African Roots of Jazz

By | April 21, 2012

Jazz pianist Randy Weston
It’s almost taken for granted today that jazz grew out of African music. But when you get down to it, the connections that make up jazz’s African heritage are anything but obvious. This week on the show, we’ll bring in our jazz historian Lewis Porter to talk about ethnomusicologists’s efforts to trace jazz back to African music and what exactly we know and don’t know about jazz’s African heritage. And we’ll find out how American slavery influenced early forms of jazz and the blues, and take a look at how Pan-African politics reshaped the ideological landscape of mid-century jazz. (59:00)

Photo: Jazz pianist Randy Weston first started incorporating African ideas into his music in the 1960s with jazz masterpieces like Uhuru Afrika and Highlife, which paid tribute to the mid-cenutry independence movements of several African nations. The African influence became a central theme of his work after that, and to date, Weston has recorded dozens of jazz albums that pay tribute to jazz’s African roots.


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