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Democracy in Rhythm: Jazz in Paris



November 6, 2023 at 6:00 pm


“French-American Histories, one story, two narratives” is a program of virtual talks launched by the Villa Albertine in collaboration with the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA. Each episode reveals a different facet of the vibrant French-American tapestry, through interviews with leading scholars, experts, and practitioners conducted by Dr. Iris de Rode, an expert in the history of French-American relations. The interviews will be broadcasted live and recorded monthly at the French Embassy or other locations in the United States. For November, we are thrilled to host Paul Glenshaw, a filmmaker, artist and writer; for an episode focusing on Jazz and how it traveled to Paris.

“Democracy in Rhythm : Jazz in Paris”

An Interview with Paul Glenshaw

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Paul will discuss his upcoming documentary Democracy in Rhythm—Jazz in Paris. First brought to France by black American soldiers in WWI, jazz has been thriving in Paris for more than a century. Seen through contemporary eyes, the film explores the history and legacy of jazz artists and their music, bringing artists and audiences together in a profound expression of democracy.

Paul Glenshaw is a filmmaker, artist, writer, and educator. He is a longtime lecturer for the Smithsonian Associates. His most recent film is The Lafayette Escadrille, about the Americans who volunteered as fighter pilots for France in WWI. His jazz-related projects include the documentary Democracy in Rhythm—Jazz in Paris (in production), creating To Swing Through the Sky, a theater piece commissioned by George Mason University, and developing STEAM content for Jazz at Lincoln Center.



240 years ago, fighting side by side for American independence, France was the first ally of the newly formed United States of America. Since then, the two countries have stood firm as “Sister Republics”, championing shared principles of democracy, freedom, and equality. The durable partnership has been characterized by a shared ambition and a common necessity for cooperation in a wide variety of fields in an increasingly globalized world. These encounters, spanning more than two centuries and ranging from the military to economic policy, agriculture, trade, philosophy, art, science and technology, have resulted in dynamic, fruitful and inspirational cross-exchanges that have shaped the destiny of both countries.

The two countries have numerous similarities but also separate histories, cultures, and institutions, making the relation dynamic and creative, but also at times contentious. Over the years, comparable concepts that have been implemented in the distinct French and American cultures have flourished, but also encountered alteration, adaptation or even opposition, requiring hurdles to be overcome and compromises to be found. France and the United States have frequently expressed their conviction in a single, unifying story, yet they needed two narratives to tell their peoples: One Story, Two Narratives.

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