By Miles Morrisseau
The role of Native American music in the creation of jazz is difficult to define, although one expert considered the connection to be fundamental. Duke Ellington’s sister, Ruth, once said, “All the credit’s gone to the African for the wonderful rhythm in jazz, but I think a lot of it should go to the American Indian.”
For Jim Pepper, the fusion of both was his life’s work and his legacy.
Pepper is credited with forming the first jazz-rock fusion ensemble with his group Free Spirits. His willingness to open up his mind to all the musical influences around him was the foundation of his sound.