I'm not an English-lit smarty pants. I wouldn't have known the [w:William Shakespeare|Shakespeare] credit for the delicious phrase "such sweet thunder" were it not for [w:Duke Ellington] and his sweet jazz suite "[http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00000IMYN/104-5731335-8062313?v=glance&n=5174|Such Sweet Thunder]," composed for the Shakespearean Festival in Stratford, Ontario and recorded in 1957.
I first heard this recording when I was about 20. Ellington definitely opened the door to jazz for me and helped me appreciate the creative potential that America itself allows for composers and musicians and other artists.
It seems to me that the Americas offer a place for music from all different parts of the world to meet and mingle. And in the best examples, it happens in an organic and egalitarian way. It's truly exciting how music melds and morphs around the world and holds it together.
As I write this I'm listening to [http://www.wrasserecords.com/artists/info/50.html?AddInterest=1010|Daara J], a Senegalese rap group. On track 2, titled "Esperanza," of their 1998 album Xalima, they sing in Spanish and rap in French, blending salsa with hip-hop. They are an awesome group. Definitely check them out. And while you're at it, give Duke's Such Sweet Thunder a listen.