Rhythm Changes at Tou Scene

Jan 18 2011 Published by under Events, News

The Bjergsted Jazzensemble at Tou Scene, January 2011. Photo by Karina Gytre

The first in a series of European Rhythm Changes concerts took place on 14 January, as Irish composer and bandleader Dave Kane conducted the Bjergsted Jazzensemble at Tou Scene in Stavanger, an ex-brewery that has now become a cultural centre and hub of creativity in the Norwegian city.  ‘It was one of those magical live moments where space, audience, and musicians, blend together into a genuinely communal experience’, said Principal Investigator Dr Petter Frost Fadnes.

The concert, co-promoted by Tou Scene and the University of Stavanger, generated a large amount of press interest, resulting in one national radio broadcast on NRK P2’s Kulturnytt, one newspaper article, and two magazine articles to be published shortly.  Frost Fadnes continued, ‘All the journalists I’ve spoken to are genuinely interested

Dave Kane and the Bjergsted Jazzensemble, January 2011. Photo by Karina Gytre

in the potential outcome of the Rhythm Changes comparative study. The question of, for example, whether particular aesthetic qualities stand out between different ensembles, cities or national scenes, seems to fascinate the public, professionals and students alike.’

The NRK P2 Kulturnytt show, broadcast on 14 January, features interviews with Petter Frost Fadnes and Dave Kane as well as music from the event.
The programme can be accessed for a limited period via the following link:

No responses yet

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

No responses yet

Tchicai in Town

Oct 05 2010 Published by under News

Last week I experienced the full force of cultural dynamics at work…  and all within walking distance of my home in a Yorkshire Pennine town!  For me, the visit of the John Tchicai Trio to the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge demonstrated how jazz can take on a significance that goes beyond the physical and temporal parameters of performances themselves.

The event threw up a range of interesting examples of how jazz scenes are not only born out of cultural exchanges and the convergence of widespread influences but also how performances themselves can develop a symbolic quality, enabling people to experience their environment in a different way.

The event had a particular resonance for me as a scholar and jazz fan – Tchicai’s work is of direct interest to my two main ongoing research projects – my book project Beyond A Love Supreme for Oxford University Press, which examines the impact and influence of A Love Supreme and late Coltrane recordings, and the Rhythm Changes project, which continues to provide insights and analysis into jazz practices and the dynamics of European culture.  Tchicai was one of the central players of the ‘New Thing’ in jazz in the mid-1960s.  His playing featured on a number of influential albums including Archie Shepp’s Four for Trane and Coltrane’s iconic album Ascension and he was the founder of the New York Contemporary Five and a member of the Jazz Composers Guild, immersed in a vibrant and politically-charged scene that included musicians and artists such as Archie Shepp, Sun Ra and Amiri Baraka.

Meeting John the morning after the gig, it was fascinating to talk both about his life in the political hotbed of the US in the 1960s and about his experiences as a Danish national living in different locations and working with musicians from different cultures and settings.  Tchicai talked about his cultural influences and the concept of national sound – moving from Denmark to New York in 1962 and now living in France, he had clearly developed a number of valuable insights into national jazz scenes and transnational interactions.  As part of our conversation, we talked about the way in which, as an artist, you become aware of subtle differences in approach between musicians working in different scenes and national settings.  However, there is an obvious romance and pigeon-holing associated with national sounds, particularly when discussing European jazz; Tchicai made some interesting observations about the jazz scene in Scandinavia in the 1960s, claiming that, in Copenhagen in particular, there was no sense of boundary or policing of different types of jazz, and this creative environment led to some valuable interactions, cross-fertilisations and cultural exchanges.  During this time, Tchicai encountered figures such as Albert Ayler and Bill Dixon during their visits to Scandinavia and received personal invitations to move to the US.  Relocating to New York, Tchicai commented on the race politics of life at the time stating that, as a Dane, he was surprised by the change in context but didn’t feel the same way about the black nationalist agenda as colleagues such as Archie Shepp.

Tchicai’s appearance at the Trades Club was also the result of other types of cultural exchange taking place.  Now living in the South of France, Tchicai has developed a friendship with neighbours who are also of Danish descent, and those neighbours happen to have a daughter living and working in Hebden Bridge.   In turn, Tchicai’s performance brought together a small Danish ex-pat community, a film maker, a German record producer who had previously recorded Tchicai as part of a German festival, and a variety of musicians and artists, all of whom live within five minutes of the venue but who had not met until the event itself.  Finally, and in some remote way, the fact that that the performance took place in a venue such as the Trades Club, with its Trades Union history and socialist ideals, offered a window in to thinking about the political backdrop of the 1960s, and an appreciation of the power and impact of performances of jazz musicians working as part of the New Thing itself.

John Tchicai Trio from Tony Whyton on Vimeo.

No responses yet

Tony introduces the project

Jun 25 2010 Published by under Events

Rhythm Changes team leader Tony Whyton introduces the project at the HERA event in Vienna.

HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) is the funding organisation that has made this project possible, and we are part of the Cultural Dynamics strand.

A two-part question that followed from the floor (and I’m paraphrasing here): How will you incorporate the important role of jazz in other European countries – particularly France and Germany – and how will the work intersect with the obvious importance of Afro-American jazz heritage?

To which Tony replied:

No responses yet