Excerpts from Billy Taylor's lectures at the Kennedy Center.


While the roots of jazz are firmly rooted in Africa, the culture of America is largely rooted in Europe. Jazz musicians used the musical instruments available in America, which were largely of European origin. Jazz musicians heard European music and many were familiar with the musical theories of European classical music. But they adapted these tools to express their own feelings and brought their own, African influenced, musical standards to bear in creating a uniquely American phenomenon. By the 1930's jazz music was being heard in Europe and Django Rheinhardt, a Belgian gypsy guitarist, became the first non-American to be a major jazz innovator. Perhaps owing to a greater emphasis on arts education in Europe, many jazz musicians have found opportunities for artistic growth and career advancement in Europe more attractive than in America.