It's well known that throughout the 20th century, fed up with poor working conditions and racism in their home country, many American jazz musicians chose to leave the US in order to live and work in Europe. What's less well known is how their music developed and evolved during their time on the continent, and how the experience of being a musician in Europe was to shape their respective lives.
Over the years countless jazz concerts, festivals and recordings featuring American jazz musicians have taken place all over Europe, yet it's remarkable how few of these musical artifacts have been evaluated by the jazz community. We seek to assess the European experiences of the American jazzmen, with a specific focus on the progressive sounds of modal jazz and the avant garde. We examine the recordings made by those who crossed the Atlantic just to take in a short tour, as well as those who made more frequent trips, and of course those for whom Europe ultimately became their permanent place of residence.
Radical new jazz sounds created as renowned ex-pat American jazzmen mingled with the creme de la creme of their European counterparts. Early developments in world music inspired by trans-global cultural excursions to Asia, Africa and beyond. Exchanges of ideas and a cultural meeting of minds as revolutionary jazz festivals took place behind the Iron Curtain. Advances in rhythm and sound where modal jazz and the prophetic music of John Coltrane merged with European folk traditions. This is Spiritual Jazz - as played by Americans in Europe.