Hugues Pannassie

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While he was a very important jazz critic in the 1930s, Hugues Panassie's fiery comments and inability to recognize bebop as a logical step beyond swing made him appear to be quite reactionary by the…
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While he was a very important jazz critic in the 1930s, Hugues Panassie's fiery comments and inability to recognize bebop as a logical step beyond swing made him appear to be quite reactionary by the late '40s and hurt his longtime reputation. Panassie began writing about jazz around 1930 and in 1932 helped found the Hot Club of France with his friend Charles Delauney. His pioneering 1934 work Le Jazz Hot was among the first serious books on jazz, although he amended many of his ideas (including the neglect of Duke Ellington) in 1942's The Real Jazz. Panassie was the editor of the magazine Jazz Hot and was a powerful force in European jazz during his prime. During visits to New York in 1938 and '39, he organized what would become knows as "The Panassie Sessions," small-group dates with Mezz Mezzrow (who became a close friend), James P. Johnson, Frankie Newton, Sidney Bechet and Tommy Ladnier. However, in the mid-1940s, he split with the more open-minded Delauney and became increasingly conservative and less significant to the jazz world. Late in life, Panassie wrote a Louis Armstrong biography (revised for its American edition in 1971).