“The story of jazz in France is not simply a story of the generations of expatriate musicians who found welcoming audiences in Paris. Nor is it solely a matter of the ways the French heard jazz as a paradigm of modernity and learned to play it in their own way. Instead, as Rashida K. Braggs demonstrates in this groundbreaking cultural history, jazz has been crucial above all because of the new kinds of social scenes it made possible when it ‘migrated’ across the Atlantic. With suggestive reconsiderations of pantheon figures (Bechet, Baldwin) as well as revelatory interpretations of some deserving of wider recognition (above all, the singer and club owner Inez Cavanaugh), Jazz Diasporas is a major contribution.”
—Brent Hayes Edwards, Columbia University, author of The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism
“With enticing ethnographic details and a distinctive historicization of Parisian jazz, Rashida K. Braggs positions Paris as a vital site for the development of ‘Black jazz’ and adroitly exposes the myth of Paris as a racial paradise for African American musicians living exilic lives. By relating the stories of African Americans with white French, the analysis of film with literature, and the postwar era with today, Braggs leaves us with a colorfully interwoven and productively complex image of jazz and the experiences it embodies when it migrates. This exceptional, comprehensive work clearly illustrates Braggs’s innovative and valuable conceptualization of ‘jazz diasporas’ as spaces that trouble national, racial, and artistic boundaries.”
—Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, University of Texas at Austin, author of Theatrical Jazz: Performance, Àse, and the Power of the Present Moment
“Out of this story, Braggs maintains that jazz still can and should be defined in relation to its African American origins (and current African American practitioners), but that it can also be viewed as a figurative space for improvisations beyond category—a form that can potentially create new kinds of communities that are themselves as contingent, engaging, challenging, and even liberating, as the music. In this respect, Braggs’s book is arguably a key example of scholarship in the developing field of critical improvisation studies. In addition to the valuable biographical and historical material in Jazz Diasporas, the book will also be refreshing to various audiences due to its fleet engagement with critical discourse from the fields of jazz studies, performance studies, gender and sexuality studies, and critical race theory.” —Rob Wallace, North Arizona University, author of Improvisation and the Making of American Literary Modernism and co-editor of People Get Ready: The Future of Jazz is Now!
“In this informative and well-written book, Braggs investigates the lives, careers, and motivations of African American jazz musicians who immigrated to Paris in the years afterWorld War II. She connects this international migration to the Great Migration following the outbreak of the First WorldWar during which hundreds of thousands of African Americans began leaving the South in an attempt to improve their life chances and those for their children.” —Clyde C. Robertson, Southern University at New Orleans, author and editor of Africa Rising: Multidisciplinary Discussions on Africana Studies and History
“The last day of the conference started off with a workshop on “Jazz Research through Embodied Performance,” facilitated by our visiting scholar Dr. Rashida K. Braggs. Rashida introduced us to her research on Jazz Diasporas, the history of Jazz performance, and music and performance historiography. Afterwards, the whole group was invited to participate in a performance exercise: In groups of four to five people, our participants should express their thoughts about “diaspora” in either sound or movement performances. While it certainly took a lot of courage for some to step out of their comfort zone, all groups came up with very diverse, innovative and cleverly thought out performances- a profound experience.”