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Clarke Peters uncovers the stories of black music in Europe, from the Jazz Age to the 1950s.

Drawing on rare archive recordings, Clarke Peters' new three-part series explores the hidden history of black music across Europe, from the late 1920s through the war years and beyond.

Black music in Europe doesn’t begin with the arrival of the Empire Windrush at Tilbury. There is a long, rich history preserved on shellac discs that shows how diverse sounds enthralled the continent long before 1948.

Throughout the series, we hear from a huge array of different performers - including classical composers, jazz stars, calypso legends and more - as well as commentators and historians, to get to the heart of early black music in Europe.

Episode 2 - 1939-45
Clarke looks at the music of black Europe at the time of the Second World War with recordings of Nazi propaganda jazz, underground bands in Hitler’s Germany, black American trumpet stars in occupied Paris, and Caribbean swing bands playing through the Blitz in London. He also examines the work of Nigerian composer Fela Sowande and plays extracts of his wartime broadcast for the BBC.

Presented by Clarke Peters
Produced by Tom Woolfenden
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Available now

28 minutes

Music Played

  • Ken "Snakehips" Johnson and His Orchestra

    Snakeships Swing

    • Snakeships Swing.
    • JAZZCD-049.
  • Quintette du Hot Club de France

    Honeysuckle Rose

    • Honeysuckle Rose.
    • Living Era.
    • CDAJA 5151.
  • Django Reinhardt


    • Nuages.
    • London.
    • 820-5912.
  • Harry Cooper et son orchestre

    Blues 43

    • Blues 43.
    • Swing.
    • SW. 155.
  • Ken "Snakehips" Johnson and His Orchestra

    Snakeships Swing

    • JAZZCD-049.
  • Ken "Snakehips" Johnson and His Orchestra

    Give me my Ranch

    • Give me my Ranch.
    • TSCD-781.
  • Ken "Snakehips" Johnson and His Orchestra

    It Was A Lover and His Lass

    • His Master's Voice.
    • BD 5592.
  • Adalaide Hall

    'Tain't What You Do (It's the Way that You Do It)

    • Decca.
    • RFL 3.
  • Vancouver Orchestra

    Joyful Day: Allegro giocoso

    • Columbia Masterworks.
    • M 33433.
  • Fęlá Şowándé

    Akinla Allegro Non Tropo

    • Columbia Masterworks.
    • M 33433.
  • Charlie & His Orchestra

    You Started Something

    • Discophilia ‎.
    • DIS 13/UT-C-2.
  • Charlie & His Orchestra

    Let's Go Bombin' (United Nations Air Men)

    • Bob's Music.
    • Bob-CD 28.
  • Charlie & His Orchestra

    You're Driving Me Crazy

  • Count Basie

    Jumpin At The Woodside

    • Proper Box.
    • P1758.
  • West African Rhythm Brothers

    Ero Ya Kewawo

    • Melodisc.
    • 1322.
  • Sidney Bechet

    When The Saints Go Marching In

    • Climax Records.
    • 563.