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Gérard Terronès: Introduction

Pierre Crépon

The articles linked below compile data on the programming of five clubs operated by Gérard Terronès in Paris between 1965 and 1985. During a lifelong professional involvement in jazz, Terronès was many things: a record producer (best-known for his Futura and Marge labels), touring agent, festival organizer, record shop operator, and writer, but he remained, first and foremost, a man of club music.

His first venture was the Blues Jazz Museum, a small cellar under a neighborhood bar of the medieval Île St-Louis opened in 1965, and his last “official” club, 1981–1982’s Jazz Unité, was a large scale operation on two levels inside a massive mall of Paris’s business district. After his departure from Jazz Unité, Terronès refocused his activity on other areas of the jazz business, but a coda concluding this period in his life is to be found at the Trou Noir, a bar operated by anarchist militants where he programmed jazz nights in 1984–1985.

The acoustical phenomenon known as jazz has historically occurred largely more in clubs than in concert halls, but substantial data documenting this part of the music’s history has remained elusive. Unlike the punctual concert, an out-of-the-ordinary event where special presentations are often made, in settings calling for advertisement and reviews, club work is more difficult to document in a truly conclusive manner.

The definitive documentation of a club’s life is probably to be found in its books, internal archives most often unavailable to researchers. In their absence, the small print, often typo-ridden “cabarets” sections of jazz magazines and the generalist press offer a viable alternative. Those sources document events scheduled to happen in the immediate future, in a business prone to last-minute changes and cancellations. After-the-fact sources can be found in the live review columns of jazz magazines, but only a very small percentage of club music finds its way there.

Therefore, this article does not claim to present a definitive reconstruction of Terronès’s club programming. We have opted to present first a complete, cross-checked list of the artists announced at the clubs in France’s two main jazz publications, Jazz Hot and Jazz Magazine, and, when material exists, bibliographies of sessions reviewed in the same outlets.

Terronès’s ventures were short-lived, lasting an average of three years, but taken together, they span two decades of evolution of the club business. The data reflects profound mutations at play, moving from a week-based model of engagements pairing local rhythm sections with guest soloists to the nightly concert model which is the norm today.

Nightly club work differs widely in scale from record production, and a reading of the listings offers the most complete picture of Terronès’s wide-ranging interests across the jazz spectrum, a picture quite different from the unidimensional free jazz advocate he was often portrayed as. Terronès often operated at the margins of the French scene, and many names featured here are representative of an underground that recorded history does not fully reflect.

Researchers working on specific musicians will hopefully find useful data, presented in a more comprehensible manner than individual gig listings taken out of context.

Bibliography

The primary sources consulted were every issue of Jazz Hot and Jazz Magazine covering the clubs’ lifespans (1965–1985).

References

[1] Pierre Crépon, “Once Upon a Time in Paris,” The Wire 412 (June 2018): 36–41.

Author Information: 
Pierre Crépon is an independent researcher based in France. He has written for The Wire, New York City Jazz Record, Point of Departure, and Improjazz, among others. His research deals with the history of avant-garde jazz, with a particular focus on the American and French scenes of the sixties and seventies.

Abstract: 
This is a brief introduction to five listings that cover performance venues in Paris booked by Gérard Terronès as announced in Jazz Hot and Jazz Magazine. Bibliographies of reviews/coverage in the two publications are also included, when applicable.

Keywords:
Gérard Terronès, Paris, France, nightclubs, jazz

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