single music genre, without considering the others).

New Orleans creole musicians, as a consequence of the racist attitudes of the Anglo-American socio-political views, were partly inhibited to perform everywhere, but were still able to do so in many places, also thanks to their capability to react against the new American governmental rules. As Eye Candy points out: ”Creoles and free people of color fought hard to maintain their rights against the Americans legislative onslaught, and responded by forming institutions that helped maintain their cultural integrity. Starting in the 1820s, creoles founded social clubs and benevolent societies. Two of these, Société d’Economie and La Loge Perseverance would become New Orleans landmarks, known today as Economy Hall and Preservation Hall. Both halls are now world famous for their musical history, but less well-known for the roles they played in the civil rights movement.Creoles also formed musical and symphonic societies. The Theatre de la Renaissance, formed in 1840, was an orchestra exclusively for creoles ofcolor. The Société Philharmonique was active in the 1830s and may have been conducted by ConstantinDebergue, a musician from the band of the Battalion of Free Men of Color, which was formed during the Battle of New Orleans. The Société was composed of both professional and amateur creole musicians”(18).

In fact, to go back to the previous issue, the relation between opera and jazz is fundamental in order to properly understand and evaluate the origin of the new afro-american music of the early twentieth century. As a consequence of their capability of attending the French Opera House, some of the most distinguished and original representatives of the first generation of jazz musicians incorporated operatic elements within their individual styles. Joshua Berrett  quotes an interview with the famous trumpet player and then comments, as follows: ”Richard Hadlock: ”There’s a lot of feeling of opera singing”; Armstrong: ”Most of it in the olden days-French opera and things like that. Most of that music comes from opera”; Hadlock: ”Bechet had a lot of it in him”; Armstrong: ”(Spontaneously bursts out singing the melody of Maddalena’s opening line: ” Ah!, Ah! Rido ben di core/Ché tai baie costan poco” from the RigolettoQuartet). That’s the first thing that I used to make all the time”. The excerpt from the Rigoletto Quartet is fully consistent with what is known about Armstrong’s earliest preferences in music. When he started buying records around 1917 or 1918 he gravitated toward leading pop and opera singers as well as the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, a fact that is borne out by his comments to Richard Meryman: ”Big event for then was buying a wind-up Victrola. Most of my records were the Original Dixieland Jazz Band-Larry Shield and his bunch. They were the first to record the music I played. I had Caruso records too, and Henry Burt, Galli-Curci, Tetrazzini-they were all my favorites. Then there was the Irish tenor, McCormack-beautiful phrasing”. This taste in record collecting was formed in part by the environment in which he grew up. Armstrong’s initial exposure to Italian singers took place against a background of southern Italian immigrants crowded into the neighboorhoods of the French Quarter, Storyville, and environsduring the first decade or so of the twentieth century”. (19)

New Orleans clarinet and soprano saxophone virtuoso Sidney Bechet, who would become famous in France and Europe in the Twenties, where he played first in 1919 (with Will Marion Cook) and then from 1925 to 1931, in theatrical revues and with his groups, and who would spend in France, acclaimed as a sort of national musical hero (20), the last period of his life(1949-1959), was also exposed to opera and its vocal interpreters. “He always retained fond memories of visiting the Opera House with his mother, and from childhood loved the sound of the tenor voice. Some of the first gramophone recordings that he ever heard were of Enrico Caruso; the dramatic vibrato and the panache of the great singer made their mark on the youngster’s imagination”(21).

The case of Jelly Roll Morton, pianist and composer, is even more interesting, in this respect. Almost surely, he also attended the French Opera house and heard French and Italian melodies from various operas (22): works that, like in the case of Armstrong and Bechet, would influence his future melodicconcepts and inventions. But in 1938, as we know, Morton recorded for Alan Lomax and the Archive of Folk Song, at the Library of Congress a long serie of vocal and piano memories of his life, some of which enlighten the French and European sources of early jazz inspirations- and Morton’s too. The most relevant of this long serie is probably Tiger Rag.The Quadrille (23). In this celebrated recording, the creole New Orleans master plays at the piano different melodies of a quadrille.  The term quadrille originated in 17th-century military parades in which four mounted horsemen executed square formations. The quadrille was introduced in France around 1760: originally it was a form of cotillion in which only two couples were used, but two more couples were then added to form the sides of a square. The “quadrille des contredanses” was thus a lively dance with four couples, arranged in the shape of a square, each couple facing the center. One pair was called the “head” couple, the adjacent pairs the “side” couples. A dance figure was often performed first by the head couple and then repeated by the side couples. In musical terms, the quadrille was formed by five or six parts (in its Austrian version), that is by five or six melodies based on popular dances and tunes. In Austria, Josef Lanner and Johann Strauss Jr. composed various quadrilles, and in fact Morton quotes, playing the piano, a waltz strain(or melody). The melody, or strain, that Jelly Roll Morton calls the Quadrille is then played again by him in a rhythmically syncopated way, to show how this dance (probably adapted for the piano, as it often happened with sheet music of that time) was transformed into Tiger Rag, one of the first and most famous compositions of early jazz. Morton, as he often did, tried to attribute to his uncommon skills and attributes the composition of Tiger Rag, which is false. But this is not relevant. What is important is that through his personal oral memories and his refined examplifications at he piano, this early master of Afro-American music showed to Lomax and to the world how early jazz used to transform European written sources, be it a waltz or a dance-song form related to the quadrille: that is changing some of their rhythmic features and adding, sometimes, improvised melodic lines (which, by the way, was a common practice among european classical pianists of the nineteenth century, a practice almost surely imitated by american jazzmen of the first generations. The difference between jazzmen and classical pianissts, besided the rhythmic approach, consists in the use of blue notes and related chords). Which is more or less what traditional jazz, mainly born in New Orleans, is about: a superimposition of African and Afro-American ethnic and oral elements on a basis of mainly written european traditions, forms, repertoires, played by instrumental groups and instruments that belong to the european tradition (brass bands, marching bands, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, tuba, violin, bass, piano).

European, and thus also French, were music New Orleans music teachers and methods, like the celebrated trumpet metod (1864) by Jean-Baptiste Arban (1825-1889), used among others by Louis Armstrong. French was Mathieu-Auguste Panseron(1795-1859), a singer and vocal teacher, whose method for solfège was widespread in the New Orleans musicians’ community, including creole and black early jazz instrumentalists (25). It more than likely that many of the components of the renamed New Orleans brass bands and marching bands used to study on such methods. These Louisiana bands were part of a more general wave for bands in the whole United States in the post-Civil War period. As music historian Charles Hamm has noted, bands, beginning with John Philip Sousa’s famous United States Marine Band, were a very relavant part, during the nineeenth century, of the uplift of a genuine and distinctive American musical identity; their repertoire would include marches, European dances, reductions and adaptations from European operas, excerpts from classical compositions and some tunes written by american composers, like Stephen Foster. The broad American bands movement, of which the New Orleans one is just a little part, mostly derived, according to Hamm (24), from eighteenth century English sources. Nobody has so far researched the French roots of New Orleans bands, that have certainly been relevant in terms of arrangement style, instrumental approach and printed repertoire.

That could be a further step into the “French tinge” puzzle of New Orleans jazz.



(1)The free and provocative, sexy bodily behavour of the girls goes back to the parisian days of Le Moulin Rouge and other clubs, which opened in the French capital in the last years of the nineteenth  century. Moulin Rouge launched a dance called can-can; in this same place one of the female stars was La Goulou, Louis Joséphine Weber, a girl who used to wear the typical can-can dresses and who appeared half naked in some black and white photographs of that period. She was portrayed by painter Henri de Toulouse Lautrec.   

(2) The first and most relevant literature on jazz, at the beginning of the Thirties, came from France and Belgium. Both writer and record producer Hugues Panassié, from Paris, and poet and lawyer Robert Goffin, from Bruxelles, influenced the subsequent birth of american jazz criticism. Panassié travelled in 1938 to New York, where he stayed six months; Goffin lived in New York during the WW2 years, where he would organize in 1942, with young British expatriated Leonard Feather, music journalist and pianist, the first University course on jazz, at the New York School for Social Research. Among other books, Panassié must me remembered for his volume Le Jazz Hot (Correa, Paris 1934), and Goffin for his Aux frontiéres du jazz, Le Sagittaire, Paris 1932. Two books by Panassié, who was the first in the world to develop, in his writings, some theoretical concepts on jazz, have been published in the Usa.

(3) The French West African empire included Dahomey (currently Benin), French Sudan (currently Mali), Guinea, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Upper Volta (currently Burkina Faso), French Togoland (currently Togo) and the encalves of Forcados and Badjibo (currently in Nigeria).

(4) See Ned Sublette, The World that Made New Orleans. From Spanish Silver to Congo Square, Lawrence Hill Books, Chicago 2008, p.5.

(5) See Jerah Johnson, Jim Crow Laws and the Origins of New Orleans Jazz. Correction of an Error, in Popular Musicn.2, April 2000, Cambridge University Press, pp.243-251.

(6) Henry A.Kmen, Music in New Orleans. The Formative Years, 1791-1841, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge 1966, p.56.

(7) Concerning free blacks in New Orleans and Louisiana, see Creole. The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s Free People of Color, edited by Sybil Kein, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge 2000.

(8) Frederick Starr, Bamboula! The Life and times of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Oxford University Press, Oxford and London 1995, pp.35-36.

(9) Wilfrid Mellers, Music in a New Found Land. Themes and Developments in the History of American Music, Faber and Faber, London 1987, p. 251.

(10) Concerning Dedé, see Sally McKee, The Exile’s Song. Edmond Dedé and the Unfinished Revolutions of the Atlantic World, Yale University Press, New Haven and London 2017.McKee reports that, according tothe French 1807 census, the number of colored and mixed race people living in France was around 5.000, a really considerable number (see p.98).

(11) Henry H.Kmen, Music in New Orleans. The Formative Years, 1791-1841, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge 1966, p.144.

(12) Howard Reich and William Gaines, Jelly’s Blues, Da Capo Press, New York 2003 p.16.

(13) See Samuel Charters. A Trumpet Around the Corner. The Story of New Orleans Jazz, University Press of Mississippi, Jackson Usa 2008, p. 50.

(14) John Chilton, Sidney Bechet. The Wizard of Jazz, Macmillan Press, Houndsmills and London 1987, pp. 1-2.

(15) See

(16) See Alan Lomax, Mister Jelly Roll. The Fortunes of Jelly Roll Morton, New Orleans Creole and “Inventor of jazz”, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London 2001, p.3. But see also, in the same book, Lawrence Gushee’s Afterword. Gushee, page 327, proposes an updated and more precise ancestry of the New Orleans musician. According to Lawrence Gushee, Morton’s father Edward J. Lamothe, 1865-1938, was a bricklayer and contractor, his mother Louise Monette was born in 1872 and dead in 1906, while his grandparents were Martin Lamothe, Henriette Jaillot, Julien Monette and Laura Peché. Morton’s ancestry goes back to the eighteen century: his grand-grand-grandfather, Jean-Baptiste Peché, was born in Geneva, Suisse.

(17) Moreover, Professor Matt Sakakeeny, Tulane University, New Orleans, states that even slaves were admitted to the New Orleans French Opera House, although only on Sundays and seating at the second floor of the theatre, while free blacks and creoles sat at the first, and whites at the ground floor. See Mathilde Zagala, Comparaison de trois methodolgies d’analyse du rhythme:le “trois sur quatre” dans la musique écrite à la Nouvelle Orleans d’avant le jazz enregistré, 1835-1917, Dissertation, University of Paris Sorbonne, 2016, page 82, note 220.

(18)  See Eye Candy, Black History: Congo Square, New Orleans – the Heart of American Music, in orleans.heart-american-music, 26/2/2018.

(19) Joshua Berrett, The Louis Armstrong Companion, Schirmer Book, New York 1999, pp. 26-27.

(20) During his long residency in France, after WW2, Sidney Bechet became a very successful interpreter of the so called revival of traditional jazz, playing both with his group and with French orchestras and bands, like Claude Luter’s. He was also, in general, a beloved recording artist:his composition Petit fleur, recorded by Bechet’s All Stars for French label Vogue in 1952 and produced by Charles Delaunay, sold over a million copies. On the last period of Bechet in Paris and France see Andy Fry, Paris Blues. African American Music and French Culture, 1920-1950, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London 2014, and Rashida Braggs, Jazz diasporas. Race, music and migration in post-world war II Paris, University of California Press, Oakland 2016.

(21) See John Chilton, Sidney Bechet. The Wizard of Jazz, Macmillan Press, Houndmills and London 1987, p. 5.

(22) One of these operas, which also Sidney Bechet heard at he French Opera House, and incorporated in some of his recorded melodies and improvisations, is Giuseppe Verdi’s Miserere. See Andy Fry, The ‘Caruso of Jazz’ and ‘Creole Benvenuto Cellini’, Verdi Miserere, in Cambridge Opera Journal, vol. 28, 2016.

(23) See Jelly Roll Morton, Kansas City Stomp, Rounder CD 1091. In this recording, originally issued on LP by Riverside Records, there are two different pieces entitled Tiger Rag.The Original Quadrille, one after the other.

(24) Charles Hamm, Music in the New World, Norton, New York 1983, pp. 339-370.

(25) Email exchange, 8/9/2021, with Bruce Boyd Raeburn. Raeburn, now retired, has been for many years the Director of Hogan Archive, Tulane University, New Orleans.



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Braggs, R. 2014. Jazz diasporas. Race, music and migration in post-world war II Paris, University of California Press, Oakland .

Candy, E. 2018(26/2/2018).Black History: Congo Square, New Orleans – the Heart of American Music, in orleans.heart-american-music

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Charters, S. 2008. A Trumpet Around the Corner. The Story of New Orleans Jazz, University Press of Mississippi, Jackson USA.

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Fry, A., 2014. Paris Blues. African American Music and French Culture, 1920-1950, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.

Fry, A.2016.The ‘Caruso of Jazz’ and ‘Creole Benvenuto Cellini’, Verdi Miserere, in Cambridge Opera Journal, vol. 28.

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Hamm., C. 1983. Music in the New World, Norton, New York.

Johnson, J. 2000. Jim Crow Laws and the Origins of New Orleans Jazz. Correction of an Error, in Popular Music n.2, April, Cambridge University Press.

Kein, S. (ed.)2000. Creole. The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s Free People of Color, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge.

Lomax, A. 2001(1950), Mister Jelly Roll. The Fortunes of Jelly Roll Morton, New Orleans Creole and“Inventor of jazz”, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London.

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the Atlantic World, Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

Mellers, W. 1987. Music in a New Found Land. Themes and Developments in the History of American Music, Faber and Faber, London.

Panassie, H. 1934. Le Jazz Hot (Correa, Paris)

Reich, H. and Gaines, W. 2003. Jelly’s Blues, Da Capo Press, New York 2003.

Starr, F. 1995. Bamboula! The Life and times of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Oxford University Press, Oxford and London.

Sublette, N. 2008. The World that Made New Orleans. From Spanish Silver to Congo Square, Lawrence Hill Books, Chicago.

Zagala, M. 2016.Comparaison de trois methodolgies d’analyse du rhythme:le “trois sur quatre” dans la musique écrite à la Nouvelle Orleans d’avant le jazz enregistré, 1835-1917, Dissertation, University of Paris Sorbonne.



Jelly Roll Morton, Kansas City Stomp, Rounder CD 1091, 1993.