“Pascal Bokar, who grew up in Mali and Senegal before moving to San Francisco, personally has experienced the similarities between West African and American music. And in his career as a guitarist, composer, club owner and music professor at University of San Francisco, he fuses American jazz with its origins by adding African rhythms to standards from the 1940s and ’50s.
“In order to understand how American music was formed, you have to understand the demographics,” says Bokar, who hosts and performs in special Valentine’s Day and Black History Month events in February at Savanna Jazz, his club in the Mission.
Bokar, who has traced the roots of American popular music to influences from West Africans brought over during the slave trade, says, “The oldest American instrument is from Mali; it’s the banjo. This is a part of American history that people don’t like to talk about, but music doesn’t lie.”“