Better Days Will Come Again: The Life of Arthur Briggs, Jazz Genius of Harlem, Paris, and a Nazi Prison Camp

Chicago Review. Jan. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780914090106. pap. $27.99. MUSIC
In this biography of “the Louis Armstrong of Paris,” Atria (Traveling Soul) restores this jazz pioneer to his rightful place in history. Born in Grenada in 1899, Briggs left home for New York during the early days of the Harlem Renaissance. He joined the Harlem Hellfighters, the regimental band of the famed 369th Infantry founded by James Reese Europe, then Will Marion Cook’s Southern Syncopated Orchestra, where he met fellow trumpet player Sidney Bechet. After a decade working in Europe and the United States, Briggs, like many black artists of the time, settled in Europe. Between the world wars, jazz flourished in Europe, and Briggs was there at the forefront, along with Django Reinhardt, Josephine Baker, Coleman Hawkins, Ada “Bricktop” Smith, and Noble Sissle. Refusing to leave his adopted home before Paris fell to the Nazis in 1940, he was arrested and sent to a prison camp, and the account of his time there is an unforgettable story of survival.
VERDICT This carefully crafted biography bears witness to the power of music and the human spirit and will inform and inspire music fans everywhere.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing