8. Telling Your Story
← 261 | 262 →Chapter 8
Telling Your Story
If jazz musicians are asked to explain what they are doing when playing jazz, they will often reply that they are “telling their story”.817 In ‘telling Africa’s story’, Batouala’s jazz-text displays in written narrative form many features we associate with jazz’s oral musical expression. The marked sibling resemblance of these superficially disparate forms of expression springs from their shared parentage of African music-speech inter-changeability.
Diabaté draws our attention to the close links between the griot’s art and that of the blues performer:
En effet, l’art du griot (sic) rappelle celui du chanteur du blues […] comme dans le jazz, on ne trouve jamais chez le griot (sic) deux récits exactement identiques.818
William Barlow claims that early blues performers were “African-American variations on the famous West African ‘griot’ (sic) tradition […] descendants of the griots (sic), carrying forward the historical and cultural legacy of their people”.819 The research of Paul Oliver and Sam Charters found similarities between the blues and the music of griots – “singing styles, rhythmic figures, texturing of voice and accompanying rhythm”. ← 262 | 263 →As a result, blues scholars now routinely refer to griot music in the discussion of this form.820
Murray insists that jazz comes from, and is a form of blues music. The blues is “a device for transcending, or at least coping with adversity”, he explains, while jazz “stomp[s] away the blues”.821 The consensus among artists and critics is that almost all successful jazz is...
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