International Society for Jazz Research

Cubana Be Cubana Bop

Der Jazz und die lateinamerikanische Musik

In contrast to the established jazz research, the paper on hand proceeds from the proposition that jazz is not a magnitude satisfied by itself, but part of a larger continuum in American music. This continuum again is part of a global musical continuum. The naming of political borders serves just for orientation, for the question where the relevant musical phenomena be localized. The theme-referred laying-down of border lines occurs because of these phenomena, irrespective of any state territory situating. It is about a method which is called arealistic both in linguistics and culture research. This primarily horizontal view on the musical landscape causes a shifting of historical interrogatives, as thereby centres of gravitation in musical development become visible, which otherwise remain invisible for someone just glancing onto the recent political units.

Besides, a knowledge of the global and mainly Oriental and Indian musical culture protects you from the widely predominant tendency to define and judge jazz just after its differences to any modern western art music, whatever the judgement may be – positive or negative. The stereotypes defining jazz, which are listed up in any pertinent publication and are also repeatedly mentioned here, thereby keep losing their uniqueness and keep proving self-evident entries in global musical inventory. They have just been eliminated from the modern western art music, and even that did not happen before the second half of the 18th century. What's more, the Oriental musical theory provides viewing models for rhythm analysis, which widely top the relevant apparatus of western musical theory and are mainly useful for the treatment of Gestaltrhythmik expressed in formulas. This Gestaltrhythmik plays a dominant role in Caribbean music and in the prototypes of jazz (Ragtime).

The hereby created theme "Jazz and Latin-American Music" is divided into two temporally and factually separated complexes. The older one of the two refers to the preforms and early forms of jazz, which in relevant terminology are entried as Ragtime, New Orleans Jazz and Dixieland. The younger complex is formed as an adaption of Latin-American models in the early time of modern jazz, which under the names of Afro-Cuban Jazz and Bossa Nova/Jazz Samba went down in history. The periods in between, that is the late twenties and the era of Swing, which overlaps with Be Bop for a considerably long time, are marked by a distinguished distance against all "Latin". With regard to the recording volume of these periods the quite rare arrangements of Latin-American melodies must be seen as a concession to the models of international dance music; mainly the "white" Swing orchestras communicated with them. There were no effects on the stylistic substance in jazz. Black jazz musicians flirting with Africa since the late forties were included into this image, because it was the consequence of the Afro-Cuban mode, although it quicky separated from it and became an accompaniment of the Emancipation and Civil Rights Movement.

The preforms and the early forms in jazz with regard to their compositional structure (division into strains) and to the dominance of the Cinquillo and related rhythmical formulas presented such extended common features with other musical genres of the Antilles so that they have to be comprised to a common field, in spite of the dominating political situation. The oldest evidence for the Cinquillo also dates back to the year 1813 and is described in a Cuban Danza; this shows that any speculations about its geneses on today's US-American soil are unfounded. The Cuban musical history and also US-American documents prove absolutely clearly that the musical complex – named Danza and Danzon in the Hispanophone and Ragtime in the Anglophone area – stems historically from the Contredanse and one of its special forms, the Quadrille. Elements of African origin cannot be found, neither here nor there, for the Cinquillo and all other variants of the form number 8 do not belong to the characteristic rhythm inventory of the old and from Western musical traditions uninfluenced Black Africa.

Another topic is the ensemble style of the New Orleans Jazz. To understand it only from the viewpoint of jazz style – with an unrealistic check-up of the musical inventory – does not prove tenable. In the Gospel songs of the United States and the Bahamas there are quite a lot of multi-parted musical forms, which have to be added to it from the structural point of view. Besides, this type of polyphony is not restricted to the USA and the Bahamas. In the urban perfectioned forms of the Biguine, which have their origin on the Frankophone islands of the Little Antilles, it marks the ensemble play in a way not similar to the New Orleans Jazz, but entirely analogous. The biographies of the most eminent representatives of this music, however, force you to exclude any direct influence from New Orleans. The next thought, to make the joint French cultural background responsible for this, is made uncertain by the fact that the Frankophone Haiti does not participate in this polyphony. To further confuse the issue, this polyphony can also be found in the from Europe onto Madagaskar imported brass music – again a former French colony. In this case too you could argue that there are no traces of the role polyphony to be found in the other French ex-colonies of Africa, neither in Southeast Asia. In the paper on hand this complex problem can just be shown up, there is however definitely no solution in sight.

The second phase of intensive Latin-America relations in jazz started in the late 1940s. In the meantime those elements were left out that were connecting it in its early period with the Latin south. Thus Swing came into being and gained the greatest affinity with the audience that ever occurred in its history. From this Be Bop began developing, however only partly can musical reasons be made responsible for that process. Be Bop was the first jazz style behaving explicitly Avantgardistic and from the very beginning created a tense relationship with the audience. The motivating force was an awakening consciousness of the Blacks about their wretched social and cultural conditions, which kept directing all efforts among the most active young musicians. Already quite early white musicians turned up in the background of Be Bop, but this does not deny the "black" drive of its founders.

Be Bop is, among other things, from the musical viewpoint also characterized by a so-far unknown consequent abolishing of folklore and entertaining elements. In view of this aspect the tendency towards any entertainment music from Cuba, that is, even in its most elaborated forms, full of folkloristic elements introduced by Dizzy Gillespie in 1947, is very hard to understand. If the wish behind this driving force for that wave of fusions, to win the Cuban polyrhythmic for the jazz, as the towards jazz apology tending jazz history reports, then a musical deficit has to be registered from the very first recordings, a deficit that till the end of that enterprise has never been repaired: authentic Cuban polyrhythmic comprises all musicians, melodists as well as rhythmists. Dizzy Gillespie and his circle, however, believed – and likewise soon a number of imitators – that it is sufficient to replace the rhythm section by a Cuban (or Portorican) percussion group or at least to enlarge it; the melodic section was to act on and above all the soloists – as complies with their understanding of jazz. The pretty short occurence of the Bossa Nova and of another Latino fashion hurrying by like a shooting star, could ironically be described as an "error in jazz history". The attempt of the guitarist Charly Byrd, quite interesting as it was, to take advantage of the current trend in 1960 in Brazil for the jazz, was unexpectedly successful and the producers tried hard to prolonge it. After two years (1962/63) the "new wave" had, however, disappeared from the musical screen, it fell asleep without leaving noticable traces in the style inventory of jazz. The Afro cult of black musicians became a niche of lasting importance in jazz stylistic. It began in the lap of Afro-Cuban jazz, reached its first climaxes in the 1950s, was taken up again in Free Jazz and since then belongs to the standard inventory of groups active in emancipation movement.