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“We Both Speak African”: A Dialogic Study of Afro-Cuban Jazz

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 April 2011

DAVID GARCÍA*
Affiliation:
daga@email.unc.edu

Abstract

From 1947 to 1948 the Dizzy Gillespie orchestra with Chano Pozo produced some of the most important recordings that contributed to the development of Afro-Cuban jazz. Pozo had already led a successful career as a professional musician in Havana before he moved to New York City, where he met Gillespie and joined his bebop big band. The integration of a black Cuban percussionist into Gillespie's all-black band raises important questions about the racial politics enveloping the popularization of bebop, Afro-Cuban jazz, and the work of others in contemporaneous political, cultural, and intellectual arenas. This article provides new documentation of Pozo's performances with the Gillespie band in the United States and Europe and shows the ideological concerns that Pozo and Gillespie shared with West African political and cultural activists, Melville Herskovists and his students, and early jazz historians in the 1940s. The article suggests an alternative methodology for scholarship on jazz in the United States that approaches jazz's extensive engagements with Cuban and other Afro-Atlantic musicians as embodying the crux of jazz's place in the Afro-Atlantic.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for American Music 2011

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