University of Rochester

EVENT: Lecture on Latin sounds that shaped American music by John Storm Roberts, international authority on world music

TIME, DATE, AND PLACE: 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, in the Welles-Brown Room of Rush Rhees Library on the University of Rochester's River Campus

ADMISSION: Free and open to the public

January 9, 2003

An astute writer known for his command of world music, John Storm Roberts will describe and connect the Latin "tinge" in American ragtime and jazz when he speaks at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, as the first Neilly Series lecturer for 2003.

Roberts will play recorded musical accompaniment to develop his topic of "Gestating Jazz: The Mexican Tour of 1885" in the Welles-Brown Room of Rush Rhees Library on the University of Rochester's River Campus. His presentation is another in the continuing Neilly Series of prominent guest speakers in the arts and sciences. All programs are sponsored by the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Endowed Fund of the University of Rochester River Campus Libraries and are free to the public.

Since the late 1940s, Roberts has listened to music that originated far from popular Western tastes and interests of the time. He began writing about music in 1964, and has documented and promoted music from countries worldwide through recordings and on the printed page. He studied languages at Oxford University, and invested years of work on African music and its relationship to American blues and rock.

His 1979 book, The Latin Tinge: The Impact of Latin American Music on the United States, examined the major influences of Latin styles on all forms of U.S. popular music. In recent years, the book's second edition and related volumes, such as Latin Jazz: The First of Fusion, 1900-Today, mark Roberts as an international authority in Latin music and other musical categories. He is the author of Black Music of Two Worlds, Revised, which investigates the influence of African music on musical styles such as traditional folk, blues, reggae, and rap. Other commentaries by him appear in books, periodicals, monographs, and encyclopedias.

Roberts' research and writings are applauded for giving music a sociocultural context. In 1982, he founded a company called Original Music with its record label and catalog. For 15 years, he selected all of the records and wrote the descriptive notes. "More than almost anything else I have done," he said, "this has given me a detailed and comprehensive knowledge of music and musicians from every part of the world."

For more information about this lecture and the Neilly Series, contact (585) 275-4461.