How National Jazz Agencies use the internet

Jul 03 2012 Published by under News

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I’ve been doing some research into the ways in which different national jazz agencies around Europe use the internet as part of what they do.

At the 2011 Jazzahead conference, I interviewed delegates representing music centres and national jazz agencies from the UK, Netherlands, Slovenia, Iceland, France, Hungary, Finland, Estonia, Catalonia, Denmark, Belgium, Norway and Sweden. From those interviews, I was able to discern a number of shared concerns, overlapping strategies and common goals and approaches that these organisations have used to think about their online offerings.

While each national agency is essentially interested in the promotion and propagation of the jazz music of their own country, this basic commonality of intent is not uniformly reflected in the strategies each brings to the Internet in order to achieve that aim. In fact, in many ways, the approaches differ substantially. In part, this is attributable to the various differences in the cultural, economic and political objectives that underpin the activities of these organisations, but it also reflects differences in audience demographic profiles, access to financial, technical and human resources to develop the online offerings and the levels of online experience (and interest) staff members of the organisation possess.

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Rhythm Changes Conference 2013

Jun 14 2012 Published by under News

Call for Papers
Rhythm Changes II: Rethinking Jazz Cultures
11-14 April 2013, Media City UK/University of Salford
An international conference hosted by the Rhythm Changes research project at the University of Salford.

Keynote Speakers
E. Taylor Atkins, Northern Illinois University
David Ake, University of Nevada, Reno

‘From its beginnings, jazz has presented a somewhat contradictory social world: Jazz musicians have worked diligently to tear down old boundaries, but they have just as resolutely constructed new ones; jazz provided one of the first locations of successful interracial cooperation in America, yet it has also served to perpetuate negative stereotypes and to incite racial unrest.’ Continue Reading »

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Call for papers: JRJ special issue on jazz collectives

Jan 14 2011 Published by under Events, News

Call for Papers: Jazz Research Journal special issue on jazz collectives

(Guest-editor: Nicholas Gebhardt)

Globe Unity Orchestra, 1975 by Gerard Rouy

The interdisciplinary Jazz Research Journal invites contributors to a special issue on post-World War II jazz collectives. The aim of this issue is to explore the various ways in which collectives such as the Jazz Composer’s Guild in New York, the A.A.C.M. in Chicago or the Globe Unity Orchestra in Berlin opened up new possibilities for making music and redefining the relationship between jazz musicians and their audiences.

Although not restricted to specific themes, possible topics could include:

  • The collective as social, political, or cultural phenomenon
  • Performance practices
  • The history of specific collectives
  • Community music
  • The relation of improvisation to composition
  • The role of collectives in recording, radio and publishing
  • The artist-audience relationship
  • Organizers and activists
  • The politics of venues
  • The artist-business relationship
  • Collectives and jazz education
  • Theories of collectivity
  • Mobility and cultural exchange
  • Trans-national practices/theories

 

If you are interested in contributing an essay, interview, or review please email a short proposal to [email protected].

Deadline for proposals: 4 March 2011

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Rhythm Changes at the London Jazz Festival

Nov 24 2010 Published by under Events, News

Rhythm Changes hosted its first UK public event on Sunday 21 November as part of the London Jazz Festival.  The event, a panel discussion entitled ‘Another Place?  Why Jazz Festivals Matter’, included contributions from John Cumming (Serious/London Jazz Festival), Tony Dudley-Evans (Birmingham Jazz/Cheltenham Jazz Festival) and Hannibal Saad (Jazz Lives in Syria) alongside Anne Dvinge and Tony Whyton from the Rhythm Changes team.

Taking place at the Barbican Centre in London, the panel attracted an engaged and knowledgeable audience ranging from international festival directors to jazz journalists, writers and jazz advocates to enthusiasts, and the discussion focused on the contribution that festivals make to the creative economy in Europe and beyond.

The panel discussed how festivals can provide a celebration of place and encourage innovative programming and also gave examples of jazz as a catalyst for social change.  John Cumming, for example, discussed the way in which the London Jazz Festival had expanded its reach in recent years to encourage new communities to participate in festival events and also described the scene in Istanbul, where a jazz festival and venue had transformed part of the city through creative programming.

The panel addressed the relationship between year round programming and festivals programming, and also talked about the way in which festivals relate to a sense of cultural memory (for example through using established venues and tapping into the legacy of previous events) at the same time as offering musicians and audiences visions of the future.  The audience responded enthusiastically to the notion that jazz offered a model for celebrating diversity and cultural hybridity, and the panel concluded with a lively question and answer session where the audience exchanged ideas and experiences.

As Rhythm Changes first Knowledge Transfer forum, Another Place? Why Jazz Festivals Matter demonstrated the relevance of the project’s research questions which explore the changing Europe and the value of jazz as a transformative force.  As Anne Dvinge stated, jazz is a conversational medium that, in certain contexts, has the ability to offer alternative notions of place and identity.  Anne described the way in which jazz festivals offer audiences a means of encountering things that are outside their everyday experience and also argued that the view of jazz as ‘high brow’ (or difficult) did not play out in reality once audiences engage with the music first hand.  Festivals in particular can encourage people to take risks or to sample things that are unfamiliar; in this respect, jazz festivals really do offer access to another place where people can feel differently about both the music and their environment.

Click below to hear an audio recording of the event:
Another Place? Why Jazz Festivals Matter by Tony Whyton

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Indigenising jazz spaces: The Old Duke, Bristol, UK

Oct 16 2010 Published by under Events

Bristol in  the West Country is a noted stronghold of jazz practice in Britain–from, for instance, Acker Bilk (cl, trad) to Keith Tippett (p, free) and Andy Sheppard (ts, ss, contemporary). This famous local pub has struck me as an interesting spatial example of the way jazz is indigenised, if you like (not sure I do entirely),  has been adopted and adapted to the national cultural  practice. The dominant masculine space of the English pub has been one of those where jazz has happened (in Circular Breathing I suggested that the pub as jazz venue was one reason for jazz’s predominant masculinity in Britain)–so the very space of the traditional British pub was re-sounded by jazz in the 20th century. It’s worth remembering that a key space often referenced in British jazz histories for the development of the music was the Red Barn, Chislehurst, Kent, birthplace of George Webb’s Dixielanders.

But The Old Duke in a historic quarter of Bristol is more than that. Most pubs in Britain that are The Old Duke, or the Duke, are I think because historically they commemorate the military achievements of the Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The Old Duke has taken that English tradition of pub-naming–and of imperial history–and recontextualised it, subverted it, even signified it maybe.  (How signifyingly clever that the Dukes’ names are so very similar: W/Ellington!) After all, Bristol was a port the wealth of which was predicated in the 18th century on the triangulation trade, including the slave trade, and The Old Duke is by the Docks. So here at The Old Duke, as befits a jazz space,  a portrait of a white imperial old world hero (the Duke of Wellington) is replaced by one of a black transnational new world hero (Duke Ellington). In terms of cultural identity, Europe and America, history and modernity, jazz and public pleasure, The Old Duke fascinates.

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Another Place? Why Jazz Festivals Matter

Sep 26 2010 Published by under Events

Join us for ’Another Place? Why Jazz Festivals Matter’ at the London Jazz Festival 2010.  The public event, held at the Barbican Centre in London on 21 November, will be the first of five Rhythm Changes panels designed to explore key research questions with industry professionals. The event listing can be found at:
http://www.londonjazzfestival.org.uk/events/2010-11-21/another-place-why-jazz-festivals-matter
More details to follow once the panel line up has been confirmed…

 

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Festivals and the dynamics of culture

Jun 29 2010 Published by under Events

During the Live! Singapore event in June, I participated in some interesting panels with international festival organisers and arts professionals on the state of jazz.  During the event, it became clear to me how timely the Rhythm Changes project is and how the project research questions tie into so many issues that are of direct relevance to jazz programmers today.  For example, how jazz festivals and venues feed into the transformation of scenes and societies, how they can reinforce a sense of civic pride, how jazz events can act as a catalyst for social change etc., are key questions not only for the Rhythm Changes team when examining the dynamics of culture but also for festivals and venues, especially at a time when the value and contribution of jazz to society is often downplayed or misunderstood.

As part of my presentation on programming, I argued that the magical and essential thing about any successful festival or venue is the relationship of music to place.  What makes a festival unique are its surroundings, circumstances and the way in which its programming works within these settings.  At their best, festivals can act as catalysts for change, transforming everyday spaces into magical worlds or encouraging people to see their environment in a new way or, indeed, they can make us think about the new possibilities our everyday surroundings can open up. 

Jazz programming can serve to galvanise communities and feed into a sense of civic pride.  It can also help us to experience things that wouldn’t normally occur on our doorstep.  Indeed, programmers offer audiences positive experiences of diverse cultures and demonstrate firsthand the benefits of cultural collaboration and exchange.  In this respect, international jazz programmes have the potential to go beyond the performance to provide audiences with a new and inspiring cultural experience.  Successful programmers tend to capitalise on this, encouraging the reception of jazz as a lifestyle choice.

One of the critical tensions at play within the increasing internationalisation of music programming and the growth and domination of artist agencies and touring schemes, is the question of how programmers differentiate themselves in a market where the same international acts tend to prevail, and touring schedules of musicians with fixed offers tend to overwhelm programming models.  The ‘one shoe fits all approach’ might have some benefits to local jazz scenes, giving people in remote parts of the world a rare international experience (believing we are hearing the same things as people in New York for example), but the homogenisation of programming should be treated with caution and misses the opportunity to create special and innovative events and unique festival experiences that celebrate place and the unique characteristics of scenes.  Arguably, a festival that just accepts artists who are performing the same repertoire in a number of different locations is not a festival but a promoter or booking agent who facilitates touring and groups a series of unrelated events together under the brand of a festival.  The critical tension between the global, the local and the politics of place is of central importance to Rhythm Changes.

Within the Rhythm Changes project, we are also interested in how cultural policy and state subsidy informs the development of jazz scenes and will be using our project to demonstrate why jazz works in certain settings and not in others, highlighting the integral link between art, politics and the dynamics of culture.  In my recent visit to Maijazz Festival in Norway, for example, I was interested to observe how the programming for the event said as much about jazz as it did about the city’s desire to showcase its own talents and civic aspirations – to show off the Stavanger region and to demonstrate that it was an international player capable of welcoming acts from around the world to participate in the event.  This experience showed that programming is as important to politicians as it is to arts professionals and audiences, and that successful programmers are becoming increasingly aware of the far-reaching implications of their events.

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