ABSTRACT

The African American music known as jazz generally merits little mention in discussions of the musics of the African diaspora. One could perhaps account for its absence by examining the contexts in which it has been discussed and researched. Those who have written about jazz have typically understood Western concert music—if indeed they understood any music—better than they did jazz (Gennari 1991; Gabbard 1995). Moreover, they have frequently tried to fit jazz into modernist discourses on art and aesthetics (Gioia 1988 furnishes a good example; for a critique, see Johnson 1993). Jazz's relation to other forms of African American music is minimal in their analyses (Starks 1981, 1993), surfacing only in cursory mentions of jazz's seemingly passive "mixture" of European and African elements (Gridley 1997). Indeed, jazz is separated from other African American musics to emphasize its status as art and its expansive "Americanness" at the expense of its ritual functions and seemingly less expansive African-Americanness. Thus, alongside musics associated with santería, candomblé, and vodou, as well as samba, salsa, and konpa, it might be seen as one of the most "European" and least "African" of all African-derived musics in the Americas. 1