Read: A Guide to Soul Jazz, Which Used Black Music History to Speak to the Present and to Build the Future

Screen Shot 2020-06-08 at 20.26.50

Ashawnta Jackson has written a fantastic piece for Bandcamp Daily, in which she takes a journey through Soul Jazz. From the beginnings, with organist Wild Bill Davis, through to Roy Ayers.

Jackson joins the dots between artists like Roy Ayres and Hugh Masekela. Discussing their jazz roots and the history and politics that shaped the music.

”When Roy Ayers went to Nigeria in 1979 to work on Music of Many Colours with Fela Kuti, he saw the music as a chance to break down barriers and bring those influences into his work. Just as musicians like Ayers were influenced and inspired by African music, African musicians were finding inspiration in soul jazz. Trumpeter Masekela came to the U.S. in 1961 to escape the brutal and racist system of apartheid in his native South Africa, and his dream was to play with the big names in jazz. “In the back of my head, I’d always wanted to go to New York,” he told an NME interviewer in 1984. “The only thing I didn’t know about American jazz was being physically in its vicinity.”
He soon led his own group, releasing his U.S. debut in 1962. The album which started to get him some notice, 1966’s The Americanization of Ooga Booga, combined South African sounds and influences with the American jazz he loved. Not too long after, he found himself with a massive hit—1968’s “Grazin’ in the Grass” (“We only recorded ‘Grazin” as a fill-up track for an album. Not that I didn’t take it seriously, but I just didn’t expect it to get the success it did,” Masekela told Blues & Soul a few years later.)”