90: Americans in Paris
The tradition of American expatriate jazz musicians in Europe goes back a hundred years. In the bebop generation many American musicians found a home along the Seine, including Bud Powell, Kenny Clarke, and Johnny Griffin. Quite a few of those who settled abroad were great innovators and stylists who settled there for a variety of reasons. But there were always musicians who had been unknown at home who ended up on the other side of the pond as well.
What leads musicians to move halfway across the world to a place where they don’t speak the language, hold no currency, and are strangers?
Love, what else?
Both of the guys I’m talking to today, bassist Peter Giron and trumpeter Andrew Crocker, went to France with little or no understanding of what they were getting themselves into other than the desire to be with a woman, and maybe a sense that they didn’t fully fit where they came from.
And both of them have become fully integrated into the French scene. Today they are not so much expatriates as they are immigrants. It’s a distinction that I was not really prepared for when I approached these interviews and it really got me thinking about what it means to be American, and what it means to be an immigrant.