There are two passions in the south west of France. One is rugby, and the other jazz.
The first weekend in July, is a time to revel in the latter, as Monségur holds its 26th year of ‘Les 24 heures du swing’ (24 hours of swing). Jazz in all its genres is played in concerts, and on the streets for all to enjoy..
Ragtime barflys play rhythmic tunes
till funky feet tap
and beating hearts Jazz.
Happiness plays as wind
through golden labrosones,
who in accord, one and another,
adds his own harmonic notes,
an air melodic, breezy and gay.
How it all started
Back in 1982, a group of friends declared to each other that their home town was a bit dull. So with enthusiasm they formed an association which aimed to revitalize Monségur. Their first project was to reopen the Odeon cinema. After raising funds, attracting members and volunteers, the cinema was refurbished, and opened to play multilingual films. *
Then they turned their attention to music. It happened that they were serious jazz lovers, and they thought why not organise a jazz festival? And so it was that in July 1990 the first ‘Les 24 heures du Swing’ was manifested. Year by year the festival grew, and attracted the presence of great jazz musicians, such as Ike Turner, Liz McCabe, Didier Lockwood, and this year Maceo Parker.
Still wanting more, they encouraged local schools, and colleges to build jazz into their curriculums. In 2007, Eleanor Provence College of Monségur began to offer jazz workshops, and courses to its young students.Today it is recognised nationally as a College of Jazz, teaching locals, and boarders who long to learn the art in all its forms, its instruments, voice and theatre. These same students participate each year in the festival alongside the great.
Surely, our group of friends, must be happy to know that Jazz has played its magic into the life song of les Monsegurais. *
Today, an association of shopkeepers volunteer their time at the cinema in order to keep costs low, and continue a culture of film appreciation.