Planning for the Rhythm Changes 2016 conference, Birmingham City University, UK

Feb 03 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.37.40A group of us from across Europe are meeting today to look back on the previous three Rhythm Changes conferences (Amsterdam 2012, Salford 2013, Amsterdam 2014) and to plan for our next conference in 2016 at, as we announced in Amsterdam last September, Birmingham City University.  You coming to it? We hope so.

The organising committee is:

  • Dr Nick Gebhardt, BCU (lead organiser)
  • Prof Walter van de Leur, Amsterdam
  • Dr Loes Rusch, Amsterdam
  • Dr Christa Bruckner-Haring, Graz
  • Prof Tony Whyton, Salford
  • Prof George McKay, UEA
  • Dr Catherine Tackley, Open University.
RC2016 organising committee meeting, BCU

RC2016 organising committee meeting, BCU, 3 February 2015

We are talking about the theme(s) for the 2016 conference, its structure, how to  present jazz ideas in traditional and alternative ways, how BCU’s disciplinary and intellectual identity (media – music – industry) could be reflected as host of the event, potential keynotes and invited speakers, and the specific dates of course. (Early-mid-April 2016 seems most favoured at the moment.)

Some ideas for our theme and key strands we are discussing are as follows (bear in mind these are in draft and need working up, but we thought you might like a sneak preview):

Jazz Utopia

  • jazz identity/ies. Race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality (queering jazz, Sapphonics), disability and jazz.
  • inside / outside: jazz and its others. What does jazz mean to its community of insiders and those that approach it from outside?
  • heritage and archiving. The ways in which our relationship with the past enables us to imagine and construct jazz as an alternative space and practice.

What do you think? Be the first to have your say here.

Professor in Residence, EFG London Jazz Festival 2014

Oct 23 2014

lnodon jazz fest 2014 logo[PRESS RELEASE]


Professor George McKay is the first academic ever to be appointed ‘Professor in Residence’ at a jazz festival.

In conjunction with Serious and the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Professor McKay will be joining the team of the EFG London Jazz Festival on 1 November 2014.

‘I’m delighted to be the first Professor in Residence at the EFG London Jazz Festival. Allow me to introduce myself: I’m George McKay, Professor of Media Studies at the University of East Anglia and I’m also currently an Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Leadership Fellow for one of its priority areas, the Connected Communities Programme. My books include Radical Gardening (2011), Shakin’ All Over: Popular Music & Disability (2013) and a collection called The Pop Festival (2015). But you’ll probably be most interested in Circular Breathing: The Cultural Politics of Jazz In Britain (2005), a book about the development of jazz, free improvisation, political campaigns, New Orleans-style marching bands, questions of race and gender in this music of ‘liberation’. I’ve followed up recently with some more work on the neglected 1950s Trinidadian pianist Winnie Atwell.

One of my focuses in terms of Connected Communities is the idea of festival – how does this density and intensity of cultural activity transform its environment (whether that’s tents and soundsystems in a field or trumpets in a city street), and what is the impact on the local population and audiences.  

But why should the EFG London Jazz Festival appoint a Professor in Residence right now?  There’s been a real explosion of interest in what’s being called the New Jazz Studies from UK academics over the past decade. In terms of British jazz, academic books by Catherine Tackley, Hilary Moore, and me, have all explored the contribution of the UK to jazz development and history. Jazz Research Journal, edited by Tackley and Tony Whyton, publishes quality research by international scholars.  A new Routledge series, Transnational Jazz Studies, is edited by Whyton and Nick Gebhardt.

And there have been notable major research projects, like Rhythm Changes: (EU-funded, led from Salford University) and What Is Black British Jazz? (AHRC; Open University). AHRC currently funds a PhD student, Alison Eales, looking at the 25-year history of Glasgow Jazz Festival, co-supervised between the festival and Glasgow University.  You can watch a great film made this year about researching jazz festivals on Youtube: Tom Perchard of Goldsmiths was awarded an AHRC Early Career Fellowship for a project entitled Jazz in France, 1934-75. At the moment my university is in the process of appointing a one-year AHRC postdoctoral research assistant working across London and other jazz festivals, looking at their impact and value. 

So, working with the EFG London Jazz Festival team, we thought it a good idea to try to bring some of this academic energy and insight around jazz to festival-goers. We’ve built on some work from last year, when we marked London’s 21st birthday with a day of talks at the Royal Festival Hall, and curated a programme of discussions around questions of politics, power and history. For a music that talks a lot about freedom, these are key questions to debate, and we’re bringing together academics, and some critics and musicians, to unpack them and to explore the roles that jazz musicians, activists and cultural workers in Britain have had in making their musical and political mark. Please, do join us.’

Prof George McKay

Full talks programme listings

All talks are free

Saturday 15 November 

South Africa 20 years on and the legacy of the Blue Notes: Southbank Centre / Front Room 12.45 & 3.30pm

Knife in the Water – discussion about the music of the film’s charismatic composer, Krzysztof Komeda: Barbican Cinema, 3pm

Way in to the Way Out: Arun Ghosh and Zoe Rahman (Part 1): Southbank Centre / Front Room 4.30pm

Sunday 16 November

Jazz Record Requests with Alyn Shipton: Barbican FreeStage 2pm

Way in to the Way Out: Arun Ghosh and Zoe Rahman (Part 2): Southbank Centre / Front Room 4.30pm

Tuesday 18 November

The Art and the Value of Commissioning New Music – with Trish Clowes and Guy Barker: Southbank Centre / Queen Elizabeth Hall 6pm

Wednesday 19 November 

Jazz Rants: The Jazz Industry and The Creative Economy: Club Inégales 7pm

Thursday 20 November

Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya – Stefano Bollani: Barbican 6.30pm

Friday 21 November

Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya – Kenny Barron & Dave Holland: Southbank Centre / Queen Elizabeth Hall 6.30pm

Saturday 22 November

Improvisation and action – the legacy of John Stevens: Southbank Centre / Front Room 2pm

‘the space is the place’ : the art of programming: Barbican 5.30pm

Blue Note at 75 – Don Was meets Richard Havers: Southbank Centre / Level 5 Function Room 6pm

Sunday 23 November

Jazz and Gender: Southbank Centre / Front Room 12.45pm

For full details visit



Please contact Sally Reeves  +44 (0)1223 864710 | +44 (0)7790 518756 |  [email protected]

Issued by Piers Mason at Serious  +44 (0)20 7324 1880 | [email protected]
For information on all EFG London Jazz Festival shows please go to

The EFG London Jazz Festival is produced by Serious, one of the UK’s leading producers and curators of live jazz, international and new music. Serious produces events that range from major concerts, festivals and national and international tours through to learning and participation programmes, conferences and specially commissioned bespoke events. Alongside its core role as a live music events producer, it works in artist and rights management. Alongside this exists the registered charity, Serious Trust, which has been established to support the next generation of artists and audiences through our artist development, learning and participation and commissioning programmes

The London Jazz Festival was created in 1992 by live international music producers, Serious. The Festival emerged from the long-standing Camden Jazz Week which was created in 1970; with the active support of the London Arts Board (now Arts Council England, London). Serious – who had for some years produced the Camden Jazz Week, engineered a transition that saw the evolution of the Festival.  Taking a mix of international and British artists and a commitment to education activity, the London Jazz Festival began to spread its wings. The aims of the Festival still remain the same today; celebrating the place of jazz in a city which is at ease with its rich cultural diversity, and drawing in a multitude of venues across London who present the music, week in, week out, throughout the year.

EFG International is a global private banking group offering private banking and asset management services, headquartered in Zurich. EFG International’s group of private banking businesses operates in around 30 locations worldwide, with circa 2,000 employees. EFG International’s registered shares (EFGN) are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange. It is represented in the UK by EFG Private Bank, which offers a range of wealth management services in the UK (with offices in London and the Midlands) and Channel Islands.
Practitioners of the craft of private banking:

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.16.08

What do you think? Be the first to have your say here.

New study on Black British Jazz

Oct 07 2014

BBJ cover imageGeorge McKay writes: I’m very pleased to be part of a notable new book, Black British Jazz: Routes, Ownership and Performance, edited by Jason Toynbee, Catherine Tackley (co-organiser of our wonderful RC2014 conference in Amsterdam) and Mark Doffman, in which I go back to look again at the 1950s pianist, chart-topper, and television presenter, Winifred Atwell. My chapter is called ‘Winifred Atwell and her “other piano”: 16 hit singles and “a blanket of silence”, sounding the limits of jazz’. You can find information about all the chapters for the entire collection at the Black British Jazz contents page, while below is the book’s blurb:

Black British musicians have been making jazz since around 1920 when the genre first arrived in Britain. This groundbreaking book reveals their hidden history and major contribution to the development of jazz in the UK. More than this, though, the chapters show the importance of black British jazz in terms of musical hybridity and the cultural significance of race. Decades before Steel Pulse, Soul II Soul, or Dizzee Rascal pushed their way into the mainstream, black British musicians were playing jazz in venues up and down the country from dance halls to tiny clubs. In an important sense, then, black British jazz demonstrates the crucial importance of musical migration in the musical history of the nation, and the links between popular and avant-garde forms. But the volume also provides a case study in how music of the African diaspora reverberates around the world, beyond the shores of the USA—the engine-house of global black music. As such it will engage scholars of music and cultural studies not only in Britain, but across the world.

And here is a link to the Google Book version of the collection (but do buy it / order it for your library):

[Extract from introduction to George’s chapter] … From Tunapuna, Trinidad, Winifred Atwell (c. 1914-1983) was a classically trained ragtime and boogie-woogie style pianist who gained quite remarkable popularity in Britain, and later also Australia, in the 1950s, in live and recorded music, as well as in the developing television industry. In this chapter I outline her extraordinary international musical biography as a chart-topping pop and television star—innovative achievements for a black migrant female musician which are arguably thrown into more dramatic light by virtue of the fact that Atwell has been Wiinifred Atwell and her 'other piano' with rhythm accompaniment (no. 1, 1954)and remains a neglected figure in media and popular music (let alone jazz) history. I pay particular attention to her performative tactics and repertoire, developing material I introduced first in Circular Breathing: The Cultural Politics of Jazz in Britain. But our interest in Atwell should stem not only from her position as a significant figure neglected by history, for she speaks also to definitional issues of jazz. The chapter progresses into a discussion of the extent to which Atwell is a limit case of jazz in the developing pop world of the 1950s on….

Atwell topped the British singles charts twice, with 14 other top-30 singles during the 1950s, and she was also the first black million-selling singles artist in British pop history. Most of these achievements were the result of her playing jazz-derived instrumental music (solo or with a trio or quartet: piano-guitar-bass-drums). (Here you can read an interview I did with her drummer from the period, Colin Bailey.) Hers was a striking early example of a multiplatform media and music success: prestigious live performances and international tours, hit records, pop-jazz and classical repertoires, radio broadcasts, sheet music and piano instruction book sales, television presenter fronting her own series (on both main British channels and in Australia), and film appearances on screen and in the soundtrack….

What do you think? Be the first to have your say here.

Jazz Beyond Borders Conference 4-7 September 2014, Conservatory of Amsterdam

Aug 29 2014

conference_logo395 papers and talks about jazz … are you coming? If by any chance you can’t make it to Amsterdam, you can keep in touch with, and contribute to, the twitter conversation via the hashtag or sharp symbol #rcjazz2014….

Keynotes from Steven Feld

…and John Gennari

Blowin' Hot and Cool

…performances and films

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International symposium: Jazz Cosmopolitanism from East to West

Jul 21 2014

Chinese Flag
Jazz Cosmopolitanism from East to West is 3 day symposium hosted by Ningbo University College of Arts in partnership with the School of Arts & Media, University of Salford.

Date and Location
9-12 January 2015, Ningbo University College of Arts, Ningbo, China

Call for Papers

“Jazz is so much more than music: it is a lifestyle and a tool for dialogue, even social change. The history of jazz tells of the power of music to bring together artists from different cultures and backgrounds, as a driver of integration and mutual respect.” Irina Bokova, Director General, UNESCO

Jazz Cosmopolitanism from East to West will focus on jazz as both a national and transnational cultural practice, comparing the uses and representations of music in different international contexts in order to explore questions relating to the development, assimilation, appropriation, and exchange of culture. Jazz plays a complex role in the cultural and sub-cultural life of different international scenes and this event will examine ways in which jazz scholars, musicians and fans interpret and interact with the music, the ways in which jazz networks are constructed and established in various cultures, how music is translated, and serves as a driver for social and cultural change. Jazz Cosmopolitanism from East to West will investigate ways in which the music can challenge established stereotypical distinctions between national settings and regions, including concepts of East and West.
The organising committee welcomes proposals for presentations which focus specifically on the following themes:

• Jazz as a tool for social change and/or cultural understanding
• The relationship between jazz, national cultural values, and transnational influences
• Jazz in translation: the cultural meanings of jazz in different international settings
Challenging dominant representations of jazz as evidenced in the attitudes and practices of critics, musicians and audiences as well as representations in film, television and literature. This could include the exploration of established mythologies and stereotypes distinctions between East and West

Conference organisers
Professor Yu Hui (Ningbo University College of Arts)
Professor Tony Whyton (School of Arts & Media, University of Salford)

Deadline for proposals
12 September 2014

Proposals of c.300 words should be sent to Professors Yu Hui ([email protected]) and Tony Whyton ([email protected])

English / Chinese

Accommodation / Fees
There will be no conference fee but travel, accommodation and subsistence costs must be met by individual participants. The symposium host will provide a limited accommodation allowance and one-day free local sightseeing for international participants.

Ningbo City
Ningbo is a seaport city in the northeast of Zhejiang province, China,holding sub-provincial administrative status with a population of 7.6 million. It is one of China’s oldest cities, with a history dating to the Hemudu culture in 4800 BC. The city was known as a trade city on the silk road at least two thousand years ago, and then as a major port for foreign trade since the Tang Dynasty. It enjoys both historical culture atmosphere and the dynamic economic development of modern China.

What do you think? Be the first to have your say here.

Congratulations to Dr Tom Sykes

Jul 18 2014

At the University of Salford graduation ceremony yesterday at The Lowry, Salford Quays, UK, Dr Tom Sykes, a PhD student on the original Rhythm Changes project, was awarded his PhD.  Tom’s thesis is entitled Jazz for the I-Pod Generation. Here he is receiving his award. Many congratulations, Dr Sykes. You can view the ceremony here.

Tom Sykes PhD 2014

What do you think? We have one response so far. Click to have your say here.

Profs Tony Whyton and George McKay win University of Salford research excellence award for Rhythm Changes project

Jun 21 2014

We’re delighted to announce that, at the annual University Day celebration this week, Profs Tony Whyton and George McKay won the University of Salford’s Vice-Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award for 2014. This was for the Rhythm Changes: European Jazz and National Identities research project (2010-13), that brilliantly stimulating and massively creative and fun three-year jazz jaunt, caravanserai, parade, around the New (Euro-)Jazz Studies, with partners from Graz, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Birmingham, and Stavanger, musicians, artists, festivals, academics, archivists. Yes, that project was an absolute blast—and it’s still going of course, for we have the 3rd international Rhythm Changes conference, Beyond Jazz Borders, this September at Amsterdam Conservatory to look forward to.

It’s great to get such recognition from Salford, the university that led the project. Here’s what the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Martin Hall (left, in photo below) , had to say at University Day, which was attended by 400 colleagues from across the institution.

The University of Salford is nothing without its people. Everyone has a part to play in making the University … the vibrant, pioneering and, above all, warm and welcoming institution that it is. Without you, this University would be little more than bricks and mortar. It is you who bring these buildings to life with your passion, your endless enthusiasm, your dreams, your focus on our students, your curiosity, thirst for knowledge, the need to find answers and a desire to change lives.

VC Award Salford with Tony Whyton

Not only popular in jazz Asterdame but also games on this website.

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Carnivalising Pop: Music Festival Cultures symposium programme, Salford UK, 13 June 2014

Jun 06 2014

salford_logoHere is the finalised programme for the symposium, which includes jazz festivals and several contributions from the Rhythm Changes team. Further information, including directions and registration information, is here.

Friday 13 June 2014, The Old Fire Station, University of Salford

9:30 – 9:50           Arrival and Coffee

9:50 – 10:00        Welcome and introduction – Professor George McKay, University of Salford

10:00 – 10:45      Keynote 1           Dr Gina Arnold, Stanford University
Race, space, and representation at American rock festivals

10:45 – 12:15      Session 1             Aspects of and developments in festival culture

Dr Nicholas Gebhardt, Birmingham City University
Rock festivals of the transatlantic counterculture

Dr Anne Dvinge, University of Copenhagen
Musicking in Motor City: reconfiguring urban space at the Detroit Jazz Festival

Dr Roxanne Yeganegy, Leeds Metropolitan University
No Spectators! Burning Man, boutique festivals and the art of participation

12:15 – 1:00        Lunch   

Includes screening of short film, Carnivalising the Creative Economy: AHRC-funded Research on and with British Jazz Festivals (dir. Gemma Thorpe, 2014)

1:00 – 2:30           Session 2             Mediating, Performing and Technologising the Festival

Dr Mark Goodall, University of Bradford

Out of Sight: the mediation of the music festival
Dr Rebekka Kill, Leeds Metropolitan University
The artist at the music festival: visual art, performance and hybridity 

Dr Andrew Dubber, Birmingham City University
Music Technologism: innovation, collaboration and participation at the festival of music ideas

2:30 – 3:15           Keynote 2           Alan Lodge, veteran festivals photographer and travellers activist

Discussion and showing of some key photographs of festivals, New Travellers and alternative culture in Britain since the late 1970s

3:15 – 3:30           Coffee Break

3:30 – 4:15           Session 3             How to Make a Popular Music Festival

Ben Robinson, director, Kendal Calling festival

Danny Hagan, co-founder, Green Man festival

4:15 – 5:45           Session 4             From Festivals to Arenas

Professor Robert Kronenburg, University of Liverpool
From Shed to Venue: The Architecture of Popular Music Performance

Dr Emma Webster, Oxford Brookes University
The role of promoters at arena shows: a case study of Stereophonics at Glasgow’s SECC arena

Dr Ben Halligan, University of Salford
Skanky Shamanism: Sensual Audience Participation and the Miley Cyrus “Bangerz” Arena Tour

5:45 – 6:00pm    Close

What do you think? Be the first to have your say here.

Downtown New York Jazz Symposium

May 15 2014

Downtown New York Jazz

Library of Birmingham, Heritage Learning Space

Thursday 5 June 2014

Free Entry




Ed McKeon (Director, Frontiers Festival)

11 am – 11:45 am

WIS (aka Warren Smith) in conversation with Rhys Chatham

12pm – 12:30pm

Professor Tim Wall (Birmingham City University)

“Jazz in Manhattan’s Lofts in the 1970s: David Murray, new jazz and its contribution to the founding of the Downtown Scene”

12:30pm – 1:30pm

Lunch (not provided)

1:30pm – 2pm

Dr. Kirsten Forkert (Birmingham City University)

“The Lower East Side and the politics of real estate”

2:15pm – 2:45pm

Tony Dudley-Evans (Jazzlines)

“Tim Berne: his role in the Downtown and Brooklyn scene.”

3pm – 3:30pm

Dr. Roger Fagge (University of Warwick)

”MacDougal Street Blues': Jack Kerouac and Jazz Performance’.

3:45pm – 4:15pm

Dr. Nicholas Gebhardt (Birmingham City University)

“Friends and Neighbors: living with jazz”



This event is supported by the Library of Birmingham, Birmingham Conservatoire and the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research. It forms part of the Frontiers Festival: Extraordinary Music from Downtown New York & Birmingham

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