Hughes Panassie

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Without question the first great non-American jazz critic, Hughes Panassie studied saxophone and began writing about the music at 18. He was a founder and later president of "The Hot Club De France" and…
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Without question the first great non-American jazz critic, Hughes Panassie studied saxophone and began writing about the music at 18. He was a founder and later president of "The Hot Club De France" and edited Jazz Hot from 1936 to 1947. He also wrote the book Le Jazz Hot, a mid-'30s treatise that was a leader among periodicals in addressing the music as a serious art form. Panassie organized a series of small-group recording sessions in 1938 with Mezz Mezzrow, Tommy Ladnier and Sidney Bechet that reportedly led to Eddie Condon's famous comment that "he didn't go over there (to France) and tell him how to stomp a grape." Count Basie recorded "Panassie' Stomp" that same year. Panassie recorded and produced a swing date led by Frankie Newton in 1939. But he was an avowed, unrepentant anti-bebop scribe, repeatedly denouncing the form as the antithesis of jazz. He continued the charges until his death in the mid-'70s. Panassie's extensive private collection now resides in the Discotheque Municipale at Villefranche-de-Rougergue.