In Africa, music occupies a central role in human existencefrom birth to death, from somber ritual to joyous celebration. Traditional African music has passed from generation to generation over hundreds of years; because master musicians occupy a very prominent position in society, their art serves many roles. Instruments, forms, and arrangements go back before recorded history.
But upon the arrival of European colonists, everything changed. The occupying forces brought with them a new collection of traditions, ranging from church-derived choral music to marching bands and various other ensembles. Africans began to assimilate these sounds; traditional music was well along in giving way to popular music. And when jazz flooded America, it became a prominent cultural export to the African continent. So did the traditional forms of Cuba, Jamaica, the Antilles, Brazil and other areas. What resulted was a musical collision of epic proportions, which is still evolving in very unexpected and sometimes profound ways.
This page collects and archives individual reviews of African music which have been published as CD reviews at All About Jazz from 1998-2007. It excludes material reviewed elsewhere within the African Jazz column, as well as reviews of South African jazz, which have been archived separately.