In the western world, meaning basically North America and Europe, news spread of this new music just after the end of World War I. In the United States, this music was rejected by some due to reasons of racism and respectability, and accepted by others due to its exotic and exciting innovation. In the Roaring Twenties, with the Charleston fashion catching on, jazz began to penetrate into the middle and working classes. The first reactions in Europe were that it was scandalous, but more open minds then began to accept jazz as another element within the avant-garde artistic trends that spread in the period between the two world wars. Throughout the 20s and 30s, European colonial movements brought jazz to Africa (from Morocco to Egypt), to Asia (Hong Kong, Shanghai, etc.), and to Australia. Following World War II, jazz exploded all over the world. Even in Japan, which had been massacred and humiliated by the United States, a solid and active base of fans for jazz music was established. In the following decades of the 50s and 60s, it could be said that this musical genre invented by Black America had conquered the entire world and the grand figures of jazz made triumphal tours all over the globe. From the earliest years of its discovery in the new societies that welcomed it, fascination with the music brought out musicians and bands that added their names to the growing list of people practicing this genre. Now, with the phenomenon of globalization, there is no corner of the world in which you cannot find musicians of every race and culture who are qualified as jazz musicians. So, it is beyond discussion that jazz has become universal. However, some distinctions and clarifications must be made. The universalization of jazz led to the appearance of two attitudes that have developed into ever more divergent trends. 

The first belongs to musicians worldwide who recognize the legacy of Black Americans in the creation of jazz and in their interpretation, attempt to assimilate the language of those creators. The other attitude, which appeared later, is that shown by performers have disregarded that basic language of the African-Americans and simply taken advantage of its mechanisms of interpretive freedom in order to create new musical trends, many of which are based on other cultures or ethnicities, regardless of where they may come from. This is called jazz fusion and has nothing to do with the jazz as it was envisioned by its creators. Therefore, it is necessary, both out of respect and in order to understand what we are talking about, to establish new definitions and nomenclature that are suited to the current state of things. Universalization yes, but with respect and clarity.


Ricard Gili, Fundació Catalana Jazz Clàssic