How did French musicians and critics interpret jazz—that quintessentially American music—in the mid-twentieth century? How far did players reshape what they learned from records and visitors into more local jazz forms, and how did the music figure in those angry debates that so often suffused French cultural and political life? After Django begins with the famous interwar triumphs of Josephine Baker and Django Reinhardt, but, for the first time, the focus here falls on the French jazz practices of the postwar era. The work of important but neglected French musicians such as André Hodeir and Barney Wilen is examined in depth, as are native responses to Americans such as Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. The book provides an original intertwining of musical and historical narrative, supported by extensive archival work; in clear and compelling prose, Perchard describes the problematic efforts towards aesthetic assimilation and transformation made by those concerned with jazz in fact and in idea, listening to the music as it sounded in discourses around local identity, art, 1968 radicalism, social democracy, and post colonial politics.
“Perchard significantly advances our understanding of jazz in post–WWII France by giving us a deep and sophisticated analysis of the music’s intersection with some of the larger issues of the day, including national identity, political tension, and evolving definitions of artistic culture. He provides a very rich picture of how jazz functioned locally within a global context. In addition, he makes a significant historiographical intervention by asking jazz historians and French historians to rethink their assumptions about how jazz became ‘assimilated’ into French culture. I know of no other comparable book.”
—Jeffrey Jackson, Rhodes College
“After Django is a vital contribution to the ongoing expanded scholarly account of jazz in its global dimension, written by an author who knows his stuff inside and out, and has consistently illuminating points to make about the Francophone scene that are transferable to a broader perspective on jazz as such, re-configuring many basic assumptions about a music all too preemptively conceived as authentically American.”
—Jed Rasula, University of Georgia
“France looms large in the history of jazz performance and criticism. Tom Perchard’s After Django is the most comprehensive study in English of French understandings of jazz, the music’s influence in French intellectual life and entertainment, and the impact of Francophone discourses on jazz cultures in the United States and elsewhere. The music itself remains front and center in the narrative, which will surely captivate jazzophile readers.”
—E. Taylor Atkins, Northern Illinois University
“In the rich but eminently readable After Django, Tom Perchard’s subject matter and approach offer a refreshing challenge to jazz scholarship. Perchard masterfully draws on a range of relevant theory and concepts to produce a nuanced understanding of jazz practices within a fascinating period in French cultural history.”
—Catherine Tackley, The Open University
“The way Perchard writes about music in After Django is tremendous. The balance the author strikes between history and criticism is exemplary, as good as anything I've read in recent years. This is a remarkable book that is bound to make a huge contribution.”
—Eric Drott, University of Texas at Austin
Cover photograph: Bobino, Paris, 17 January 1967 (left to right: Bernard Vitet, Alain Tabar-Nouval, unidentified, François Jeanneau, Barney Wilen, François Tusques). © Guy Kopelowicz.