Illuminating the influence of West African music, theory, and culture in American music traditions, and through this illumination, encouraging the academic success and advancement of West African scholars, students, and musicians.


West African music is among the oldest on our planet, with a rich and varied history. The Mande musical traditions of West Africa are considered some of the most influential and intricate of all of Sub-Saharan African music. Additionally, modern research methods have unveiled very specific information showing the Mande musical traditions as cultural cornerstone of southern U.S. regions which later became hubs for the creation of jazz and the blues.

The Cradle of Jazz Project (CoJP) aims to broaden the scope of jazz history by demonstrating the strength of its roots in the Mande music of West Africa.

  •  The inclusion of West African music theory in the teaching of jazz history will give the Western musician: new experiences of synchronicity with other musicians, more freedom in improvisation, and fresh perspectives on the interplay of melody and rhythm.
  • Musical restitution will be manifested as Jazz history replaces its current vague nod to African roots with specific teachings in history, migration, and the previously unacknowledged merging of two distinct music theories.


In West Africa, there is an acknowledged cultural crisis for the artisan child between traditional hereditary artisan training and formal, government-mandated schooling. An effect of the conflict is that the artist who has forsaken modern schooling to learn her craft finds bias against her stable success in the Western world. Opportunities for teaching become limited to brief residencies instead of long-term contracts, and self-management is difficult. The Cradle of Jazz Project intends to improve the chances of true global success for the next generation of Mali and Guinea’s cultural ambassadors, by delivering a bi-musical education which is also strongly academic.

Our Executive Director Julie Moore is a certified Suzuki music instructor who has proven herself capable of bringing bi-musical education to Project-sponsored students in West Africa. With her ground-breaking work introducing Western music theory to impoverished urban youth in Mali in 2011, Julie became the first person to bring Suzuki music education to West Africa. The Suzuki music method is rooted in positive development of the whole student. Our education program will provide a place in Mali where a child’s potential as a student and a young artisan will flourish. Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, founder of the Suzuki learning method, said “I want – if I can – to get education changed from mere instruction to education in the real sense of the word – education that inculcates, brings out, develops the human potential, based on the growing life of the child.”

Through offering long-term primary and secondary education programs in artisan communities in Mali, young West African artisans will graduate from our program with offers of full scholarships from partnering U.S. universities.


We recognize our sponsored students and artists as whole people, part of local communities, and therefore will include the provision of basic health care for program participants who reside in Africa, as well as supporting activities which will improve the health and safety of their African communities.

  • Our Global Health Director Elke Bachmann (CNM, MSN, Faculty, Midwifery Program, Yale School of Nursing) will deliver sustainable, long-term health and education support to West African communities, with a focus on Mali and Guinea. The aunts, mothers, and big sisters of students sponsored by Cradle of Jazz Project will be formed into community health co-ops. Elke will offer opportunities to Yale student midwives support this co-op, and will ally herself with local hospital systems, whose doctors will in turn make themselves available in critical situations to the Cradle of Jazz Project co-op women.

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