Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 20 January |
Saint of the Day: St. Sebastian
home iconNews
line break icon

Theatre Review: ‘Le Jazz Hot: How the French Saved Jazz’

DR

Christopher White - published on 12/27/13

If it’s the French who saved jazz, it’s the American Anderson brothers who have captured those sentiments and preserved it as a part of our repertoire today.

“If it weren’t for France, jazz would be dead,” observed the great jazz trumpeter Quincy Jones. While jazz might be a quintessential American art form, it was the French that provided a home for jazz musicians to thrive. This is the story told in Le Jazz Hot: How the French Saved Jazz, a new ninety-minute musical revue playing off-Broadway at 59e59 Theatres in New York.

Complete with over fifteen jazz standards, such as “C’est Si Bon,” “Paris Blues,” and “Clair de Lune,” Le Jazz Hot chronicles the hits of jazz legends Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Josephine Baker, among others. While America was plagued by racial tensions and class divides that hindered the popularity of these artists, the French proved to be a more welcoming audience and better financial patrons of jazz musicians, hence the massive wave of American jazz musicians to Paris in the early twentieth century.

At the helm of this production are twin brothers, Peter and Will Anderson, who impressively serve as writer and director, along with playing the saxophone, clarinet, and flute. They are supported by three other musicians on the guitar, bass, and drums, and together this five-piece ensemble masterfully transforms a small black box theatre into a Parisian café.

While the show is peppered with narration and documentary style film clips that provide the historical context for the show’s material, the primary vehicle for storytelling is its music.  And tell a story it does: a story of hope and optimism in a time of world turbulence and uncertainty that still uplifts the soul today.

At the performance I attended, I took great delight in the sheer joy this music brought those in attendance. As I scanned the room during the various numbers, I saw couples holding one another’s hands, kisses being exchanged, smiles shared with strangers, and an all around spirit of le joie de vivre competing with the music for space in the room.

The audience in attendance was a mix of young and old—seasoned music lovers and those being introduced to jazz for the first time.  The casual café style seating allows for a relaxed environment, in which audience members are encouraged to sip on a few drinks, enjoy small conversation, and participate in the very ambience of what makes jazz more than just a performance—it’s an experience.

Le Jazz Hot pays tribute to France for its contributions in ensuring that jazz was kept alive for future generations to enjoy. Yet if it’s the French who saved jazz, it’s the American Anderson brothers who have captured those sentiments and preserved it as a part of our repertoire today.

Le Jazz Hot: How the French Saved Jazz is currently running at 59e59 Theatres in New York City. Conceived, written, and directed by Peter and Will Anderson. 

Tags:
France
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on YouTube for kids with...
2
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
3
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
Reasons Catholics should read the Bible
4
SAINT RITA CASCIA
Bret Thoman, OFS
Traces of miracles remain at the birthplace of St. Rita of Cascia
5
MARTIN LUTHER KING
Jorge Graña
Did you know Martin Luther King appreciated the Rosary?
6
POPE JOHN PAUL II
Philip Kosloski
St. John Paul II's formula for defeating evil in the world
7
couple
Anna Gębalska-Berekets
Couple praises Padre Pio's recipe for a happy marriage
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.