14 July 2008

Monday's mp3: What in the World Is Jazz?

I've been pondering that question this week as I do research for an upcoming radio show on global jazz, or jazzy "world music." Like any evolving genre, jazz can be difficult to define. Like "world music" it's a umbrella that's so huge nearly everything can be found taking shelter beneath it.

So I won't actually answer the question in the title. I'll let someone more qualified do that. Among my favorite "world jazz" artists are a number of Africans: Hugh Masekela, of course, and Richard Bona, Suthukazi Arosi, Gangbe Brass Band, Henri Dikongue, Dorothy Masuka, Abdullah Ibrahim (aka Dollar Brand)...the list seems endless.

One of my favorite African musicians is not commonly described as a jazz musician. Heck, he's not commonly mentioned at all here in the US, despite his tremendous chops and even more stellar compositions. I've written about Louis Mhlanga in a previous post; here he is with Dutch bassist Eric Van Der Westen, on a sublime CD released in 2000. Is it jazz? You decide.

[mp3] Louis Mhlanga & Eric Van Der Westen: Batho
from the album Song for Nomsa (the only source I've seen for this album is here)

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