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Iván Iglesias, La modernidad elusiva: jazz, baile y política en la Guerra Civil española y el franquismo (1936-1968)

Madrid, CSIC – Consejo Superior de Investigacioes Científicas, 2017
Pedro Cravinho
Référence(s) :

Iván Iglesias, La modernidad elusiva: jazz, baile y política en la Guerra Civil española y el franquismo (1936-1968), Madrid, CSIC – Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 2017, 381 p.

Texte intégral

  • 1 Iglesias Iván, Improvisando la modernidad: El jazz y la España de Franco, de la Guerra Civil a la G (...)

1In November 2013, I was honoured to receive an invitation to deliver a keynote paper on jazz in Portugal at the First International Conference: Jazz in Spain, co-organised by the Music Department of Culturarts – Generalitat Valenciana and the Fundación Autor, together with the Universitat de València and the Universitat Politècnica de València. For three days in Valencia, this milestone event brought together a broad range of participants and hosted some stimulating discussions about the history of jazz not just in Spain but in Iberia more broadly, such as: “The Second Republic and Civil War”, “Dictatorship and Modernity” and “Modern Times”. I mention this because the topics of those exhilarating debates are called to mind in reading Iván Iglesias’s invigorating and enriching book La modernidad elusiva…, an adaptation of the author’s doctoral dissertation, awarded by the University of Valladolid in 2010.1

  • 2 Müller Lena J., Sound und Sexismus. Geschlecht im Klang populärer Musik. Eine feministisch-musikthe (...)

2La modernidad elusiva… is a significant contribution to the field of Jazz Studies. Written in Spanish, it has been published as part of the Biblioteca de Historia (History Library) collection of the Spanish Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spanish Higher Council for Scientific Research), which is dedicated to studies on medieval, modern and contemporary history. A compelling vision of jazz in Spain during the Civil War and Francoism (1936-1968), it has won the XXI Premios Nacionales de Edición Universitaria (21st National Awards for University Publications) prize for best monograph in the Arts and Humanities (2018). More recently, it received the IASPM Book Prize (2019) in the non-English-language category (jointly with Lena Müller’s Sound und Sexismus2).

3Iglesias is one of Spain’s world-leading academics in the field of jazz, and La modernidad elusiva… evinces a new and convincing investigative approach to examine the cultural politics of jazz in Spain during the Civil War and Franco era. The author’s innovative historical approach is based on an urban popular music perspective, and this rigorously written book is the result of intensive archival research, exploring a wealth of information collected on both sides of the Atlantic (Spain, Germany and the US). Structure-wise, in addition to an introduction, in which the author presents his theoretical framework, and a concluding synthesis, it comprises these eight chapters: Mito y olvido del jazz en la Guerra Civil Española (“Myth and oblivion of jazz in the Spanish Civil War”); Armas invisibles de la Guerra Civil: jazz y música popular (“Invisible weapons in the Civil War: jazz and popular music”); Improvisando aliados: jazz y política exterior en los años cuarenta (“Improvising allies: jazz and foreign policy in the 1940s”); Resistencias cotidianas: bailes modernos, cuerpo y género en la posguerra (“Everyday resistance: modern dances, body and gender in the post-war period”); ¡Bienvenido, Mister Hampton!: jazz y propaganda en la España de los años cincuenta (“Welcome, Mr Hampton! Jazz and propaganda in 1950s Spain”); Del jazz en España a España en el jazz (1956-1961) (“From jazz in Spain to Spain in jazz [1956–1961]”); Spain is different, ma non troppo: jazz y política cultural en el desarrollismo (“Spain is different, ma non troppo: jazz and cultural policy in developmentalism”); and Políticas y poéticas de la hibridación musical: el jazz-flamenco (“Politics and poetics of musical hybridisation: jazz-flamenco”).

  • 3 Una de las premisas de este libro es que, a lo largo del período estudiado, el jazz estuvo particu (...)
  • 4 Hall Stuart, 1996. “Introduction”, in Stuart Hall, David Held, Don Hubert and Kenneth Thompson (eds (...)
  • 5 Mouzelis, Nicos, 1999. “Modernity: A Non-European Conceptualization”, The British Journal of Sociol (...)
  • 6 “[...] como la suma de diversos procesos: el establecimiento de una economía capitalista; la consol (...)
  • 7 “[...] la primera es que en español se refiere a una entidad geográfica mucho más amplia que un paí (...)
  • 8 “[...] de pluralizar los focos de referencia del jazz en España, incorporando París, Berlín o Londr (...)
  • 9 “[...] ‘americanización’ puede ocultar el carácter bidireccional, aunque asimétrico, de las transfe (...)

4With regard to its interdisciplinary methodological approach, examining both social and musical contexts, the author alerts us in his introduction that “one of the premises of this book is that, throughout the period under investigation, jazz was closely linked to the transformations fomented or else consolidated by modernity” (p. 19).3 Borrowing the concept of “modernity” from Hall4 and Mouzelis5, the author clarifies that, here, “modernity” should be understood as the “sum of various processes: the establishment of a capitalist economy; the consolidation of a productive and dynamic society; the dominance of secular forms of authority and political power within the complex structures of the nation-state; and the progressive diffusion of a materialistic, individualistic, rationalist and globalised culture” (p. 20).6 While acknowledging the strong connection between “modernity” and globalization, and the vital role of the US in those processes, the author alerts us that he will be avoiding the term americanización (Americanisation) for four main reasons. The first is that “in Spanish, it refers to a geographic entity much broader than a country” (p. 20).7 The second justification is the author’s intention “to delve into the processes of adaptation and hybridisation of musical practices, rather than only in their mimesis” (Ibid.).8 The third is an opportunity to “pluralise the reference centres of jazz in Spain, incorporating Paris, Berlin or London” (Ibid.). Fourthly, according to the author, talking about “‘Americanisation’ obscures the bidirectional, albeit asymmetric, character of cultural transfers” (p. 19).9

  • 10 El jazz desempeñó un importante papel en la diplomacia cultural estadounidense en la España de los (...)

5The first two chapters provide a broad overview of the role of jazz in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), interrogating the extant literature about jazz in Spain and proposing an alternative understanding of the music of that time. The author offers a profound insight into the genre, against its historical, social and cultural background, and within the context of a unique and traumatic period of history. Further, it shows how jazz, or what at the time was perceived as jazz, could reveal different processes linked to escapism and how it was associated with new sound experiences. The author explains how jazz was identified with a series of dances of North American origin which were linked to urbanism and modernity, and he supports this with samples of urban popular music scores of American origin but published in Spain (p. 66-69). Chapters 3 and 4 analyse the place that jazz occupied in Franco’s regime during the 1940s, doing so from two complementary perspectives: the regime’s foreign policy and perceptions about the human body. With regard to the latter, we see how modern dances were perceived as a threat to the dominant Catholic vision of Spanish society. Chapter 5 deals with the role of jazz in the Spanish-American diplomatic rapprochement of the 1950s, encapsulated by its title, “Welcome, Mr Hampton!”. Jazz, it seems, was pivotal in relations between the two countries during the Cold War Era, and it had much to do with Spain’s privileged geostrategic location, governing access to the Mediterranean: “jazz played an important role in American cultural diplomacy in Spain in the 1950s and, in turn, American propaganda facilitated the visibility of the genre and access to concerts and recordings” (p. 224).10 Chapter 6 addresses jazz-flamenco; its coverage of some of the main themes means it would serve as a useful resource for a lecturer wishing to introduce students to this music. In its analyses of the links between music and politics, La modernidad elusiva transcends the Spanish border in the two remaining chapters. Thanks to its innovative approach, the book will leave readers with a better understanding of Miles Davis’s and John Coltrane’s Spanish and jazz-flamenco experiments.

6Taken as a whole, La modernidad elusiva… is an in-depth examination of the development of jazz in a specific diasporic location. Its rich and detailed analysis validates the use of an urban popular music approach, offering as it does a broad understanding of history, memory and geopolitics.

  • 11 Straka Manfred, “Cool Jazz in Europe”, in Luca Cerchiari, Laurent Cugny and Franz Kershbaumer (eds. (...)
  • 12 Fox Charles, Jazz in Perspective, London, British Broadcasting Corporation, 1969, p. 79.
  • 13 Johnson Bruce (ed.), Jazz and Totalitarianism, London, Routledge, 2017; Martinelli Francesco, The H (...)

7A brief postscript. A decade ago, in the book Eurojazzland, edited by Luca Cerchiari, Laurent Cugny and Franz Kershbaumer, one of its contributors, Manfred Straka, made the following sweeping statement: “During the Fascist dictatorship in Spain, which lasted from 1939 to 1975, jazz was condemned as a symbol of capitalism and Western decadence and was practically forbidden”11 (p. 218). To some extent, Straka’s simplistic and misleading remark was simply echoing previous erroneous assumptions; for example: “it was noticeable that jazz did not make the same inroads in Spain, Italy and other predominantly agrarian nations”.12 Comments like these are jarring, especially for those such as this reviewer, who has dedicated his life’s work to researching jazz in these so-called “agrarian nations”. We are fortunate that more recent publications – such as Jazz and Totalitarianism, edited by Bruce Johnson, and The History of European Jazz, edited by Francesco Martinelli13 – have begun to set the record straight for English readers and have aroused more interest in jazz in Spain. However, more remains to be done to correct such an unenlightened and plainly absurd narrative; as such, an English translation of La modernidad elusiva… would be very welcome.

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Notes

1 Iglesias Iván, Improvisando la modernidad: El jazz y la España de Franco, de la Guerra Civil a la Guerra Fría (1936-1968), Doctoral dissertation, Universidad de Valladolid, 2010.

2 Müller Lena J., Sound und Sexismus. Geschlecht im Klang populärer Musik. Eine feministisch-musiktheoretische Annäherung, Hamburg, Marta Press UG, 2018. Later published as Müller Lena, Reyes Manu, Hearing Sexism. Gender in the Sound of Popular Music. A Feminist Approach, Bielefeld, [transcript] Popular Music, 2022.

3 Una de las premisas de este libro es que, a lo largo del período estudiado, el jazz estuvo particularmente unido a las transformaciones originadas o consolidadas por la modernidad” (p. 19). All English translations are our own.

4 Hall Stuart, 1996. “Introduction”, in Stuart Hall, David Held, Don Hubert and Kenneth Thompson (eds.), Modernity: An Introduction to Modern Society. Malden, MA: The Open University, p. 3-18.

5 Mouzelis, Nicos, 1999. “Modernity: A Non-European Conceptualization”, The British Journal of Sociology, 50(1), p. 141-159.

6 “[...] como la suma de diversos procesos: el establecimiento de una economía capitalista; la consolidación de una sociedad productiva y dinámica; el dominio de las formas seculares de autoridad y poder político, dentro de las complejas estructuras del Estado-nación; y la progresiva difusión de una cultura materialista, individualista, racionalista y globalizada (Hall, 1996; Mouzelis, 1999)” (p. 20).

7 “[...] la primera es que en español se refiere a una entidad geográfica mucho más amplia que un país;” (p. 20).

8 “[...] de pluralizar los focos de referencia del jazz en España, incorporando París, Berlín o Londres;” (Ibid.).

9 “[...] ‘americanización’ puede ocultar el carácter bidireccional, aunque asimétrico, de las transferencias culturales.” (p. 19).

10 El jazz desempeñó un importante papel en la diplomacia cultural estadounidense en la España de los cincuenta y, a su vez la propaganda norteamericana facilitó la visibilidad del género y el acceso a conciertos y grabaciones.(p. 224).

11 Straka Manfred, “Cool Jazz in Europe”, in Luca Cerchiari, Laurent Cugny and Franz Kershbaumer (eds.), Eurojazzland: Jazz and European Sources, Dynamics, and Contexts, Boston, Northeastern University Press, 2012, p. 218.

12 Fox Charles, Jazz in Perspective, London, British Broadcasting Corporation, 1969, p. 79.

13 Johnson Bruce (ed.), Jazz and Totalitarianism, London, Routledge, 2017; Martinelli Francesco, The History of European Jazz. The Music, Musicians and Audience in Context, Sheffield, Equinox Publishing, 2018.

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Référence électronique

Pedro Cravinho, « Iván Iglesias, La modernidad elusiva: jazz, baile y política en la Guerra Civil española y el franquismo (1936-1968) »Transposition [En ligne], 11 | 2023, mis en ligne le 07 novembre 2023, consulté le 19 juin 2024. URL : http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/transposition/8486 ; DOI : https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.4000/transposition.8486

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Auteur

Pedro Cravinho

Dr. Pedro Cravinho is a researcher and educator with a background as a professional musician, a BMus in Musicology and a PhD in Ethnomusicology. He is a Senior Research Fellow at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC), the Keeper of the Archives at the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, Birmingham City University (BCU), UK, and a member of CITCEM – Transdisciplinary Research Center «Culture, Space and Memory» at the University of Porto, Portugal. Dr Cravinho co-leads the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research Jazz Studies Cluster and teaches at the RBC. His research interests lie, broadly, in the social, political and cultural history of the jazz diaspora, and its representation in the media and the public sphere in general. He is a co-founder and board member of the Portuguese Jazz Network (PT), a Trustee for the National Jazz Archive, the Scottish Jazz Archive and Archives West Midlands, UK, and a board member of the Duke Ellington Society, UK. Dr Cravinho is a co-founder of the Documenting Jazz international conferences and a co-investigator in the AHRC/NEH project ‘New Directions in Digital Jazz Studies’. He is a member of the editorial board of the jazz research journal jazz-hitz (Musikene, Spain), and his publications include key research about the history of jazz in Portugal, including Encounters with Jazz on Television in Cold War Era Portugal, 1954–1974 (Routledge, 2022).

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