Ethno jazz

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Ethno-jazz is a term that was first applied by the media in the 1980s and whose meaning is rather vague to designate areas of jazz that either process elements of ethnic music or are characterized by the collaboration of jazz musicians with representatives of other musical cultures.

Ethno jazz is for a time equated with world music or this (especially in the period before 1990) is seen as its forerunner. The term initially describes the coming together of (popular) music and jazz from non- or partially industrialized countries. It is not very analytically developed, but primarily serves to market this music in industrialized countries such as the USA and Europe .

The term “ethno” (from ethnology ) is understood in a rather metaphorical “broad” sense and as a rule cannot be related to a specific ethnic group . Rather, it is characterized by the lack of clearly defined styles and the simultaneity of different formal systems. Ethno-jazz achieved independent significance from around 1990 onwards with the onset of globalization and later the worldwide Internet as well as, above all, the commercial successes of ethnic bands and musicians. From the US and European point of view, interpreters from emerging countries , especially from the new global growth centers of Southeast Asia and the People's Republic of China, are important .


In numerous global regions such as India , Latin America or Africa , the corresponding music was created even before this point in time. Examples are the emergence of jazz through the partially verifiable musical interaction between New Orleans and the Caribbean , Afro Cuban jazz of the 1940s / 1950s, Arabic influences in jazz of the 1950s and early 1960s, Indian and Balinese influences in the music of Don Cherry and im Rock jazz of the 1970s and the importance of South African kwela music in the British jazz scene due to encounters with Chris McGregor and Louis Moholo . On the other hand, jazz music has changed music in numerous countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America since the 1930s. The Kwela music of South Africa should be mentioned here for the 1950s as well as for the 1960s Mulatu Astatke's fusion of Western jazz, Latin American music and traditional Ethiopian music or Gato Barbieri's synthesis of free jazz, Argentinian and Brazilian musica popular . In Sweden, Jan Johansson remembered the folk music of his homeland and in 1964 released the extremely successful album Jazz på svenska . the Indo-British composer and violinist John Mayer , who initially fused classical occidental art music with Indian music, played his Indo-Jazz fusion with a sitar player with Joe Harriott in 1965 .

Partly independent of these developments, music producers like Joachim Ernst Berendt have been trying to create a direct crossover since the 1960s by creating musical encounters between musicians from individual countries in the south and jazz musicians under the motto Jazz meets the world . These encounters worked particularly well when the jazz musicians got involved in the tonal language of the corresponding music. Particularly noteworthy here are the encounters between Tony Scott and the Indonesian All Stars around Bubi Chen or John Handy (and similarly also from Charlie Mariano ) with Indian musicians, but also the interplay between Ornette Coleman and the Moroccan master musicians from Joujouka : Coleman “had found a theme, some kind of riff that was a perfect link between his idiom and hers, and by conducting while playing, he managed to weave a whole symphony of changing textures around that riff. And he developed the piece in three movements so that it had a rich formal symmetry. "

Ethno jazz, especially from the 1990s onwards, means jazz according to the US and European view, but interspersed with typical musical characteristics of non-predominant cultures. On the one hand, there are musical traditions of non-North American and non-European regions, particularly of today's Southeast Asian and Chinese growth centers. However, these can also be long-marginal European traditions, such as those of the Saami , Roma , Sinti or Alpine population groups ("Alpine fusion"), or traditions of the American natives, as exemplified in the plays by Jim Pepper with the Jazz idioms were linked.

Rabih Abou-Khalil and Luciano Biondini

On the surface (from the American and European point of view), ethno-jazz sometimes does not appear to be jazz at all, because on the one hand the themes are made up of different sound material, on the other hand there is a lack of originally characteristic elements of jazz such as swing. In addition to jazz-influenced improvisations, there are also those based on non-jazz, ethnic scales and meters and leaps in intervals. This can be clearly seen in the music of Rabih Abou-Khalil , Sainkho Namtchylak , Nguyên Lê , Adrian Gaspar , Nana Simopoulos or Dino Saluzzi . In addition to the musical analysis, it is possible that there is currently still a lack of suitable benchmarks to determine exactly when it is ethnic jazz and when it is not.


  • Dominik Schnetzer (2005): Ethnojazz between esotericism and pragmatism: On the development of a controversial genre. In: GVS Bulletin (PDF; 1.6 MB) p. 46ff.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wicke / Ziegenrücker / Ziegenrücker: Handbook of popular music, 2001
  3. ^ Robert Palmer after Peter Niklas Wilson Ornette Colemann. Oreos-Verlag 1989, ISBN 3-923657-24-2 or archive link ( Memento of the original from October 13, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. The development of flamenco jazz in Spain since 1980 is particularly noteworthy.