Various Artists – European Jazz – Volume 01 – Vocalists (2012)

FrontCover1.jpgAt one time, the concept of “European Jazz” meant very little indeed. While jazz was developing in the USA in the 1920s, there was almost no European jazz to speak of. Some Americans – Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Sidney Bechet – came to Europe and made an impact there in the 1930s but it was not until the thirties that Europeans began to develop their own jazz significantly. Perhaps the most outstanding group was the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, formed in 1934, with its two virtuosos Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli.

This group is not represented in this ten-CD boxed set, which suggests that the compilation is making no attempt at a historical survey. Indeed, it is difficult to know what this set is trying to do. It seems as if the compilers simply put together tracks to which they had access, and there is little attempt to provide a balanced view of European jazz. Nevertheless, this collection can be educative in opening our ears to some artists we may not have heard before. It also supplies a cross-section (albeit limited) of how Europeans developed jazz, mostly in the 1950s and 1960s.

Monica Zetterlund1

This compilation makes it clear that European jazz was very much influenced by the Americans. For example, the tenorist on track 2 of the third CD sounds very like Stan Getz, while the altoist on the third track betrays the influence of Charlie Parker. And the Michael Naura Quintet on the eighth CD could be mistaken for the Modern Jazz Quartet.

I can’t tell you who most of the individual musicians are, as detailed personnels are sadly not given. This is a nuisance, as I would like to be able to identify (for instance) the bongo Brandenburgplayer on track 9 of the fifth CD. However, one lesson of many tracks in this collection is that many Europeans learnt from the bebop pioneers – and from such groups as the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. As most of the tracks in this compilation come from the fifties and sixties, there is little individuality in the music from the different countries, as it was only later that they began to develop their own distinctive styles.

I shall not attempt to describe the music in detail but will simply pick out tracks, artists or groups of note. Most discs are devoted to particular countries but the first CD concentrates on vocalists or (in the case of Les Double Six and the Polka Dots) vocal groups. Britain’s own Annie Ross opens the first disc in style. The French group Les Double Six was a sextet which got its name from its practice of double-tracking the voices. Lita Roza wasn’t really a jazz singer but Cleo Laine was – and still is. The weakness of this selection is that all the tracks were recorded during the comparatively brief period of 1955 to 1960. (by

Les Double Six

No, no, no … this compilation is not so weak, as we read above … it´s a great compilation with lots of rarities from the young European Jazz-Scene during the 50´!


01. Annie Ross: – I‘m Just A Lucky So And So (Ellington) 4.49uncaZetterlund
02. Zetter: Deep In A Dream (v.Heusen/Delange) 2.28
03. Les Double Six: Stockholm Sweetnin‘ (Jones) 5.39
04. Cleo Laine: Sugar (Pinkard) 3.15
05. Jula De Palma: Pennies From Heaven (Burke/Johnston) 2.14
06. Inge Brandenburg: What A Difference A Day Made (Graver/Adams) 2.57
07. Lita Roza: That Old Black Magic (Arlen/Mercer) 2.58
08. Cleo Laine: April In Paris (Duke) 2.30
09. Rita Reys: Zon In Scheveningen (Reys/Jacobs) 3.25
10. Alice Babs: Many Tears Ago (Winfield) 3.02
11. Monica Zetterlund: Detour Ahead (Carter/Ellis/Frigo) 2.49
12. Lita Roza: Guilty (Kahn) 3.26
13. The Polka Dots: Monday Date (Hines) 2.05
14. Cleo Laine: April Age (Wilder) 3.05
15. Jula De Palma: Just One Of Those Things (Porter) 3.20
16. Inge Brandenburg: It‘s Alright With Me (Porter) 3.50
17. Les Double Six: Il y a fort longtemps (Evening In Paris) (Jones/Prerrin) 4.22



The Polka Dots


More European Jazz will come in the next weeks: