This course explores the history of jazz from its roots to the present day, with special attention paid to the ways in which jazz has drawn from and influenced music of the African Diaspora, including Cuba, Brazil, Panama, and Peru. The course begins with an investigation into African and African American musical precursors, including spirituals, work and play songs, minstrel traditions, ragtime and the blues. It continues by exploring the emergence of jazz in New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City, and New York City, as well as the exportation of jazz to locales around the world. Special attention will be paid to jazz artists and practices in Africa, Cuba, Brazil, Panama, and Peru. In addition to a survey of the most important performers and their associated styles and techniques (e.g., swing, bebop, cool, modal, avant-garde, jazz-rock fusion, etc.), this course explores the often provocative role jazz music has played in American and global society, and the diverse perceptions and arguments that have surrounded its production and reception.
Field WorkCountry: Brazil
Day: 1 - Tuesday, 1 November
Orkestra Rumpilezz is a 20-piece big band of percussion and horns from Salvador that combines traditional Brazilian rhythms such as Condomblé and samba with jazz-inspired compositions and improvisations. Since its founding in 2006, Rumpilezz has been enormously influential in furthering Bahian musical heritage and in advocating for greater respect for people of African descent in Brazil. The morning will be spent learning about Afro-Brazilian traditions from the leader of Rumpilezz, maestro Letieres Leite. Following this, students will participate in a hands-on workshop to learn some of the rhythmic intricacies of the claves and toques that inform the music, leading to a combined performance with members of the Orkestra. Afterwards, we will visit Cana Brava Records in Pelourinho and meet its proprietor, Randi, a US citizen whose mission for years has been to “rescue lost samba and choro from oblivion, providing an environment where it can be discovered, explored, and carried away.” Students will learn the ins-and-outs of the recorded music industry in Brazil and the ongoing challenges it faces. The day will culminate with a walking tour of Salvador by Bahian musician Bule Bule, whose songs, involving astute observations about everyday life situations, are examples of the repentista tradition. Learning objectives:
- Introduce the history and African heritage of Brazilian music, including Candomblé and samba, and the possibilities of combining this musical and cultural heritage with the jazz tradition
- Explore the role that cultural and musical institutions, such as Rumpilezz, can play in maintaining, promoting and expanding tradition
- Investigate the challenges, consequences, and complexities involved in mixing local and global musical forms and the possibility that music can affect social change