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Jazz in Claude Delcloo’s Actuel: An Annotated Bibliography

Pierre Crépon


Drummer Claude Delcloo published the first issue of Actuel in October 1968, featuring Pharoah Sanders on the cover. At first heavily focused on avant-garde jazz, the French magazine evolved over the course of a two-year, thirteen-issue run toward wider coverage of various “underground,” “countercultural,” and “pop” topics. Covers featured Jacques Coursil, Don Cherry, Andrew Cyrille, and then Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and Pete Brown. The takeover of the magazine by Jean-François Bizot in October 1970, accompanied by a reset of issue numbering, completed the transformation.

Confusion tends to surround Delcloo’s Actuel. A retrospective book on the far more famous Bizot incarnation could still in 2001 afford to avoid any mention of the first version, [1] and amalgamation of the BYG label with its Actuel series — for which Delcloo did executive production work — remains very common. The festival that paired rock and free jazz groups in Amougies, Belgium in October 1969 is remembered as the “Amougies Festival,” not as “Festival Actuel,” its official designation, [2] and no confirmed date for Delcloo’s death circulates.

Actuel initially tried to position itself as a magazine written by musicians themselves and as the only publication capable of adequately covering the latest developments in avant-garde jazz. The two established French jazz publications of the era, Jazz Hot (launched 1935) and Jazz Magazine (launched 1954), were cast — quite unfairly — as specialized in older styles. (3: 25) “Musician articles” are therefore indicated as such in brackets. They are generally similar in content to what is found in interviews, information on background and current work, and could often actually be interviews with the questions edited out. The mastheads of issues 2–6 and 8–9 include lists of correspondents, among them musicians Jacques Coursil (New York), Muhal Richard Abrams (Chicago), Joachim Kühn (Hamburg), Clifford Thornton (New York), and Oliver Johnson (San Francisco). The content of news sections has been detailed in brackets, as these sometimes constitute interesting primary sources.

From the start, Actuel featured numerous photographs. Photographers who contributed to the magazine include Philippe Gras, Thierry Trombert, Horace, Jacques Bisceglia, and Guy Le Querrec. The magazine’s first six issues present themselves in a format slightly smaller than A4, in black and white. Issue 7, a transition toward a new version of the magazine with a widened coverage (7: 1B), was of a special format: a recto verso A1 sheet folded to A4, with color. It contains a number of printing errors, indicated in the entries’ annotations. To accommodate the special format and layout of issue 7, each A2 pane is divided in four lettered sections in this bibliography. The remaining issues, 8 through 13, are of a larger format, with color. In addition to Delcloo as “editorial director,” Denys Lémery is listed as editor-in-chief, joined in that position by André Laude in issue 12.

The article-by-article listing below covers the complete jazz content of Actuel issues listing Delcloo as “editorial director.” Lists of non-jazz topics covered in each issue are also provided. This bibliography follows the format used by Michael Fitzgerald in his work on Down Beat, Change, and other jazz periodicals. [3] Some issues are undated, estimated dates are provided based on their content. Page numbers have been attributed to unpaginated issues, with covers referred to as page 1. Editorial brackets are used to provided standardized information for record and concert reviews. Entries are followed by brackets containing brief descriptive annotations that, it is hoped, will provide a sense of Actuel’s content and help researchers outside of France locate information relevant to their work.

Actuel 1 (October 1968)

Non-jazz content: Living Theatre, poem.

Actuel 2 (November 1968)

Non-jazz content: Living Theatre, Thomas Drayton.

Actuel 3 (January/February 1969)

Non-jazz content: Wolinski play.

Actuel 4 (March 1969)

Non-jazz content: Eastern music, Soft Machine, Jerzy Grotowski.

Actuel 5 (April 1969)

Non-jazz content: Traditional Indian dancing, British blues, Led Zeppelin, We Three, pop record reviews, contemporary theatre.

Actuel 6 (May 1969)

Non-jazz content: Indian music, L’Assemblée, MC5, Frank Zappa poster, pop record reviews.

Actuel 7 (ca. July 1969)

Non-jazz content: Dr. John, pop records selection, pop contest.

Actuel 8 (November 1969)

Non-jazz content: contemporary classical record reviews, Alan Jack Civilization, John Mayall interview, Gilbert Amy interview, Freedom interview, contemporary classical, radical theatre, pop music, Asger Jorn, Musica Elettronica Viva, Philippe Sollers interview, Ten Years After.

Actuel 9 (ca. December 1969)

Non-jazz content: Rolling Stones, Pierre Henry interview, Rodolfo Krasno, Barbet Schroeder interview, Daevid Allen interview, Soft Machine, industrial design, Marlene Dietrich, Journées de musique contemporaine de Paris.

Actuel 10 (ca. March 1970)

Non-jazz content: Claude Chabrol interview, Beatles, contemporary classical, Maurice Béjart, Luchino Visconti, Ravi Shankar, Red Noise, Frank Zappa interview, literature and drugs, book reviews, Braun industrial design, blues record reviews, contemporary classical record reviews, film reviews.

Actuel 11 (May 1970)

Non-jazz content: Jean-Pierre Mocky interview, Led Zeppelin, contemporary theatre, Festival Musique Évolution 70, Jacques Rigaut, Beijing opera, Push Pin Studios, Festival international d’art contemporain de Royan, Frank Zappa interview, Paco Rabanne interview, Open Circus, pop record reviews, contemporary classical record reviews, book reviews, film reviews.

Actuel 12 (ca. June 1970)

Non-jazz content: concert reviews, Francis Picabia, Leonard Cohen, Luc Ferrari interview, Arthur Adamov, Alain Robbe-Grillet interview, Vilayat Khan, Pete Brown, Dominique de Roux, Eric Clapton, Peter Maxwell Davies interview, Luis Buñuel, Slim Harpo, pop record reviews, contemporary classical record reviews, book reviews, film reviews.

Actuel 13 (ca. August 1970)

Non-jazz content: editorial, counterculture, Tuli Kupferberg, pop and politics, Bob Dylan, David Crosby, Byrds, Jefferson Airplane interview, Luca Ronconi interview, Amsterdam, Black Panther Party, Elaine Brown interview, Eldridge Cleaver, Michael Wadleigh interview, Woodstock Festival, communal living, Jim Haynes interview, record reviews, book reviews, collage, film reviews.

Thanks to Olivier Ledure, Thierry Trombert, and Guy Schoukroun.



[1] Jean François Bizot, Underground: L’Histoire (Paris: Actuel/Denoël, 2001).

[2] For information on the festival through its filmic documentation, see Pierre Crépon, “Seeing Amougies: Music Power and European Music Revolution,” Point of Departure 69 (December 2019), Accessed December 17, 2019.

[3] Michael Fitzgerald, “Down Beat under Dan Morgenstern: A Bibliography,” Current Research in Jazz 4 (2012); and Michael Fitzgerald, “A bibliography of Change magazine,” Current Research in Jazz 1 (2009) Accessed December 17, 2019.

[4] Translation of Bill Quinn, “The AACM: A Promise.” Down Beat Music ’68 Yearbook): 46–50.

[5] Poor translation renders the text nearly incomprehensible.

[6] Translation of Charles Moore, “Editorial: Black Music: The New Wave,” Change 1 (Fall/Winter 1965): vi.

[7] Translation of John Sinclair, “Song Of Praise,” Change 1 (Fall/Winter 1965): 0.

[8] Translation of Saul Gottlieb, “They Think You’re an Airplane and You’re Really a Bird,” Evergreen Review, December 1967, 50–53, 96–97.

[9] For information on the festival’s schedule, see Pierre Crépon, “Free Jazz in Amougies: Research on the Schedule of the Festival Actuel, October 24–28, 1969,” Discogs, October 2019, Accessed December 17, 2019.

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.

A bibliography of the French magazine Actuel during the period (1968–1970) in which Claude Delcloo served as editorial director.

Actuel, Claude Delcloo, bibliography, jazz

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