Words by Natalie Weiner
Caribbean rhythms have had a huge impact on the world of international pop music—but less commonly talked about is the impact they’ve had on jazz. From the initial “Spanish tinge” of New Orleans jazz to now-ubiquitous calypso jazz standards, the sounds of the West Indies have helped shape developments in the jazz world for years. Yet, the work of Caribbean jazz musicians themselves is chronically underappreciated, especially because so many of them worked primarily outside of the United States. Here, we’ve picked some of the greats from all around the West Indies, whose contributions range from experimental free jazz to classic swing.
Start the list here, and look out for upcoming pieces on the history of Caribbean jazz in New York, and on the contemporary Caribbean jazz scene.