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Pet Sins January 2010

Jazz meets the musical traditions of Latin America

Since its birth from the blues in the early 20th century, jazz has branched out from its roots in the black communities of the southern United States.1 In addition to being adopted by white musicians (who had more access to performing opportunities than black musicians during the era of segretation), jazz also crossed international boundaries in the mid-20th century to give rise to Afro-Cuban jazz and Brazilian jazz.2

The Latin American influence on jazz went both ways - Latin American musicians absorbed US jazz influences, and in turn, US jazz musicians involved themselves with Latin jazz. In the 1940s and 50s, black American musicians such as Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Taylor incorporated Cuban and Puerto Rican influences into their work.3

Duke Ellington collaborated with valve trombonist Juan Tizol in "Caravan", which brought Afro-Cuban and American styles together.4 Gillespie performed with the Cuban musician Arturo Sandoval, who was already influenced by African American jazz legends prior to his meeting with Gillespie.5 Gillespie also collaborated with the Cuban-born jazz musician Machito, founder of the Afro-Cubans, one of the first bands to combine Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz.6 Another Gillespie collaborator was Cuban-born Chano Pozo, a major influence in the founding of Latin jazz. They played together in a big band, and also cowrote two songs.7 Another Afro-Cuban jazz pioneer was Mario Bauza, who collaborated with Charlie Parker, Machito, and Gillespie.8

The artistes mentioned above are by no means the only seminal influences in the Afro-Cuban jazz movement.

Brazilian musical styles also came to have an influence on jazz, both within and without the United States. The Brazilian jazz study guide on legendsofjazz.com states:

One of the most exciting and unique mergers in music was that between Brazilian and Jazz. The roots of traditional African music were present in both the samba carnaval and jazz styles. Those roots helped to bring the styles together, thus creating Brazilian jazz as we know it today.

Brazilian bossa nova creator Luís Bonfá recorded with African American jazz artistes Quincy Jones and George Benson.9 The songs of another bossa nova creator Antonio Carlos Jobim were featured on Ella Fitzgerald's Ella Abraça Jobim (1981). 10 The third creator of bossa nova, João Gilberto, who combined traditional Brazilian samba with swing jazz influences, worked in the U.S. during the 60s and 70s, winning Grammy awards for his music.11

  1. Wikipedia entry on jazz
  2. Wikipedia entry on jazz
    History of jazz on scholastic.com
  3. Wikipedia entry on jazz
    History of jazz on scholastic.com
  4. Duke Ellington's Caravan on jazz.com
  5. Arturo Sandoval on wikipedia
  6. Machito on wikipedia
  7. Chano Pozo on wikipedia
  8. The history of tropical music (tropicalcaribbeanjazz.com)
  9. Luís Bonfá on legendsofjazz.net
  10. Antonio Carlos Jobim on wikipedia
  11. Joao Gilberto on allboutjazz.com