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The role and function of jazz competitions in Belgium, 1932–1939

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 March 2021

Matthias Heyman
Affiliation:
Universiteit Antwerpen, Faculteit Politieke en Sociale Wetenschappen, Communication Sciences, Antwerpen 2000, Belgium
Corresponding

Abstract

This article focuses on a series of regional, national and international jazz competitions organised by the Jazz Club de Belgique between 1932 and 1939. In the early 1930s, contests for amateur jazz bands began to emerge in various European countries such as the UK, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Using the Belgian competitions as a case study, this article demonstrates that these were instrumental in the development of certain local jazz scenes, not only by offering budding talents an opportunity to be discovered, but more importantly in establishing a much-needed network of amateur and professional musicians, intermediaries, critics and fans. Furthermore, the argument is made that these events foreshadowed the first European jazz festivals to appear in the 1950s. Overall, it aims to demonstrate that the jazz contest is a valuable yet under-researched site for the promotion, socialisation, mediation, dissemination and popularisation of this music.

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Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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