Jazz  •  Big Band/Swing

Continental Jazz

Continental Jazz is a long-established term coined to identify jazz-styled dance groups active in Greater Europe apart from Britain, generally limited to the period up until the end of World War II. Initially spurred on by the success of American groups traveling overseas (such as the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and Lt. James Reese Europe's Fighting 369th Infantry "Hell Fighters" Band), European musicians established a reputation for playing "hot" music by the mid-1920s. This was different from American Jazz, however, as the European variety of Hot Jazz was tempered by the influence of indigenous forms such as the Paris Chanson or German operetta. In some instances Continental Jazz bands were joined by American expatriates who helped add spice to the mix. The main centers of Continental Jazz were naturally Paris and Berlin, although decent Continental Jazz bands also turned up in such unlikely locations as Denmark, Czechoslovakia, and Switzerland. Poland, Italy and Russia were involved in this musical style to a somewhat lesser degree. With the Nazi incursion upon all of Europe during the Second World War, Continental Jazz began to disappear, and at war's end it did not spring back. By 1950, Bebop became the Jazz music of choice to be found in Paris and Scandinavia.