Tropical Riffs

Latin America and the Politics of Jazz

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 13 illustrations Published: March 2018

Author: Jason Borge

Cultural Studies, Latin American Studies, Music > Jazz

In Tropical Riffs Jason Borge traces how jazz helped forge modern identities and national imaginaries in Latin America during the mid-twentieth century. Across Latin America jazz functioned as a conduit through which debates about race, sexuality, nation, technology, and modernity raged in newspapers, magazines, literature, and film. For Latin American audiences, critics, and intellectuals—who often understood jazz to stem from social conditions similar to their own—the profound penetration into the fabric of everyday life of musicians like Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker represented the promises of modernity while simultaneously posing a threat to local and national identities. Brazilian antijazz rhetoric branded jazz as a problematic challenge to samba and emblematic of Americanization. In Argentina jazz catalyzed discussions about musical authenticity, race, and national culture, especially in relation to tango. And in Cuba, the widespread popularity of Chano Pozo and Dámaso Pérez Prado popularity challenged the United States' monopoly on jazz. Outlining these hemispheric flows of ideas, bodies, and music, Borge elucidates how "America's art form" was, and remains, a transnational project and a collective idea.


"A welcome and much needed extension and elaboration of jazz as an American cultural product on a hemispheric scale." — Eugene Holley, Jr., DownBeat

"A superb history of Latin American jazz's artistic and societal evolution." — Kevin Canfield, New York City Jazz Record

"Recommended." — K. R. Dietrich, Choice

"Tropical Riffs is a dazzling transnational cultural history destined to galvanize the next generation of both jazz studies and Latin American studies. Erudite, stylish, and every bit as cosmopolitan as its subject, Jason Borge's book brilliantly conceives of Latin American jazz as a thick cultural matrix connecting the music, film, journalism, criticism, and visual art communities of Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, New York City, and Los Angeles. Few books have taught me so much." — John Gennari, author of Flavor and Soul: Italian America at Its African American Edge

"Elegantly written and insightfully argued, Jason Borge's book considers the shifting local meanings surrounding jazz for Latin American critics and intellectuals of the 1920s and beyond, often framed by larger debates surrounding racial tension, US foreign policy, modernization, and cultural nationalism." — Robin D. Moore, coauthor of Danzón: Circum-Caribbean Dialogues in Music and Dance


Availability: In stock
Price: $26.95

Open Access

Fall 2019 Sale
Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jason Borge is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas, Austin, and the author of Latin American Writers and the Rise of Hollywood Cinema.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction. Kindred Sounds and Latin Cats  1
1. La Civilizada Selva: Latin America and the Jazz Age  13
2. Dark Pursuits: Argentina, Race, and Jazz  51
3. The Anxiety of Americanization: Jazz, Samba, and Bossa Nova  89
4. The Hazards of Hybridity: Afro-Cuban Jazz, Mambo, and Revolution  131
5. Liberation, Disenchantment, and the Afterlives of Jazz  163
Conclusion. The Cruelty of Jazz  195
Notes  201
Bibliography  237
Index  261
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6990-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6987-5
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