Jiselle Rouet

Sounding the Transnational: Caribbean Jazz in Trinidad and Tobago

This project will explore the notion of transnationalism through sound as it is embodied by Caribbean jazz in Trinidad and Tobago. The term Caribbean jazz, used by jazz musicians throughout the Caribbean, is paradoxical. It represents a rubric that shows how Caribbean jazz is at once both local and regional; deeply rooted in socio-historically specific sounds unique to each island, yet referring to the body of jazz repertoire emerging from the entire Caribbean. Caribbean jazz has emerged from African-American jazz just as Latin Jazz has, but it is distinguished in each island by the heavy incorporation of various local musical styles and instruments. Jazz musicians in Trinidad and Tobago often fuse styles from local musics such as calypso, the Orisha tradition and chutney as well as other East Indian musical practices. Through analysis of sound, I plan to explore the ways that Caribbean jazz in Trinidad and Tobago both converses with and helps to redefine the concept of transnationalism. This project explores how the sound of Caribbean jazz, a distinct style of jazz that emerges from distinct materialities and histories, is produced and informed in relation to issues such as the politics of race and nation-state, and diasporic intimacies.