1940 41

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aec.cls751.2
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ID: aec.cls751.2

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    1940 41 Classics
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Review Text While jazz wasn't technically "against the law" in Paris during the Nazi occupation, the Gestapo could and did harass the population, straining everything through the iron sieve of Nazi ideology. Some individuals were actually arrested and sent away to the camps simply for owning and listening to jazz records. Certainly all jazz performers were at risk for creating the subversive stuff in the first place. It all depended on the temperament and preferences of individual Germans in positions of control. Some Nazis liked jazz a lot. Others, particularly in the SS, despised this "degenerative" music and would oppress those responsible for it. Musicians who were found to be playing jazz might receive a gratuity, or a beating. Some were placed under arrest. Apprehended jazz musicians might be sent to work for the Propaganda Ministry, providing swing-styled accompaniments for popular dance tunes doctored up with anti-Semitic, anti-Churchill, and -- after December 1941 -- anti-American lyrics. Some were simply sent to the camps as enemies of the Reich. Alix Combelle seems at first an unlikely candidate for membership in the French Resistance. Yet the very act of associating with Gypsies and Afro-Americans was a form of cultural resistance, as was the making of authentic jazz records. Combelle deliberately chose material originated by Pete La Roca, Johnny Mercer, Isham Jones, Bix Beiderbecke, Ray Bauduc, Jimmie Lunceford, Sy Oliver, and Count Basie. While titles were often changed to mask the original tunes, Combelle was also tailoring the jazz for French audiences. It's all good-time music with tight arrangements and flashy solos. Django Reinhardt is featured on some of the 1940 sides, and his presence should attract those who want to absorb everything the man ever played. But the real reason to obtain this disc is to be able to enjoy the stimulating sounds of Parisian big-band swing -- including a very close cover of Glenn Miller's hit "In the Mood," making an incognito appearance as "Ambiance." A brisk "Divertissement" sounds almost like something out of the Raymond Scott book. You've got to hand it to these French musicians. Right under the noses of the German authorities, they listened very carefully to American jazz, skillfully imitating it while adding some of their own sauce. ~ arwulf arwulf

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