The Nice Jazz Festival

  • Bob Wilber


The festival, held in late February 1948, lasted a full week. The atmosphere was electric. It was the first major jazz festival ever held, and it was taking place in a country that had been ravaged by war and starved of jazz for six long years. The event was sponsored by the Hot Clubs of France under the chairmanship of Hugues Panassié, and its focal point was the triumphant return to Europe of the great Louis Armstrong, the most celebrated and beloved artist in jazz history. Supporting Louis were his newly formed All Stars, comprising Earl Hines, Jack Teagarden, Sid Catlett, Barney Bigard and Arvell Shaw, with Velma Middleton on vocals. Also from the States came Mezz Mezzrow’s band, together with a six-piece outfit, led by Rex Stewart with Sandy Williams on trombone, which had been touring Europe. Django Reinhardt and the Quintet represented France in the swing era, while Claude Luter’s band symbolized the New Orleans revival.


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© Bob Wilber 1987

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  • Bob Wilber

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