Carnivalising the Creative Economy

Mar 14 2014

This 15-minute film, entitled Carnivalising the Creative Economy, was funded by the AHRC and launched at the AHRC Creative Economy Showcase on 12 March 2014 at King’s Place, London.

Led by Professor George McKay, the film brings together academics and festivals directors from 5 recent / current AHRC-funded projects (including Rhythm Changes), who discuss the benefits and findings of such collaboration.

The film was made by Gemma Thorpe

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New Jazz Conceptions: History, Theory, Practice: Saturday 31st May 2014

Mar 13 2014

New Jazz Conceptions: History, Theory, Practice

Saturday 31st May 2014

University of Warwick, UK

Poster (PDF Document) / Provisional Programme (PDF Document) / Booking Form (PDF Document) / Booking Form (Word Document)

Directions and Maps / B&B – on campus / B&B – off campus (Word Document)

In recent years jazz studies has attempted to move beyond the canonical view of jazz as a narrative of great performers within an American context, becoming more interdisciplinary and international in its approach. This one-day conference will bring together Warwick, Midlands and National speakers to discuss current research in jazz, share ideas about methodologies for future study, and explore the link between academics and the practice of jazz in the wider community.

Speakers: Tony WhytonCatherine TackleyAndrew HodgettsRoger MagrawKatherine Williams,Adrian LitvinoffSimon Barber and Vic Hobson (National Jazz Archive)


Organisers: Roger Fagge and Nicolas Pillai

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Transnational Studies in Jazz

Feb 04 2014

RoutledgeWe are delighted to announce the creation of a new monograph series with Routledge entitled ‘Transnational Studies in Jazz’. The series will present interdisciplinary and international perspectives on the relationship between jazz and its social, political, and cultural contexts, as well as providing authors with a platform for rethinking the methodologies and concepts used to analyse jazz’s musical meaning.

We therefore encourage proposals that challenge disciplinary boundaries, that find different ways of telling the story of jazz with or without reference to the United States, and that are sympathetic to jazz as a medium for negotiating global identities. This does not exclude artist biographies or close analysis of musical works, but rather, we ask that authors reconsider how they address their subjects and from what perspective they do so. Transnational Studies in Jazz explores the complex cultural and musical exchanges that have shaped the global development and reception of jazz.

We have launch publications planned for 2015 which include texts on jazz and advertising, post WWII jazz collectives, and the discourses of jazz, but we are now welcoming new proposals for monographs to appear in the series.

We would be delighted to discuss monograph proposals with you and hope you consider placing your work with this exciting new series.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Editors: Tony Whyton ([email protected]) & Nicholas Gebhardt ([email protected])

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

Dec 11 2013


Call for Papers

The Third International Rhythm Changes Conference, hosted by the Conservatory of Amsterdam.  The event is delivered in partnership with the University of Amsterdam, University of Salford, Birmingham City University, Open University, and Amsterdam World Jazz City 2014.

Keynote Speakers

Steven Feld (musician, filmmaker and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Music at the University of New Mexico)

John Gennari (Associate Professor of English and Director, ALANA U.S. Ethnic Studies Program, University of Vermont)


Conference outline

Jazz Beyond Borders (and: Beyond the Borders of Jazz) seeks to critically explore how borders – real and imagined – have shaped, and continue to shape, debates about jazz. Rhythm Changes: Jazz Cultures and European Identities ( sought to question traditional ways of understanding and articulating jazz history and the concept of moving beyond borders – whether geographical or aesthetic – has played a key role in the project’s research strategy.  Borders can be multifaceted and fluid, from geographical boundaries, to disciplinary fields, there can be theoretical or institutional borders, which permeate discourses relating to the cultural, social, political, national and ethnic as well as artistic, performative, canonical, aesthetic, stylistic and genre-related understandings of jazz. Because of the music’s inherent hybridity, jazz provides an excellent lens through which such borders, and border-policing processes, can be questioned and analysed. The music is ideally placed to think about the dividing lines between, for instance, academia and journalism, popular and art music, ‘new jazz studies’ and ‘traditional musicology’, the sonic and the visual, and so forth.

Jazz Beyond Borders is a three day multi-disciplinary conference that brings together leading researchers across the arts and humanities and is the largest event of its kind world-wide. Based on our previous conferences (Amsterdam 2011 and Salford 2013), we expect well over 100 participants.  The Conference committee invites papers and panel proposals that feed into the Conference theme and is interested in featuring perspectives from a range of international contexts.  Although not restricted to specific themes, possible topics could include:

  • Exploring borders: framing, understanding and policing borders; transnational, transcultural, postcolonial, and global perspectives; jazz and its musical others; jazz beyond jazz (jazz as lifestyle from cooking to comedy); genre politics; “frontier” myths; reconfiguring gender, race, ethnicity, disability
  • Challenging binaries: questioning perceived antonyms such as Afrological/Eurological, composition/improvisation, professionals/amateurs, musicians/audiences, theory/practice
  • Jazz historiographies: exploring origins, mythologies, cultural memory, and the different constructions of jazz history
  • (Re-)Mediating jazz: evaluating jazz in film, advertising, literature, art, journalism, criticism
  • Jazz futures: questioning disciplinary boundaries; new directions for jazz research; changing status jazz studies within musicology


The Conference committee welcomes individual papers and proposals for panels and round table discussions.  For individual papers, abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted.  Panels and round table proposals should include a session overview, participant biographies and description of individual contributions.  Abstracts and proposals (as well as event queries) should be sent to Professor Walter van de Leur ([email protected]) by 1 March 2014.


Conference Committee

Walter van de Leur (Chair, Conservatory of Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam), Nicholas Gebhardt (Birmingham City University), George McKay (University of Salford), Loes Rusch (University of Amsterdam), Catherine Tackley (Open University), Tony Whyton (University of Salford)

Steven Feld, the late Guy Warren and afrifone inventor Nii Noi Nortey

Steven Feld, the late Guy Warren and afrifone inventor Nii Noi Nortey


Keynote speaker biographies

Steven Feld is a musician, filmmaker and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Music at the University of New Mexico. His books include Sound and Sentiment and Music Grooves (with Charles Keil). As a jazz trombonist he recorded and performed with Leadbelly Legacy Band, Live Action Brass Band, Tom Guralnick Trio, and Bonefied. Since 2004 he has been studying the spectral presence of jazz in West Africa, represented in a CD, DVD, and book project titled Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra. In addition to documentary work, the Accra project includes performing on ashiwa box bass with the Accra Trane Station trio, dedicated to points of contact between African idioms and the legacy of Coltrane’s later works. Connecting the ATS project to the contemporary Euro-Am jazz scene, ATS collaborated with the Amsterdam-based jazz flute/reed player Alex Coke on the CD Topographies of the Dark.

John Gennari is an American Studies-trained U.S. cultural historian and nonfiction writer with specializations in jazz and popular music studies, Italian American cultural studies, food studies, race and ethnic studies, and cultural criticism. He is the author of Blowin’ Hot and Cool: Jazz and Its Critics (University of Chicago Press, 2006), which won an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for Excellence in Music Criticism and the John Cawelti Award for the Best Book in American Culture. He is currently completing a book examining how practices of expressive ethnicity in music, film, sports, cooking, and eating reconfigure our understanding of Italian American culture. He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University, and the Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia. An active member of the American Studies Association since 1993, he chaired the association’s Gabriel Dissertation Prize committee in 2008, and served on the Romero Book Prize committee in 2010.


Rhythm Changes

This conference builds on the legacy of the Rhythm Changes: Jazz Cultures and European Identities ( research project.  Rhythm Changes was initially funded as part of the Humanities in the European Research Area’s (HERA) first Joint Research programme which ran from 2010 – 2013.  The project team continues to develop networking opportunities and champion collaborative research into transnational jazz studies.

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Beyond A Love Supreme blog

Oct 01 2013

I’ve just published a blog on the Oxford University Press website about the cover of my new book Beyond A Love Supreme: John Coltrane and the Legacy of an Album. Here’s the opening- click on the link below if you want to read more:

Judging a book by its cover: recordings, street art, and John Coltrane

coltrane by MTO
Created by the Berlin-based street artist MTO, a graffiti artwork was painted on a Parisian wall a few years ago and only on display for a few days before being painted over. A few photographs of the image, taken by MTO at the scene, are all that remain of the work. MTO’s image served as a perfect visual manifestation of the issues and strategies at play in my research: a graffiti version of an iconic photograph of John Coltrane which appears on the front of his 1964 album, A Love Supreme.

The influence of recordings is more than just musical or sonic in nature; recordings impact different arts and appear in different cultural contexts. In many ways, they have the potential to alter our view of the places we live in and, in some instances, can change our relationship to history itself. The temporary nature of MTO’s artwork and its subsequent use in photographic form and on the web also mirrors the changes that occur when music is recorded, disseminated, and used in different ways. Just as the recordings themselves can be understood in a number of different ways, these layers of mediation — that is, the channels through which we communicate, or the involvement of third parties in the construction and distribution of meaning — enable A Love Supreme (and other recordings) to take on infinite new lives and meanings.

Read more

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Thinking With Jazz II symposium, Lancaster Jazz Festival, 20 September 2013

Aug 19 2013

Screen shot 2013-08-19 at 11.13.49Thinking With Jazz is a day-long symposium that takes place during the 2013 Lancaster Jazz Festival. This year, our panelists and keynote speakers include John Cumming (London Jazz Festival), Fiona Talkington (BBC Radio 3), Gerry Godley (Twelve Points Festival, Dublin), George McKay (University of Salford), Tim Wall (Birmingham City University), Kristin McGee (University of Groningen), Matt Robinson (Lancaster Jazz Festival), Pete Moser (More Music) and Tony Whyton (University of Salford).

Join them to discuss a range of topics including festivals and social media, spaces and places, funding and programming, and artistic dreams and realities.

In the afternoon there will be an open workshop in which symposium participants collaborate on a Grow Your Own Festival resource. Our aim is to provide festival promoters and arts organisations with ideas and practical tools to design festivals which engage local communities in creative and meaningful ways.

Screen shot 2013-08-19 at 11.14.00

This event is supported by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Enterprise Centre and the Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University.

For further information, please contact [email protected] or [email protected]

The symposium is free to attend, but early registration is necessary, as lunch will be provided. Go to the website here for further information and registration.

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In conversation with Django Bates’ Belovèd

Jul 09 2013

On Sunday 16 June, I hosted a public conversation with Django Bates’ Belovèd before their concert at the Holmfirth Arts Festival in West Yorkshire. Bates was joined on stage by bassist Petter Eldh and drummer Peter Bruun and I started off the conversation with a question about the relationship between place and creativity. We moved from an examination of the differences between festivals and venues – how performing contexts shape the direction of music – to exploring how the Danish jazz scene had led to the formation of the trio. Belovèd formed in Copenhagen during Bates’ time at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory and their Charlie Parker-inspired albums developed out of an event organised by the Copenhagen Jazzhouse.

Beloved with TWDuring the talk, we discussed concepts of inheritance and identity, how the ‘weight of history’ can often hamper the creative process. In my first book, Jazz Icons: Heroes, Myths and the Jazz Tradition, I suggested that official histories of jazz are too fixed in nature and the presence of iconic figures has spawned a number of imitative projects which can be read as too indebted to past masters. Exploring these themes with Belovèd, Bates was keen to stress the difference between love and reverence for an artist, and suggested that this was the key to his success; using Parker’s music as a springboard for his own creativity without feeling restricted by official narratives or expectations about how to draw on music of the past. The trio touched on ways in which working transnationally encourages this kind of thinking.

The conversation moved on to a consideration of what it means to be an artist and a refusal to be pigeonholed and the trio discussed their musical and compositional processes. Bates will be developing the Belovèd project for big band for the BBC Proms in August and the translation of this material has presented a number of challenges for the group. Both Bruun and Eldh have such a close working relationship with Bates, feeding off each other and taking the music in different directions, that the inclusion of additional musicians has led to the need for the clarification of ideas and the sharing of established processes beyond the trio.
Beloved at Holmfirth by Ken DrewWe concluded our discussion by considering the dynamics of cultural influence and the flow of ideas. I asked the trio to reconsider the well trodden idea that creative influences flow in one direction – namely that musicians of the present are influenced by the great masters of the past – and posed the question of how Bates’ music could encourage us to think about the past in different ways. For example, I asked how does Belovèd encourage people to listen again to Charlie Parker with fresh ears and think differently about Parker? Although Bates acknowledged that all our listening is tempered by present values, he suggested that associations with his own music (ranging from compositional complexity to playful humour, from political statement to improvising in the moment) could be used as a strategy for revising our readings of the music of the past.

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Les Circulations Globales du Jazz conference, Paris, 27-28 June

Jun 25 2013

There is a strong Rhythm Changes presence at this international conference at Musee du Quai Branly this week, which sounds right up our street. Tony Whyton, Walter van de Leur, Nick Gebhardt an George McKay are presenting in a panel on the project and its related research…. More information here.

Poster circulations du jazz conference

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Soweto Kinch – The Time and The Place

May 26 2013

Here”s a brief promo from Kings Place featuring Soweto Kinch. Kinch has been working with the HERA-funded SCIBE project (which explores creativity through scarcity in architecture) in developing content and ideas casino jameshallison for his Urban Landscape concert on Friday 31 May.

Visit the Serious website for booking information and more details about The Time and The Place.

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