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1950s

Transatlantic Exchange

The 1950s was the last decade in which jazz remained a youth culture. It produced a galaxy of British jazz stars and groups, including Ronnie Scott’s nine-piece group, Humphrey Lyttelton and his band, and the ‘Jazz Couriers’. Ronnie Scott opened his Jazz Club in London’s Gerrard Street in 1959, moving to Frith Street in 1967, while other clubs flourished across London and the UK. In 1956 the government’s ban on American musicians performing in the UK was finally lifted after 21 years. Stan Kenton and Louis Armstrong played in London that year, and others to follow included Lionel Hampton and Sidney Bechet. Traditional jazz band leader Chris Barber sowed the seeds of what would become a major musical revolution in the 1960s by popularising Skiffle and touring with blues and gospel artists, including Muddy Waters and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

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