by Wilbert Sostre, Journalist and, Owner Jazzin’ Magazine
Due to its emphasis on improvisation, the interpretation of Jazz requires a high level of knowledge and virtuosity; is music that is known as the classical music of the 20th century. Puerto Rican musicians have been protagonists of the history of this music since its beginnings in New Orleans and other cities in the United States over 100 years ago.
Rafael Hernández, along with his brother Jesús Hernández and more than a dozen Puerto Ricans, took the Jazz to Europe for the first time with Lieutenant James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters, the Orchestra of the United States Army during the First World War.
In the golden age of Swing and the Big Band, when Jazz became the popular music of the Americans, Juan Tizol and other Puerto Ricans contributed their musical intellect to the success of these orchestras. Juan Tizol and Rogelio “Ram” Ramirez were the creators of the Caravan and Lover Man compositions, which today are considered classics of Jazz standards which have been performed and recorded by the best Jazz musicians.
When Jazz is reunited with Cuban and Latin music, Puerto Rican musicians such as Tito Rodríguez and Tito Puente were recognized Masters of this fusion called Latin Jazz, which revolutionized the international music scene. From the 1960s to the present, bassist virtuoso Eddie Gómez has excelled in several styles and recorded with the best jazz performers, including pianist Bill Evans.
At the end of the 20th-century names like William Cepeda, David Sánchez, and Miguel Zenón write another essential chapter fusing Jazz with elements of Puerto Rican folk music (Bomba, Plena, Jíbara Music). In the 21st century, Puerto Rican jazz players continue to receive recognition and the future of Jazz in Puerto Rico seems to be in good hands with the emergence of young people committed to education, discipline, and musical excellence.
At Boricua Jazz, we enter the fascinating history of the musicians who contributed to the development of Puerto Rican Jazz.
Boricua Jazz is in the stage of editing and requesting permits for photographic material for publication at the beginning of 2019.