Jazz in the Caribbean and its Influence on the Wider Society. An Exploration of the Cultural Elements that went into the Creation of Jazz: Markers of Identity by Merna Hague Bradshaw

In the 1940’s Jazz underwent a transformation instigated by the return to source of musicians disenchanted with the musical cul-de-sac that Swing had played itself into. Looking for inspiration and new direction, they turned to the rhythms of the Caribbean as a way of reconnecting with their African origins. From New Orleans and Dixieland to Cuba and Chano Pozo, to Trinidad and Calypso, the music struggled to re-invent itself, emerging after much resistance from the traditionalists as ‘Bop’. This dissertation will show that the Caribbean was the cultural matrix within which jazz was birthed and continued to exert influence on its development, through shared experiences of oral traditions, religious practice and the migratory patterns of Caribbean peoples throughout the Americas and Europe; it will show the geographical and historical routes of the music and the people who created it, and the post-modern manifestations of the music by a new generation of ‘modernists’ in the Caribbean and in the Diaspora at a time when North American musicians are once again declaring, ‘Jazz is Dead’.

Keywords: Merna Hague Bradshaw; Jazz; Caribbean; Globalization; Culture

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