Arthur Briggs (musician)

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Arthur Briggs (April 9, 1899 – July 15, 1991, Paris) was an American Jazz trumpeter and orchestra leader who performed in Europe.


Briggs was born in St. George's on the Caribbean island of Grenada on April 9, 1899, the youngest of ten children.[1] He played the trumpet and eventually joined the 369th US Infantry Band, but was too young to travel to Europe during the first World War. Briggs finally traveled to Europe in June 1919 while playing with Will Marion Cook and his Southern Syncopated Orchestra. Admired for his technical virtuosity and clear tone, he worked in the United States and Europe for 10 years before eventually settling in Europe in 1931. He set up a band with Freddy Johnson, and worked with artists all over Europe, including Coleman Hawkins and Django Reinhardt.[2]


At the start of World War II Briggs was interned in the SS Polizeihaftlager for political prisoners near Compiègne. Why he was there is not known; he was an American citizen (this was not yet 1941) and not a political prisoner. The British jazz musician Tom Waltham, who was interned at the Camp des Internés Britanniques in Saint-Denis, petitioned the German authorities to have Briggs moved there, and this was granted. There Briggs and Waltham were at the heart of the camp's musical activities. Jazz was forbidden in the camp so the interned jazz musicians, many of African heritage, turned to classical music. A printed program survives of a 1942 Concert Symphonique including works by Albeniz, Granados, de Falla, Mozart, Handel, Franck and Liszt. Tom Waltham directed "Arthur Briggs et son Orchestre" (pp. 93–181 in Ref.[1]). The concerts were a success and were popular with German officers.

After the Liberation of Paris, Briggs organized and led his own bands.[3]

Later life[edit]

In the 1960s, Briggs settled in Chantilly, where he taught music.[3]

Grave of Arthur Briggs, Montmartre Cemetery, Paris.


Actual recordings of Briggs are very rare, but he recorded with both Deutsche Grammophon and Clausophon, extensively throughout the mid-late 1920s.[4]

Briggs was related to tubist Pete Briggs, who recorded with Louis Armstrong.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bergmeier, Horst P. J; Lotz, Rainer E. (Spring 2010). "James Arthur Briggs". Black Music Research Journal. 30 (1): 75–83. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Arthur Briggs Biography". All Music. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Obituary: Arthur Briggs, Trumpeter, 92". The New York Times. July 18, 1991.
  4. ^ "Arthur Briggs' Savoy Syncopators Orchestra". Red Hot Jazz. Retrieved 5 December 2013.