|Malika Zarra, photograph by Becca Meek|
in a world that is more international is to be able to identify where things are coming
from and not be superficial.—Malika Zarra to the author, 2013
There is, of course, plenty of precedent in the history of jazz for much of the music we hear today that embraces and creatively transforms musical genres and styles from across the globe. New Orleans pianist Jelly Roll Morton spoke of adding a “Spanish tinge,” actually a tango (also known as “habanera”) rhythm, to his playing “to get the right seasoning . . . for jazz.” And going back as far as 1917, Puerto Rican and Cuban musicians played alongside African-American musicians and helped to transform what was “New Orleans music” into new, but still danceable hybrids. In the mid-1940s, the great jazz trumpet player and bandleader Dizzy Gillespie and conga virtuoso and composer Chano Pozo introduced Cuban rhythms into the context of the American big band and recorded some of the very first examples of what we now call Afro-Cuban or Latin jazz. Many American jazz musicians and bands in the late 1960s and early 1970s drew heavily on the music of Brazil, India, and Morocco, to name just three sources for inspiration, while assimilating contemporary psychedelic rock and funk grooves, effects, and instrumentation.
Many of the musicians interviewed for this book relocated to the U.S. after initially studying music in their home countries, including Anat Cohen and Ayelet Rose Gottlieb (Israel), Eliane Elias (Brazil), Sofia Rei (Argentina), Malika Zarra (Morocco), Patrizia Scascitelli (Italy), and Val Jeanty (Haiti). These women, as well as many women born in the U.S., are creating a repertoire of work that speaks to their own ethnic heritage while embracing the music of many other cultures, cultures that no longer seem so disparate in an age of the Internet and globalization.
Cohen, a bandleader from Israel who plays saxophones and clarinet, an instrument associated with Jewish klezmer music, composes and performs music inspired by Brazilian, Cuban, and Colombian music, Dixieland, French chanson, and contemporary west African grooves. The American-born trum¬pet player Samantha Boshnack, who composes for her B’shnorkestra ensemble, draws from such diverse sources as traditional and contemporary Balkan folk music and Balinese gamelan. Jeanty, a DJ and percussionist who has recorded and performed live with such jazz legends as pianist Geri Allen, uses an array of old and new school electronic gear as well as hand drums to create a highly realized musical hybrid of hip-hop, contemporary electronica, free jazz, and the ritual rhythms of Haitian vodou.
Even with so much precedent, new forms of music continue to emerge in our century, and women musicians of all races, ethnicities, and ages are leading the way in the creation of a truly global and multicultural form of jazz.