Harlem à Limoges: An Article in Syncopated Times

Check out my article in the March 2019 edition of Syncopated Times. I write about the Hot Club of Limoges, the creation and passion of Jean-Marie Masse and his wife Paulette, focusing on three American musicians who became associated with the HCL and friends with the Masse family.

  • Trumpeter Bill Coleman (1904-1981) from Kansas lived in France after WWII.
  • Trumpeter Buck Clayton (1911-1991), also from Kansas, moved as a young man to Los Angeles, then worked in Shanghai in the 1930s! After the War he worked in Europe, including Limoges. When I came to New York in the 1980s, Buck Clayton was here, teaching and playing.
  • Willie “The Lion” Smith (1897-1973) was decorated as an American soldier in France in the First War. He returned after the Second to play solo piano in Limoges.

Coleman led the way to Europe, Clayton had longevity and adaptability, and I love Smith for a bunch of reasons, personal and musical. He grew up in Newark. He played the piano, he’s an inventor of Harlem stride. Fats Waller was a protégé.

In the book Harlem à Limoges, the story is told that The Lion was afraid to fly, so his wife went out and bought the tickets for their 1950 trip to Limoges. He has a big personality that leaps off the page.
My article will be online in late February. Soon! There are thousands of clippings, recordings, posters and photos in the Masse collection, now the property of the city of Limoges. And you can see the book Harlem à Limoges on amazon.fr here.