Between the two world war, we found in town many groups linked to dance and variety, rhythmical bearing suggestive names such Coliseum jazz, Broadway Jazz or Wonder Jazz. The formation of the violonist Jack Raymond who comes from Marseille, surrounded with Alix Combelle (sax tenor) and Pierre Allier (trumphet) had its hour of glory during the colonial exhibition of 1931 in Paris. Let’s remember that from 1925, the presence of an American community with the Gould or still the Fitzgerald on the French Riviera created a favorable ground to the emergence of a Jazz Côte Sud. At the Liberation, in the first number of Jazz Hot, during its reparution, we found an article more than flattering and tittled : “Hugues Panassié in Marseille, new capital of the jazz” in which the autor asserted that the presence of hundred American black jazz musicians in town makes of the section of Marseille of the Hot Club of France, the most privileged formation.
Jam-sessions were organized every Sunday at the Pélissier lounge at la Plaine. The jazz was also present in the Grand Hôtel Noailles thanks to the pianist Willy Molinetti. The Martinez, that is a vault of the typeSaint Germain des Prés in the street Armeny, also proposed concerts and dance hall. At the same moment, a section of the hot club was created in Aix-en-Provence under the leadership of Marcel Blache. In 1946, Mister Brunet (president of the Hot Club of Marseille) made Louis Amstrong came to Marseille. In 1948, Dizzy Gillespie and his big orchestra performed at the Opera. And the next year, it was the tour of Charlie Parker. Les grandes vedettes du Jazz prennent ainsi l’habitude de passer par Marseille.
The great years : 1950-1965
During the 50’s, in Marseille as somewhere else in France, we assisted at the fight of the upholders of the tradition and of the Bebop. On the side of the classic musicians, we found Jean Pierre Lindenmeyer, Léo Missir, Willy Molinetti, Gilbert Gassin and Marcel Zanini. For the modern musicians, we found Georges Arvanitas, Robert Pettinelli, Louis Belloni and in the rising generation we can found Henri Byrss, Alain Fougeret, Gadton Ménassé and Roger Luccioni. This two clans had their respective club : La Chistera for the first clan and the Saint James, which is a temple for the moderns. The Quintet of Robert Pettinelli with Eric Vidal, Georges Arvanitas, Edmond Aublette and Louis Belloni, was one of the best formation of the town. The Group (L’Ensemble) raffled the price of the amateur Grand Tournoi organized in Paris by André Francis and Charles Delaunay in front of more than 30 formations. If the journey of Marcel Zanini in the United States between 1954 and 1958 converted him to the most modern forms of the jazz, the quarrel between the formers and the moderns didn’t stop. At the end of the 50’s, René Bard who managed the Hot Club of Marseille, toke no risk and invited only safe bets (Sydney Bechet, Lionel Hampton et Count Basie). The schism was inevitable. In order to oppose the diktat of the bulletin of the Hot Club, even is parisianisme, Roger Luccioni and some of his friends like Pierre Bompar (who we found later in Jazz Magazine) launched the Jazz Hip review. This review evoked, besides concerts from Marseille, those of the capital, those of Juan etc, talked about cinema, about science fiction with rigor and however a lot of humor. The musical counterpart of the review was the Jazz Hip Trio where we saw Roger Luccioni at a double bass, Jean-Bernard Eisinger at the piano and Daniel Humair at drum. Several tracks composed by the trio were taken back by, among other, Didier Lockwood and Barney Wilen. They edited two disks at Riviera and composed soundtracks of movies (“Spiderman” of Rémy Grumbach) and of one television serie (“Madame êtes-vous libre?”). In the same time, Roger Luccioni set up more than 52 concert until the 60’s. He also had a jazz section in the newspaper “La Marseillaise”. In the newspaper “Le Provençal”, we found Jean Arnaud (director of the “Saint James”), who also animated a TV show and Jean- Louis Ginibre, in the show “Reflet du Jazz”, invited Georges Arvanitas and Willie Molinetti. Other Jazz Clubs started to open in town, such as the “L’intérieur”. The great series of concerts organised by Roger Luccioni were estiblished in many different places : Opéra de Marseille, Théâtre du Gymnase, Alcazar, salle Vallier, Casa d’Italia, Faculté de Médecine etc. Among those memorable concerts, we have to notice in 58 Charlie Mingus, Art Blakey and the Messengers, in 61 the famous show on the stage od the Alcazar with Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. In 63, we could hear Duke Ellington and his Big Band for a ball at the Medecine School in favor of the Search agains Cancer, Ray Charles and Oscar Peterson or in 64, Miles Davis. This year was a decisive year for the jazz in Marseille because Pierre Barbizet, director of Conservatoire National de Marseille since 1959, autorised Guy Longnon (Sydney Bechet trumpet player) to create the first Jazz Masterclass in the conservatoire in France. In this way, the first generation of teaching jazz musicians were born. The 60’s, it’s also in Marseille, the experience of Free Jazz.
From the end of the 70’s to Nowadays
If the 70’s haven’t been a great periode in the history of Jazz in Marseille, we have to remember that it is a women from Marseille : Simone Ginibre, who created in 1973 the very famous “Grande Parade du Jazz” in Nice. Former Jazz singer, she did some incredible shows in Marseille and Paris. She also followed Bud Powel. Wife of Jean-Louis Ginibre, director of Jazz Magazine, she will became the european manager of many stars of Jazz (Sarah Vaughan, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Stan Getz, Charlie Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock etc.). At the end of the 70’s, Marseille made a return into Jazz music. Jean Pelle, first at the “Passe-Temps” then, since 1979 with the “Pelle-Mêle”, made itself the great host of the Jazz stage in Marseille. The creation of the free radios allowed Jazz to find a more regular programmation. For 3 years, Jean Pelle had been journalist for France Inter Marseille with the show “Jazz à Pelle”. Radio Star, Forum 72, Radio Sud Contact, Fréquence Marseille and radio Grenouille offered their wave to Jazz.