Jazz music is one of my favourite style of a music genre and mostly one so called ‘ Afro jazz music. With many years listening to Jazz music and enjoying it, it got me thinking to question much about the origin of afro jazz music rather than being in my own cocoon of assumptions. Instead I decided to do a little bit of research and see if I could come up with something.

Jazz music is said to have originated in the southern states of USA in the early 20th century and overtime many styles of jazz advanced from single piano to a swing band (Decker, T. (2011) Firstly how do I define Afro jazz music? Probably a fusion of Jazz with African styled percussion and rhythms (Ward, G., & Burns, K. (2000). Afro jazz music has some key features or characteristics that are distinct that are identified such as:

  • Displaced swing and swung rhythms
  • A major scale with flattened 3rd, 5th and 7th degrees approach
  • Scat singing
  • Singing to no meaning syllables instead of words 12-bar blues chord pattern Blues scale
  • Piano stabs
  • Walking bass

The link below has one of my favourite Afro jazz artists Jimmy Dludlu who is originally from Mozambique but resides in Cape Town South Africa. His music has a traditional and modern fusion with synths included which takes Afro jazz to another level of it. He does have some combinations of r&b touch in his music too. I would say this link does have a lot of interesting combination of genres in it in the name of Afro jazz. The sound of Jimmy’s Afro jazz has a mixture of Portuguese influence around Angola, traditional South African rhythms and Mozambican Salsa. He also imitated American Jazz artists like George Benson and Wes Montgomery.

The Afro jazz fusion genre combines some traditional with some Caribbean feel with lots of saxophone and brass section with traditional drums combined with modern conga and bongo drums. According to Robin D.G Kelley ‘I he states that the development of Afro jazz music was established during the movement of people from different places, movements, cultures and provided fertile ground for new music’. In other words I would say the more the musician moved from place to place country to country they carried their culture with them and introduced in singing and playing. Hence it got more embraced leading to the creation of it. Maybe I would say too that the style was created to critic the Western version of jazz music and could be a way to express the need for freedom from oppression. That is why probably it then was called Afro jazz, with an African homeland feel.

In conclusion Jazz music originated from the southern parts of the US and birthed different styles of Jazz genres such as Afro Jazz music

Ward, G., & Burns, K. (2000). Jazz : A history of america’s music (1st ed.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Decker, T. (2011). Music makes me : Fred astaire and jazz (Roth family foundation music in america imprint). Berkeley: University of California Press. (2011)
Ake, D., Garrett, C., & Goldmark, D. (Eds.). (2012). Jazz/not jazz : The music and its boundaries (Roth family foundation music in america imprint). Berkeley: University of California Press. (2012)
https://harvardpress.typepad.com/hup_publicity/2012/04/robin-kelley-africa-speaks-america-answers.html

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