The fusion of the music from three differente countries, Jamaica, Cuba and New Orleans would transform the progression of afroamerican music forever a step further from its bluesy and jazzy origins.
During the middle to later part of the 19th century, many Jamaican slaves were transported by the British to the Central American countries of Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica to work as temporary laborers. They returned to Jamaica with the Latin Rhythms of samba, merengue and rumba.
During the same period, Jamaican travails to Cuba brought back influences from the Son rhythm.
The Jamaican rhumba box, a bass instrument with plucked metal lamellae, originated from the Cuban marimbula.
Most popular music up to the late 30s in Jamaica were a blend of Caribbean and Latin rhythms known as Mento, which came straight from the Trinidad's Calypso rhythm. Because of the minimal white presence in the island, Mento received few European musical influences.
Mento musicians were quick to adopt the R&B styling because of its 'smooth rolling rhythms'.
However, towards the end of the 1950s, local musicians began to fuse native Mento rhythms with the popular imported style to create music termed Ska.
Jamaicans, Cubans and people from New Orleans were continuously listen to each other's radios stations because of its geographical proximity and exerting influence on each other all the time.
Cuban havaneras and son, and New Orleans' R&B and early boogie boogie and afroamerican funk, alongside with Mento music would then have been a main influence exerted on Jamaicans to create 'Ska music'.
Its easy to understand the influence of boogie woogie in Jamaican Ska, as Jamaicans were trying to play it at the time, but developed a special technique by focusing only on the off-beat of it, an early boogie woogie marking the off-beat:
A particular Cuban havanera to reinforce the AfroLatin influence on Mento and therefore on Jamaican music at the time:
Another tremendous R&B hit by Johnny guitar Watson, were the influence of the off-beat is highly remarked:
Soon Ska would turn into Rocksteady, which then turned into Reggae, a more popish version of Ska and Rocksteady nowadays known as the most popular source of music in Jamaica.
CUBAN AND NEW ORLEANS MUSIC.
Taken as a group the danza, the danzon, and the son in Cuba cover roughly the same period as pre-ragtime, ragtime and jazz cover in New Orleans. Additionally the same type of debate rages on about the true ethnic origins of Cuban music that constantly surfaces concerning the origins of New Orleans music.
Only 694 miles separate New Orleans from Havana, and until 35 years ago, they were also located along the same trade routes.
There was eraly Cuban immigration to New Orleans; the first significant came in 1809.
This group was actually refugees from the French colony of Saint-Domingue (later Haiti) that first sought asylum in Cuba in 1803 as a result of the power struggle in Saint-Domingue, the 'Haitian Slave Uprising' from 1791 to 1804