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Norman Granz : The man who made justice through jazz
an article by Kiki Chauvin

It was by listening to the radio show France Musique every Sunday morning "You don't mess with jazz music" that I discovered Norman Granz. This American of Russian origin, was an impresario, producer and patron of jazz during the civil rights years in the United States after World War Two.

Ella Fitzgerald and Norman Granz at microphone

click on photo to enlarge

He popularized jazz, putting his love of music above the segregationist practices of the time when Black and white musicicians and audiences were kept separate in most venues. Combining excellent musicians, small clubs and nightclubs, he produced a group , the "JATP : Jazz At The Philharmonic." The troupe, made up of Black and white artists began in 1944 in Los Angeles and saw immediately a huge success in the U.S., prior to touring in Canada and around the world.

It was revolutionary to have a multi-racial spectacle in the years after the war. Yet the JATP performed in prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York. Norman Ganz was neither musician nor composer, and not even a singer, but he gave wings to jazz. He gave the right to life to music that the racist climate at the time considered to be only "ethnic music" where you should allow people of different skin colors to mix!

Not only did he create a new style of jazz, more free, more natural, more spontaneous, but he did so with a deep respect for the musicians. In his concerts all artists had the same rights : equal pay, equal dressing rooms, equal benefits ...

He said himself that what he wanted was : "Combating racism, producing good music and making money with good music !"

He even succeeded in ending the policies of segregation in clubs by the club-owners !

For 40 years Norman Granz produced , sponsored and encouraged the JATP which launched the best of the best in the world of jazz ... John Coltrane , Oscar Peterson , Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole, just to name a few . ..

In 1983, he abandoned his career and in 2001 he died at the age of 87.

Norman Granz reminds me of another man, a man of our time, musician, pianist and conductor Daniel Barembo´m, who brings Palestinians and Israelis together, both musicians and audiences, through the "West-Eastern Divan Orchestra" (See CPNN, November 26, 2012).

It's great to see how music is the language of our universal culture, how it is a long-range harbinger of hope for people, whether they are round, white .. . or black !

(Click here for a French version of this article)


Question(s) related to this article:

What place does music have in the peace movement?,

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Latest reader comment:

As of now, there are 33 CPNN articles on this theme, which shows the great extent to which music is the universal language of peace!

This report was posted on November 6, 2013.