Trabajo sobre la difusión del jazz en Países Caribeños, Argentina, Chile y Paraguay

Mi amigo el pianista/compositor/arreglador Carlos Franzetti ( nominado por segundo año consecutivo al Grammy en categoría mejor composición clásica contemporánea; ganador de 2 Latin Grammys, 5 veces nominado al Latin Grammy) me envió un documento (en inglés) con un trabajo de reseña de la situación de la difusión del Jazz en Países Caribeños, Argentina, Chile y Paraguay.  En la página 13 se informa sobre Paraguay, y en la 15 se mencionan algunos nombres destacados en el género, dentro de los cuales figura el mío.  El documento:

Caribbean Currents & Beyond 1.
Caribbean Currents & Beyond:
The Dissemination of Jazz in Caribbean Basin Nations,
Chile, Argentina & Paraguay
Mark H Holston
Jazziz Magazine & Latino Magazine; Guest Lecturer, Berklee College of Music & Flathead
Valley Community College; Invited Scholar, The Smithsonian Institution
Presented at:
Les Circulations Globales Du Jazz / Global Circulations of Jazz
June 27- 28, 2013
musée du quai Branly, Paris
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This paper examines the key factors involved in the introduction and proliferation of jazz in several countries in Latin America that have been generally overlooked in the discussion of the diffusion of jazz throughout the Western Hemisphere. While a great deal is known of the presence of jazz in Brazil and Cuba, much less is known when the topic is, to name one case, jazz in Panama. The evolution of the jazz tradition in this Central American country, plus an examination of the presence of jazz in two neighboring countries, is one focus of this paper.
To provide a contrast to the experiences of these three nations, which being geographically relatively close to the U.S. benefited in the development of their national jazz culture through the interaction of commercial trade and immigration, the paper also considers the antecedents of jazz in several other more culturally distinct and physically remote Latin American nations, specifically Chile, Argentina and Paraguay.
Given the geographical vastness of the region in question, the striking cultural differences between the nations in question, a century of more of history, and a variety of economic, societal and political factors, it is not possible to address the topic in great depth. Rather, the paper should be viewed as a broad overview that will hopefully serve to stimulate other analyses. It is also revealing to note that such highly regarded texts as The Jazz Book (Lawrence Hill Books, 1983) by Joachim E. Berendt and The Making of Jazz – A Comprehensive History (Houghton Mifflin,
1978) by James Lincoln Collier, scarcely make mention of even the best known jazz artists and trends to emerge from several of the countries discussed in the paper. Caribbean Currents &
Beyond is a small but necessary step in helping to rectify this unfortunate reality of neglect.
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Introduction and Overview
It is of upmost importance to underscore the fact that jazz and recording technology grew side-by-side, literally hand-in-hand from the earliest days when the late 19th Century ragtime works of Scott Joplin were captured on wax cylinders and the first disks. This meant that for the first time in human history, audiences could experience an aural performance without having to be in the physical presence of the performing artists. In terms of how the music migrated to such countries as Panama, Venezuela and Argentina, among many others, the commercial availability of sound recordings served to accelerate the diffusion of new works and styles.
It is also important to consider the pervasive role of the United States in its relations with nations throughout the Western Hemisphere during the early, formative part of the history of the development of jazz. Decades before the concept of “globalization” became a reality, Latin American nations, although geographically quite distant, were viewed as being in the backyard of the United States. The Monroe Doctrine of 1823, in which the U.S. declared that any attempt by European countries to interfere in Latin American nations would be viewed as “an act of aggression,” underscored the point. Through both commerce and political alliances, the U.S., until fairly recently, was the preeminent military, economic and cultural power in the region.
Given the influence in the region of Hollywood movies and television programs, among other elements of North American cultural output, it’s not surprising that the U.S. has long been influential in dictating cultural trends “south-of-the-border.” Consider two somewhat humorous yet illustrative examples: in Venezuela, arranger Andy Duran found inspiration in such TV soundtracks as “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Peter Gunn” to fashion his Latin jazz big band arrangements, while Peruvian jazz guitarist has Richie Zellon has gravitated to such remote
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stylistic touchstones as “The Twilight Zone” theme and the rock tune “Smoke on the Water.” On a more serious note, Brazilian musicians such as Milton Nascimento speak of the influence of artists ranging from Glenn Miller and Henry Mancini to Frank Sinatra and Miles Davis.
Other questions beg consideration. The exportation of jazz from the U.S. to such distant lands as Chile was initially accomplished when a merchant seaman transported a disk or wax cylinder of an early jazz recording aboard an ocean-going steamer for the one to two month passage. Today, aural information that is vastly superior in quality can be transmitted to any point on the globe in a matter of seconds. You Tube has become the new way to do “field research.” How has the digital technological revolution influenced how music is created and how will the continued refinement of communications technology influence jazz in the future?
It begs to be asked whether such distinct genres as the New Orleans-style trad jazz, the Brazilian bossa nova, the Cuban cha-cha-cha or the Argentine tango, among many others, would exist as we know them today if they hadn’t begun their growth and achieved their stylistic maturation long before the advent of instant communications and digital technology. Although virtually every genre of music has been influenced to some degree by outside sources, the gestation period today for new styles has been reduced to all but a millisecond.
I hinted at this reality in notes written for Africa Latina, a 2008 release by Venezuelan pianist and composer Leo Blanco:
While the potent cocktail of music styles from a small handful of Latin American countries has long entranced listeners and musicians in virtually every corner of the earth, Venezuela’s music treasures have remained largely in the shadows, reserved for an intrepid few who have dared to test the waters beyond more well known shores. As Cuba’s mambo, Argentina’s tango and Brazil’s bossa nova elicited global admiration, the music riches of Venezuela and other South American countries evolved organically, just beyond the glare of the international spotlight.
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In summation, the question isn’t whether any given genre has been influenced by external sources; they most certainly have. However, in the case of such examples as the bossa nova, which was influenced by West Coast jazz and such practitioners as trumpeter Chet Baker and baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, those references were introduced sparingly, irregularly, and in measured amounts. Today, for the curious, the world of music is at their fingertips.
This paper will explore not only how jazz arrived in a number of Latin American nations, but how it evolved, the degree to which locally produced jazz merely mimicked the prevailing styles stamped “Made in the USA,” which nations succeeded in fusing jazz concepts to their own nationally-identified music idioms, and the influence of other seemingly extraneous factors as dictatorships and even natural phenomenon.
The early flowering of a jazz culture in Panama was directly related to the presence of thousands of North Americans and English-speaking West Indians who had relocated in the new country to work on the Panama Canal. The time period of this monumental engineering project (1904 to 1914) closely coincided with the emergence of the earliest forms of jazz in the U.S. The transmission, through recordings, sheet music, and the personal involvement of individual musicians, of the earliest jazz output from the U.S. to its outpost in Central America was a logical consequence of the North American presence in Panama. It was not unexpected, then, that among the first non-U.S. born musician to immigrate to the U.S. and achieve artistic success there was the Panamanian pianist and composer Luis Russell. The story of this multi- instrumentalist is even more impressive when the facts of his early life are known. He was born
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and raised in an isolated region of northwestern Panama near the town of Bocas del Toro that is still considered remote today. It is telling that when Russell, who collaborated with Louis Armstrong and many other notable North American jazz musicians of the early 20th Century, moved to the U.S. in 1919 to begin his career there, that jazz had yet to secure a foothold in virtually all of the other Latin American nations.
Many other Panamanian musicians followed over the succeeding decades, extending the tradition Russell had established at the onset of the jazz age. Because of the presence of the Panama Canal and thousands of U.S. military and civilian personnel throughout most of the 20th Century, Panama’s budding jazz community was enhanced through interaction with noted U.S. jazz musicians who frequently performed in Panama City jazz clubs. In recent years, the Panama Jazz Festival, now in its second decade, has strengthened the country’s jazz education capabilities and improved performance opportunities. At the same time, the festival’s founder and director, pianist Danilo Pérez, has explored on several recordings the possibilities of combining jazz with such indigenous Panamanian styles as the cumbia-related offshoots mejorana and tamborito. Pérez has also utilized native Panamanian musicians proficient in these and other folkloric idioms on recordings.
Panamanian jazz musicians of note
Luis Russell, composer, arranger and pianist; Mauricio Smith, composer and flautist; Clarence Martin, bassist; Victor Boa, composer and pianist; Carlos Garnett, composer and saxophonist; Billy Cobham, drummer; Jorge Sylvester, saxophonist; Danilo Pérez, composer and pianist.
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In an important way, Panama served as a beachhead for the proliferation of jazz in the immediate region, including the neighboring country of Colombia, of which Panama was a part until it seceded in 1903. A key example is what is believed to have been the first performance by a jazz ensemble in Colombia. In 1921 the Orquesta Panamá Jazz Band of Colón a Panamanian port city, performed at the Club ABC in the Caribbean port city of Barranquilla. According to press accounts, the group produced a “delirious” reaction from the local populace and, over the course of the following several years, the favored European styles of the day were overtaken and displaced by the new sound from the United States, including such styles as the Fox Trot, Charleston and other forms associated with early jazz.
Considering the important role of port cities in the introduction of jazz throughout the region, it was not unusual that jazz initially flowered in Colombia not in the capital and largest city, Bogotá, which is located in the mountainous center of the country, but in three Caribbean coast port cities – Cartagena, Santa Marta and Barranquilla. Of interest is that these Colombian cities also boasted many of the same cultural elements and ethnicities as were to found in New Orleans, the cradle of jazz and also a Caribbean basin port city.
Jazz spread quickly in this culturally fertile region of north Colombia, aided in part by the presence of a substantial colony of capable musicians, some of whom had gained pertinent experience while performing with visiting North American bands in Panama. Within a matter of a few short years, such jazz-oriented ensembles as the Atlântico Jazz Band, Orquesta Jazz Band Sosa and Orquesta Internacional had established themselves in clubs on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.
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Thus initiated, the jazz tradition in Colombia kept pace throughout the decades with international stylistic trends. Today, the country’s jazz culture is quite vibrant and is further cultivated through well produced annual festivals in Barranquilla, Medellín, Cali, Bogotá and several smaller provincial cities.
Colombian jazz musicians of note
Justo Almario, composer, saxophone and flute; Edy Martinez, composer, arranger and pianist;
Hector Martignon, composer and pianist; Samuel Torres, percussionist and composer;
In Venezuela, a transitional economic development in some ways as auspicious as the building of the Panama Canal also coincided with the advent of jazz in the U.S. In 1912, the
Venezuelan government granted concessions to firms in the U.S. and Holland to explore for and exploit oil reserves in the country. The arrival of considerable numbers of foreigners and the accompanying economic boost provided an incentive for the Victor and Columbia recording companies to export their disks to Caracas. At the same time, the acquisition of a Victrola had become a sign of individual prosperity. The historic 1917 recording by the Original Dixieland
Jass Band, believed to have been among the first aural documentation of jazz repertoire, among other releases, became wildly popular in Venezuela.
By the 1930s, several jazz ensembles had established themselves, including Jazz Band Mavare, Jazz Band Unión, and Jazz Band Barquisimento. The popularity of big band swing music of the U.S. also had a significant influence in Venezuela, with groups such as |La Orquesta Luis Alfonso Larrain and the appropriately-named The Swing Time, achieving popularity by the
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late 1930s. Throughout successive decades, Venezuela produced several artists and movements that attracted international attention. Pianist and composer Aldemaro Romero, for instance, created a style in the 1970s called the onda nueva that he hoped would become Venezuela’s answer to Brazil’s bossa nova. The jazzy music, performed in a brisk 5/4 tempo, achieved its zenith of global fame via the 1974 album Onda Nueva featuring U.S. jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd.
In recent years, due to economic, social and political realities in the country, the climate for jazz in general, but clubs, festivals and recordings in particular, has not been positive and has resulted in less activity in the jazz performance arena.
Venezuelan jazz musicians of note
Aldemaro Romero, composer and pianist; Alfredo Naranjo, composer and vibraphonist; Edward
Simon, composer and pianist; Marlon Simon, percussionist; Aquiles Báez, guitarist; Andy Duran, composer, arranger and bandleader; Biella Da Costa, vocalist; Ramón "Moncho" Carranza, saxophonist; Pedro Eustache, flautist; Maria Márquez, vocalist; among others.
In the case of Chile, as in Argentina and other Latin American nations, the diffusion of jazz, although more circuitous, was typically initiated through contact with North Americans.
Chile’s unique geographical circumstances – cut off from Peru to the north by the inhospitable
Atacama Desert, from Argentina to the east by the virtually impassable Andes Mountains, and isolated from the rest of the world by the vastness of the south Pacific Ocean – only meant that it took the music just a while longer to arrive and take hold.
The beachhead for jazz was the port city of Valparaíso, where a young musician, Pablo
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Garrido, began to collect recordings brought to the country by merchant seamen from the U.S. By the mid 1920s, he had organized what was Chile’s first jazz band, the Royal Orchestra, and performed regularly at Confiteria Colón, a Valparaiso restaurant. The ensemble was typical for its time, featuring violins, tuba, trombones, trumpets, saxophones, banjo, drums and piano.
In its succinct overview of the history of jazz in Chile, El Real Book Chileno – Partituras de jazz y fusion nacional (The Chilean Real Book – Scores of National Jazz and Fusion) broadly summarizes the evolution of jazz in this South American nation by giving the discussion of the hallmarks of each decade a referential title. Of interest is how the succession of styles generally mirrors what had transpired in the U.S., although in some cases the lag time amounts to as much as five to 10 years.
The decade-by-decade description reads like this: Años ‘20 – Valparaíso es testigo (Valparaíso is Witness); Años ‘30 – Orquestas melódicos, salón y baile (Melodic, Ballroom and Dance Orchestras); Años ‘40 – Hot jazz en Santiago (Hot Jazz in Santiago); Años ‘50 – A todo swing (All Swing); Años ‘60 – La entra de los jóvenes modernistas (The Entrance of the Young Modernists); Años ‘70 y ’80 – Electricidad y mixturas (Electricity and Mixtures); Años ’90 – Bop después del apagón (Bop after the Blackout – a reference to the end of the 17-year long military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet); Años ‘00 – La generación cero-cero (The Zero-Zero Generation).
A perspective on the evolution of jazz in Chile, as related by saxophonist Patricia Zárate, is revealing and sheds light on how the music was disseminated through formal study, the informal exchange of copied recordings from the U.S., and involvement of musicians in both student and professional groups:
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In the late 1980's when I started studying saxophone, only a small group of people listened to and played jazz. Some musicians were connected to the big band era, such as Carmelo Bustos and Miky Mardones, two of my first saxophone teachers. They loved that style of jazz and knew by heart the saxophone parts and the solos of Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and other great jazz musicians. And, that's what they taught. A new "tape" (copied from an LP) was the most exciting thing to have in a class.
Other smaller groups also included "Dixieland," the "boppers," and the "modernists." Among the "modern" post-bop fanatics was my last teacher, Marcos Aldana, a very talented saxophone player who helped me fall in love with jazz by showing me technique and transcriptions of younger players.
I used to go to the Club de Jazz de Santiago since I was 13 years old because my mother once lived with an amateur jazz musician. One day, a saxophone player from the U.S. played at the club and I told my mother I wanted to play "that thing" (a tenor sax). It took me a year to convince her, and with the help of my mother's jazz musician friend, I got one.
Zárate made the pilgrimage to the U.S. in 1995 to begin studies at Berklee College of Music and became the first woman from her homeland to graduate from the prestigious institution.
Jazz in Chile has been recently influenced by everything from politics to natural disasters. The Pinochet dictatorship (1973 – 1990) had a chilling effect on the culture; there were fewer jazz festivals than before or since. In 2010, a major earthquake destroyed what had been Santiago’s major venue for live jazz since 1943, the Club de Jazz de Santiago. Today, a new club, Thelonious, is providing performance space for both established artists and student ensembles, featuring two different groups a night, five nights a week. The presence in Chile of several independent record labels is also providing an outlet for promising national talent.
Chilean jazz musicians of note
Marco Aldana, saxophonist; Melissa Aldana, saxophonist; Claudio Rubio, saxophonist; Felipe Riveros, composer and pianist; Pedro Green, drummer; Martin Joseph, pianist; Agustín Moya, saxophone; Carlos Vera, vibraphone.
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This South American nation, in part due to its large middle class and an intellectual sophistication nurtured in such major urban centers as the capital city, Buenos Aires, has long been an active participant in the jazz culture. Thanks to a prevalence of live theater, opera, ballet, symphony orchestras, and tango, the country has always had a substantial number of highly trained professional musicians. Thus, it was ripe to embrace and expand upon jazz idioms when the music was initially introduced to the country.
North American and European ragtime groups began performing in Buenos Aires as early as 1910. Given the public’s interest in this new style, local bands began performing selections, alternating early jazz and their customary tango repertoire. In 1927, the appearance in Buenos Aires by U.S. pianist and arranger Sam Wooding and his band, The Chocolate Kiddies, helped crystallize an interest in jazz music. Several decades later, the residency in Buenos Aires of saxophonist Booker Pittman, another African-American jazz artist from the States, also served to energize the local jazz scene.
Since the 1950s, Argentina has been known for its penchant for modernist styles (although an interest in traditional jazz styles of the 1920s and ‘30s continues to hold sway with some, as evidenced by the popularity of the trad-style Fenix Jazz Band for the past three decades). Pianist Boris “Lalo” Schifrin was “discovered” by trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie while on tour in South America, and soon made his way to the U.S. and fame as both a jazz pianist and composer of motion picture and television soundtracks. Two decades later, tenor saxophonist Leandro “Gato” Barbieri became internationally influential thanks to his rugged, searing tone, penchant for European-style avant-garde sounds, and the co-opting of Argentine folkoric idioms.
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Today, while small, Argentina’s jazz culture is fortified by a continued flow into the mix of talented young instrumentalists, vocalists, composers and arrangers and the presence of several independent record labels that provide an outlet for the country’s large contingent of gifted jazz artists.
Argentina jazz musicians of note
Oscar Alemán, guitarist; Boris “Lalo” Schifrin, composer and pianist; Leandro “Gato” Barbieri, composer and saxophonist; Chivo Borraro, composer and saxophonist; Alberto Favero, composer, arranger and pianist; Jorge Lopez Ruiz, composer and bassist; Jorge Dalto, composer, arranger and pianist; Roberto “Fats” Fernández, trumpeter; Carlos Franzetti, composer, arranger and pianist; Diego Urcola, trumpeter; Pedro Giraudo, bassist, composer and arranger; Pablo
Aslan, composer and bassist; Fernando Tarrés, guitarist; Paula Shocron, pianist; Mariano
Loiacono, trumpeter; Carlos Lastra, saxophonist; Gustavo Musto, saxophonist; Horacio Fumero, bassist; Luis Nacht, woodwinds; Mariano Otero, bassist and cellist; among many others.

It should not be surprising to learn that, compared, to other countries in the region, jazz was slow to arrive in this landlocked nation. Situated in the heart of the continent of South America between Argentina and Brazil, Paraguay is one of the poorest countries in all of Latin America. For centuries, it has remained both physically and culturally isolated and has endured long periods of repressive military dictatorships. With a small middle class, a large indigenous population, the Guaraní, and a perpetually poor economic situation, the country historically
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lacked the factors needed to generate an interest in or ability to sustain a significant jazz culture.
The first time the word “jazz” was used in Paraguay in association with a music group was in 1944 when a quartet, named Asunción Jazz, performed at the Teatro Municipal in the capital city. In the following decade, North American songs became popular, thanks to exposure on local radio and through the distribution of recordings. The growing interest in music from the U.S. created a demand for bands to perform this repertoire at such social events as weddings, birthday parties, and baptisms. To fill the need, orchestras generically known as “típica y jazz” (typical music and jazz) were organized. Other larger groups, known as “orquestas de jazz,” performed big band style dance music and other genres. Another sign of the maturation of Paraguay’s small but fertile jazz culture was the founding in 1963 of the Jazz Club Paraguayo. In the decade-long history of the venue, it organized and presented monthly jam sessions and featured local groups.
The direct role played by the United States government in Paraguay was not surprising, giving the close political relationship between national governments of that era and U.S. administrations. The U.S. Embassy and its cultural center became a point of cultural diffusion. Jazz recordings in particular were made available at the cultural center. In retrospect, Paraguayans perceived these cultural overtures as a way for the U.S. to present, via jazz, a positive view of race relations during a time of riots and confrontations over civil rights. During the 1960s, as an outgrowth of President John Kennedy’s “Alliance for Progress” outreach to Latin America, jazz presentations increased. As part of this initiative, the U.S. Department of State dispatched various “jazz ambassadors” to tour the region. The first to arrive in Paraguay was clarinetist Woody Herman and his big band in 1963.
In the following decades, the Paraguayan jazz scene has remained a small but resilient force in
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the nation’s cultural milieu. Although two of the country’s best internationally known musicians, guitarist Berta Rojas and harpist Roberto Pereira, are not jazz musicians in the strictest sense of the word, several homegrown, accomplished jazz artists have come to the fore in Asunción.

Paraguayan jazz musicians of note:

Carlos Schvartzman, composer, arranger, pianist and guitarist; Gustavo Viera, guitarist; Germán Lema, composer and pianist; Toti Morel, drummer.

Toward a national jazz language
Many jazz musicians of Latin American nations have been and continue to be are quite content to concentrate on and perform one or more of the standard, internationally-recognized styles of jazz, be it bebop, swing, soul jazz, fusion or other variants. Others, meanwhile, have been and continue to be tempted by the intellectual challenge of melding locally-evolved styles with jazz to create a new hybrid that speaks both to the universality of the music and the particular cultural perspectives of a country or region within that country.
In Argentina, proponents of the very rigidly-constructed tango have occasionally flirted with the prospect of marrying this hallowed form to the improvisational character of jazz. As early as 1940, concerts in Buenos Aires featured tango musicians playing jazz. In 1974 in Milan, Italy, Astor Piazzolla and his group recorded the album Summit – Reunión Cumbre with jazz baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan. While it is entrancing music and truly a one-of-a-kind encounter between two wholly distinctive master musicians, whether or not it represents a successful fusion of jazz and tango is open to debate. Piazzolla himself was quoted as saying, “In my music, there isn’t a harmonic scheme that repeats itself every 12 bars but there is perpetual change. And Gerry
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was a bit blocked by that.” However, a French critic proclaimed that it was “the most audacious attempt” to fuse jazz with another tradition since Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain in 1960.
Indeed, vibraphonist Gary Burton, who recorded the 1988 album The New Tango with Piazzolla and two subsequent tributes to the composer after his passing, Ástor Piazzolla Reunion: A Tango Excursion in 1996 and Libertango: The Music of Ástor Piazzolla in 2000, made a telling comment about Argentina jazz. In 2000, Burton commented:
I’m not sure that there exists a specific style of Argentine jazz. But I think that there is a high level of musicality in Argentina that goes well with jazz.
Carlos Franzetti is the New York City-based, Buenos Aires-born composer, orchestrator, pianist and multiple Grammy Award-winner who has distinguished himself in classical, jazz and tango idioms. He puts the question of whether jazz and tango can successfully be combined into technical terms:
The improvisation in tango has to keep the elements of the tango roots harmonically, rhythmically and melodically (intervals). You can't depart from the music, like some musicians do playing, for instance, ‘por una cabeza’ (the head of the song) and then blowing a bebop solo in the style of “Billy's Bounce.” Tango doesn't have a constant rhythm pulse and the harmonic progressions are quite different than the American standards. The harmonic inversions are different; therefore the improvisation has to be totally different. The closest thing to a successful attempt to improvise over tangos can be find in recordings of Horacio Salgán, a genius pianist and composer.
Montevideo, Uruguay native Florencia Gonzalez, an accomplished saxophonist, composer, arranger and leader of her own Boston-based big band who has experimented with tango and Uruguayan folkloric ingredients, sees some of the same problems in adapting tango to jazz:
I totally agree with Franzetti’s comments, especially the one about tempo. I have been noticing that a lot as well as how rigorous the tempo conception is here in the North. American musicians have a ridiculously amazing tempo compared to the South. In the South, in Uruguay and Argentina, everything is very elastic. You hear those typical orchestras and they all move in this elastic tempo. It feels a little like a living creature.
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If the jury is still out on whether tango-jazz can yet become a viable genre, by contrast Venezuela, Panama and Colombia have all achieved some success in their efforts to create an identifiable national style of jazz, albeit on a limited basis.
Panama, as previously discussed, has seen a cautious but steady attempt to incorporate purely indigenous influences into the fabric of modern jazz. Pianist Danilo Pérez and saxophonist Carlos Garnett, among others, have worked to advance this stylistic synthesis.
In Venezuela, the 6/8 folkloric style known as joropo has been the focus of several promising efforts to combine jazz improvisation with a national music idiom. In the extensive critical notes written in 1967 for the album The Venezuelan Joropo by British jazz pianist Victor Feldman and an ensemble that included harp, marimba and vibraphone, University of Washington ethnomusicologist Dr. Robert Garfias wrote:
Certainly there have been incursions of Latin American music into jazz and popular music in the United States. The several waves of Cuban music and most recently the sambas, maracatus and baiãos of bossa nova have each had strong and lasting effects. But the music of Venezuela is somehow rather special. Being primarily an outgrowth of the old popular music of the Spanish Colonial period in Venezuela with little Afro-American influence, this music has not lent itself to the fervor or flashy intensity of the music of Cuba or Brazil. There is certainly a high degree of rhythmic intensity in the music of Venezuela but its usual rhythms occur in groups of six beats with the characteristic groups and alterations of 3-3 with 2-2-2, which link this music with other remnants of Spanish Colonial music.
Among others, the Venezuelan llanera (plains) harpist Carlos Guedes has been particularly effective in bringing a strong improvisational element to the joropo style.
In Colombia, the use of native instruments, in particular the bamboo gaita flute, the ritual chants of various Afro-Colombian sects, and such popular native rhythms as the cumbia, have been appropriated by jazz musicians in interesting and generally productive ways. In 1978,
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renowned jazz bassist and bandleader Charles Mingus, in the company of a number of well known jazz instrumentalists, including Panamanian flautist Mauricio Smith, and a section of Latin percussionists, recorded the groundbreaking album Cumbia & Jazz Fusion. The session captured an ambitious effort to marry avant-garde jazz concepts to indigenous Colombian rhythms. More recently, Colombian woodwind artist Justo Almario has advanced the spirit of the Mingus project, particularly with his group Tolú in the company of noted Peruvian percussionist Alex Acuña. Likewise, Bogotá-born pianist and composer Hector Martignon has utilized folkloric elements of his land in adventurous ways, particularly through the involvement in his recordings of Colombian folk harpist Edmar Castaneda.
The world has changed in many ways since jazz made its first tentative inroads in Latin American countries. Today, the instant exchange of cultural information via the Internet, You Tube and Facebook is taken for granted. Gone perhaps forever are opportunities like those experienced by members of the Paul Winter Sextet, which in 1962 made an historic, unprecedented six month tour to every nation of Latin America and the Caribbean. These young modernists performed 160 concerts and engaged in an endless number of opportunities to exchange music ideas face-to-face with local musicians, from Haiti to Argentina, in capitals, on university campuses, in clubs, and in cities where jazz had seldom been heard at that time, such as Curitiba, Brazil and Cali, Colombia. The experience produced at least one reciprocal opportunity; alto saxophonist Winter, later of “New Age” fame, went on to record a critically-acclaimed album with Brazilian vocalist, guitarist and composer Carlos Lyra and a rhythm
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section that included pianist Sérgio Mendes.
Curiously, just a decade-and-a-half after Winter’s time-consuming tour but still over a decade before the Internet entered our lives, the concept of a much more rapidly changing jazz landscape was already being discussed. In his notes to a U.S. label’s reissued of mid 1970s jazz recordings from Argentina, annotator Dick Broderick commented:
Much has been written in learned academic publications over the past decade about the rapidly shrinking world due to the ever growing speed of media communications. Most of this has developed in the last century and it is creating a polyglot of culture – a universal whole from many blends.
Jazz music is just one of the cultural forms that is benefitting from this continuing media explosion. Today we find jazz as entrenched in Tokyo as it is in Chicago and as innovative in Buenos Aires as it is in New Orleans.
Perhaps the observations of Chile’s Patricia Zárate best summarize what has recently transpired in the global circulations of jazz and what’s anticipated to come:
The globalization of jazz is such an amazing way of exchanging worlds. The world of the North and the South, the black and the white. The struggles of African Americans relate to all cultures and I think it relates to the Chilean people so much, because we struggled for 17 years under the Pinochet Dictatorship. Yet jazz music, little by little, did free us. There is no other way to explain why two very different cultures with little in common could be so united. Jazz music is an amazing gift to the world and globalization has proven to be the path to ethnic understanding. I think we have a long way to go with jazz in Chile, but the new generation is trying and some day we will make our imprint on jazz history.
Alvarez, F. (1999). Sin clave y bongó no hay son: Música afrocubana y confluencias
musicales de Colombia y Cuba. Editorial Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín.
Azzi, M.S., & Collier, S. (2000). Le Grand Tango – The Life and Music of Astor
Piazzolla. Oxford University Press.
Caribbean Currents & Beyond 20.
Balliache, S. (1997), Jazz en Venezuela. Grupo Editorial BALLGRUB, Caracas.
Berendt, J.E. (1982), The Jazz Book – From Ragtime to Fusion and Beyond. Lawrence Hill
Books, Chicago.
Carr, I., Fairweather, D., & Priestley, B. (1995), Jazz – The Rough Guide. The Rough Guides,
Fernández, R. (2006) From Afro-Cuban Rhythms to Latin Jazz (Music of the African
Diaspora) University of California Press
Ferrer, H., & Del Peiore, O. (1999). Inventando del Tango – Tomo II (1940 – 1998).
Fondo Nacional de las Artes, Buenos Aires.
Muñoz Vélez, E. (2007), Jazz en Colombia – Desde los alegres años 20 hasta
nuestros días. Fundación Cultural Nueva Música, Barranquilla.
Parker, M. (2007), Panama Fever Doubleday, New York.
Pérez Muñoz, A. (2012). El Real Book Chileno – Partituras de jazz y fusión nacional.
Matte Editores, Santiago.
Pujol, S. (2004), Jazz al sur – Historia de la música negra en la Argentina. Emecé
Editores, Buenos Aires.
Villamayor, J., and Castellani, R. (2012). Jazz en Paraguay. FONDEC, Asunción.
Américas Magazine (Organization of American States, Washington, D.C.)
Jazziz Magazine (Boca Raton, Florida)
Latino Magazine (Austin, Texas)
Latin Beat Magazine (Los Angeles)
Caribbean Currents & Beyond 21.
Personal Interviews
Carlos Franzetti, Argentine composer, arranger and pianist (2013)
Florencia Gonzalez, Uruguayan composer, arranger and saxophonist (2013)
Andy Duran, Venezuelan composer, arranger and bandleader (2012)
Danilo Pérez, Panamanian composer, pianist, educator (2010)
Paquito D’Rivera, Cuban composer, arranger and saxophonist (2000)
Kip Hanrahan, American composer and producer (1995)
Patricia Zárate, Chilean music education foundation head and saxophonist (2012)
Milton Nascimento, Brazilian composer and singer (1992)
Samuel Torres, Colombian composer and percussionist (2008)
Memo Azevedo, Colombian composer, percussionist and bandleader (2011)
Leo Blanco, Venezuelan composer and pianist (2008)
Humberto Ramirez, Puerto Rican composer, arranger and trumpeter (2000)
Among many others.

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