Jazz and the Music of RADIO

Music and Mind Control Fill the Air

While the mind control that permeates the airwaves of RADIO’s Paris may be a fantasy, the music is just fantastic and very much real. This playlist is almost entirely filled with music that that rang through the streets of 1928’s Paris. There are a few songs that while a bit anachronistic, still inspired the world I created. I recommend listening with shuffle turned on. Enjoy!

Jazz in Paris

The story of jazz in Paris is the story of racism and prohibition in the United States. Jazz first took hold in Paris during and after WWI as members of segregated US military forces including the legendary Haarlem Hellfighters, were heartily welcomed by the war-weary french, a reception they could never find back in the states. These servicemen brought more than freedom for the french, they brought jazz. The most important figure in the earliest days of Parisian jazz was American military jazz band leader, James Reese Europe, whose band played in the streets of Paris, introducing the music to everyone.

Paris brought a level of freedom to these servicemen as well. While any claim that Paris was free of racisim in the 1920’s or today is absurd, the particular brand of racism was very different from what African Americans faced back home. Many musicians decided to stay rather than return to the harsher realities of the United States and the roots they put down in Paris were also the roots of jazz in the city. This created a growing ecosystem for more American jazz musicians to join.

Prohibition also played a major role in driving musicians to Europe and Paris. Live music and drinking establishments go hand in hand. With the prohibition of alcohol, many musicians found them selves working either illegal bootlegging jobs to make ends meet or working in illegal speakeasies in order to continue working as musicians. In Paris, where drinks poured freely and affordably, and jazz was picking up steam as a major musical force, it only made sense to make the trip across the Atlantic.

Del, the Guitar, and the 1920s

Del Chambers, who finds himself sharing his opium-addicted body with a god in RADIO, had one passion in life, the guitar. His role as a guitar player in a 1920s jazz band was a fairly new occurrence. In early jazz, the banjo was the stringed king of the rhythm section until the 1920s saw an innovation in guitar design and popularity. Luthiers, most notably Lloyd Loar at Gibson, were creating arched topped guitars which were louder and more projecting than their smaller, flat-topped counterparts. Because of this, guitar spent the decade climbing to prominence in the jazz world. However, it was still strictly a rhythm instrument. In his quest to expand what the guitar can do, Del took inspiration from blues musicians such as Lonnie Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson. Then, in the mid 1920’s, one jazz guitarist’s style was changing how the guitar could be used in a band setting. These innovations sent he and his instrument on a meteoric rise to popularity. This was Del’s idol, the first true jazz guitar solo artist, Eddy Lang.

Eddie Lang

Eddie Lang was born Salvatore Massaro in Philadelphia in 1902. He first brought the guitar to prominence in the jazz world as both a rhythm instrument in the early 1920’s but solidified his claim as the father of jazz guitar through his virtuosic solo playing.
When people think of the original jazz guitar greats, they think of Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. While these two are the most popular early jazz guitarists, Christian was only a child and Reinhardt, an up and coming musician while Eddie Lang was in his prime.
To see his revolutionary skills on display, check out songs like Wild Cat, April Kisses, Eddie’s Twister, and more in the playlist above.
Sadly, Eddie Lang died during a routine tonsillectomy in 1933 at the age of thirty.