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Native Roots of Jazz

Series produced by KBEM

Caption: Bobb Fantauzzo performing with Lyz Jaakola, Credit: Andrea Canter
Image by: Andrea Canter 
Bobb Fantauzzo performing with Lyz Jaakola 

Native flute player Bobb Fantauzzo illuminates the contributions made by jazz musicians with Native American heritage.

It is commonly held that jazz developed out of a synthesis of European and African music. However, few people are aware that jazz was also influenced by Native American music. Although the influence of Native American music on jazz has not been widely expressed, it has not gone unnoticed. Oscar Pettiford contended that “the importance of the American Indian to jazz has been underestimated if not completely overlooked.” He also maintained “the 4/4 tempo, ...came directly from the American Indian; that, though it existed in European music, it was not used in the same way; and that African rhythms, ...were of very different rhythmic nature.” Native flute player Bobb Fantauzzo narrates a series of short biographical pieces highlighting some of the giants of jazz with Native roots.


18 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Caption: Pee Wee Russell, Credit: William P. Gottlieb
Pee Wee Russell, who asserted a part-Cherokee background, stands as one of most innovative clarinet players in jazz.

Bought by WTJU and KUMD


  • Added: Apr 27, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Max Roach, Credit: Albert Kok
Best known as a bebop player, Max Roach (of Tuscarora ancestry) was named a National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master in 1984.

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Apr 27, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Oscar Pettiford, Credit: William P. Gottlieb
Oscar Pettiford (whose mother was full-blooded Choctaw and father, half Cherokee) was one of the top bassists during the 1940's and 50's.

Bought by WTJU and WTJU


  • Added: Apr 27, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Jim Pepper
The son of a Creek mother and Kaw father, saxophonist Jim Pepper grew up surrounded by the songs and dances of inter-tribal powwows. Pepper was a ...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Apr 27, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Charlie Parker, Credit: William P. Gottlieb
A leading figure in the development of bebop, Charlie Parker (of Choctaw ancestry), is regarded as the greatest saxophonist of all time.

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Apr 27, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Thelonius Monk, Credit: William P. Gottlieb
Of Tuscarora ancestry, Thelonious Monk was one of the most inventive pianists of any musical genre. Dubbed the “High Priest of Bebop”, Monk introd...

Bought by WDNA and WTJU


  • Added: Apr 27, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Charles Lloyd, Credit: Dorothy Darr
Program notes for the 2015 National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master Awards Ceremony describe Charles Lloyd as “one of the key figures in the expa...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Apr 27, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: John Lewis, Credit: Bert Verhoeff
John Lewis was of Cherokee and Comanche lineage and is best known as the musical director and leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet.

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Apr 27, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Illinois Jacquet, Credit: William Paul Gottlieb
Jean Baptiste Jacquet is better known by his nickname, Illinois, which was given to him by his Sioux mother and comes from the Indian word “Illiniw...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Apr 27, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Dizzy Gillespie, Credit: Roland Godefroy
Dizzy Gillespie (of Cheraw descent), was one of the most influential players in the history of jazz. He was named a National Endowment of the Arts ...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Apr 27, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington (whose maternal grandmother was Cherokee) is regarded by many as the most influential composer in the history of jazz. And, as head ...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Apr 27, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Miles Davis, Credit: All About Jazz
Widely considered one of the most influential and consistently innovative musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis (of Cherokee ancestry) pointed...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Apr 26, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Don Cherry, Credit: All About Jazz
Don Cherry, of Choctaw ancestry, was one of the most lyrical and unique voices in jazz. Emphasizing expression and musical communication over speed...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Apr 26, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman, whose family ties reach back to the Occaneechee Tribe of North Carolina, was largely self-taught. His music has weathered the test...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Apr 26, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Dave Brubeck, Credit: Associated Press
Dave Brubeck, whose father was of Medoc descent, was one of the most active and popular jazz musicians in the world. His experiments with odd time ...

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  • Added: Apr 26, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Mildred Bailey
As the first full-time female big band singer in America, Mildred Bailey helped popularize jazz singing and opened the door for later jazz greats, ...

Bought by WTJU and WTJU


  • Added: Apr 26, 2016
  • Length: 04:44
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Sheila Jordan
Jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan often credited her Native roots as an influence in her singing.

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Apr 19, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
Bassist, composer and big band leader Charles Mingus claimed Native American roots, and he incorporated many genres of music into his compositions.

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Apr 19, 2016
  • Length: 05:00
  • Purchases: 1