Founded in 2009 as the BYU-Hawai‘i Faculty World Improv Ensemble, Crosscurrent seeks to explore the world’s rich improvisatory traditions while providing collaborative performance opportunities for our students and other associates in the larger Pacific Island musical community. We aspire to showcase as much Pacific Island music as possible, sharing with a broader audience the richness of this cultural heritage. The name Crosscurrent underscores both our location within the Pacific Basin and the musical navigation we seek to undertake.
How 'Pacific Tinge' came to be:
In a historic Library of Congress recording, legendary jazz pianist Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton described a ‘Spanish Tinge’ in early New Orleans jazz. He was referring to Afro-Caribbean influences in the music of that era, with ‘Spanish’ used at that time generically to describe any element of a Spanish-speaking culture. While subtly manifested in the early twentieth century, the hybridity of North American jazz and Latin American music became much more overt in the 1930s (and beyond) as Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican music became popular on the U.S. mainland. It would be impossible to chart the trajectory of jazz in the latter half of the twentieth century without acknowledging the profound effect of Caribbean cultures and their music, already an amalgam of African and European musical elements.
It was our aim to similarly incorporate indigenous Pacific instruments and stylistic influences into the musical fusion that constitutes contemporary jazz. In this recording project we were able to infuse musical elements from the Cook Islands, Hawai‘i, Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga—a good start in our quest to make Pacific Island music part of the ever-expanding international language of jazz.