2013-02-28

Benny Carter and the QHCF in Barcelona (29jan36, 31jan36 & 2feb36) - new info

The book Django Reinhardt. Un Gitano En París (Editorial Milenio, 2012) by Juan P. Jiménez and Emilie Durand provides additional information on the concerts by Benny Carter and the QHCF in January 1936 in Barcelona, and authoritatively clarifies some obscure points. Apart from Charles Delaunay's biography of Django Reinhardt (published by Ashley Marks Publishing Company, 1988) and contemporary periodicals (La Vanguardia, La Publicidad, L'Instant, Jazz Magazine Hot Club de Barcelona), their source is Hot Club of Barcelona senior member Alfredo Papo. He double-checked the facts and contributed with first-hand documents, such as the original contract intermediated by Audiffred & Maronani agency and signed on January 14 by Pierre Nourry, secretary of the Hot Club of France and QHCF agent, and Mr. Suris, treasurer of the Hot Club of Barcelona.



Now it is confirmed that there were three concerts, all of them in Barcelona: the first two were arranged by the Hot Club of Barcelona (January 29 at the Cinema Coliseum and January 31 at the Palau de la Música Catalana) whereas the additional extra concert at the Olympia theater on February 2 was promoted by an outsider of dubious reputation -and that's the reason why Grappelli refused to play and Jaume Vila had to sit in-.

As we have previously documented (see posts from 16Apr09, 18Apr09 and 16Feb10), except for the ultraconservative and nearly racist comments from La Veu de Catalunya, the first two concerts were a resounding success, even though pianist Garnet Clark, billed as guest star -and misspelled on advertisements as "Garney Clark"-, didn't show up in Barcelona. 

On the other hand, the Olympia theater concert was a box-office flop and, according to Jiménez & Durand, it was at this concert where the promoter ran away with the money, and not at the first two (Coliseum and Palau), as stated in previous biographies of Django Reinhardt, including Dregni's. The contract between Nourry of the Hot Club of France and Suris of the Hot Club of Barcelona stipulated that the QHCF would receive 3,000 francs before leaving Paris and the remaining 4,000 after the gigs. According to Papo, the musicians were paid and hence the paragraph "but now the balance of 4,000 francs plus their travel expenses were gone. Django, Carter, and the bandmates pooled the money in their pockets to afford train tickets home, with one lone Catalonian sausage to slice up between them to quell their stomachs on the long journey to Paris", which has been perpetuated through subsequent "copy-and-paste" biographies, is half legend, half whopper.

Thank God the plain truth has been revealed!


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