September 13, 2011

Native Jazz Quartet

Different backgrounds help Native-Jazz Quartet stand out

By Suzanna CaldwellNative music and jazz may seem too dissimilar to ever be considered in the same sentence, let alone in the same song.

But for the men behind the Native Jazz Quartet, not only is it in their name, it’s what they do.

Former Alaskan Ed Littlefield blends traditional Tlingit lullabies, known as dléigoox, and layers the melodies with jazz beats. The music melds almost seamlessly. Easily recognizable jazz beats are delicately layered with Native sounds.
And:Together, each member of the quartet brings a distinct background to the group. Littlefield is Tlingit, Fabian grew up in Europe, Marsalis in New Orleans and Lubag in the Philippines. Littlefield uses Tlingit lullabies as his background, Marsalis uses American jazz, Fabian his European roots and Lubag Filipino sounds.

“It’s a concept,” Littlefield said. “We’re all native of somewhere.”

Fabian explained that native in the U.S. generally refers to an American Indian or Alaska Native, but that’s not necessarily what the group is getting at.
Comment:  For more on Native jazz, see Pamyua Blends Inuit Music, Jazz, Funk and Cherokee Jazz Saxophonist.

1 comment:

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:

Tlingit lullabies mix with jazz

Tlingit lullabies mingling with top tier jazz music? Most definitely. It's intriguing, poetic and approachable: the second annual Native Jazz Workshop will be held in Sitka the third week in July and there are open spots.

The culturally dynamic embrace between indigenous music and jazz is gaining momentum. At the forefront is a group called the Native Jazz Quartet. The members include co-founders Ed Littlefield on drums and Christian Fabian on bass, with Jason Marsalis playing vibes and Reuel Lubag on the piano.

Littlefield grew up in Sitka. His dad is Tlingit and his mom has spent the last 40 years studying and teaching the language. Littlefield started playing music at an early age, and would attend visits to a local elder, Charlie Joseph, with his mother.

"He was a very important man in the revitalization of music and culture in the Tlingit people," Littlefield said.