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GREAT PERFORMANCES "Harlem in Montmartre"
Harlem in Montmartre
Explore the Lives of African Americans Who Transported Jazz Music to Paris
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Ada Bricktop Smith, Mabel Mercer and guests at Bricktop’s, a popular jazz club in Paris.

Great Performances

Harlem in Montmartre

Sunday, 8/30 at 2 p.m. on CPTV (original broadcast scheduled for 8/26 was pre-empted)

Beloved American jazz singer and bandleader Cab Calloway once said, “You hear about the Duke Ellingtons, the Jimmy Luncefords, the Fletcher Hendersons, but people sometimes forget that jazz was not only built in the minds of the great ones, but on the backs of the ordinary ones.” While far from ordinary, “Harlem in Montmartre” tells the story of the long-forgotten “extraordinary ones” who left America to create the jazz age in Paris between the First and Second World Wars. After peace was signed at Versailles, many black Americans remained in Europe rather than return to the brutal segregation and racism of America. Over the next two decades, they formed an expatriate community of musicians, entertainers and entrepreneurs, primarily congregating in Paris’ hilly Montmartre neighborhood. Some achieved enduring fame, while others faded into history.

Inspired by the book Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story (University of California Press) by historian William A. Shack and utilizing rare archival material from both France and America, this remarkable performance-driven documentary features the stories and music of such key figures as James Reese Europe, Josephine Baker, Sidney Bechet, Bricktop, Eugene Bullard, Django Reinhardt and more. “The film explores a fascinating, yet often neglected, era in African-American cultural history” says producer Margaret Smilow. “It is a colorful, musical, poignant look at the contributions of a select group of black Americans, without whom the collective voice of jazz music around the world would sound entirely different.” Learn more...

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