100 years ago World War 1 came to an end after 10 million had died; the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1919 was to carry off a further 50 million. In Great Britain, women had finally been granted the vote (celebrated in our concert with the song That Ragtime Suffragette) and political upheavals were going on all over post-war Europe.
The soundtrack to all this was being supplied by the Americans – if any confirmation were needed that the Western World had finally gone completely off its rocker it was to be found in the Ragtime, Blues and early Jazz that became such a hit across Britain and Europe, much to the consternation and downright annoyance of the guardians of moral and musical propriety.
We’ll be presenting this music with all of the freshness, wild irreverence and vulgarity it had when first heard. In its undiluted form it still has the power to shock and surprise. It also amuses – it was popular entertainment above all. The audience of the time sought novelty: some as a means of escaping the world gone mad, some as a means of joining it.
Much of the concert’s programme features the music of British composers and bands responding to the new musical influences coming from over the Atlantic. We end in 1919 as this was the year when the first American jazz bands visited Great Britain – the extraordinarily successful Original Dixieland Jazz Band and The Southern Syncopators featuring the great Sidney Bechet.
The music of this time is now largely unknown. African-American and European traditions were blended to create something new which has dominated our musical lives ever since.
Come and discover how it began.
Part of the Jazz Repertory Company’s 10th anniversary celebration of its association with Cadogan Hall.