By Mark Banks, 17 May 2011
To most people, in both cultural and economic terms, jazz presents an image of fusty irrelevance – a minority interest in the art world, a miniscule contributor to the image and activity of the creative industries – but is this so? Can jazz help tell us something about our new cultural economy?
By Guest, 18 April 2011
Last month I had the opportunity to present some of my recent research at forums at the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Northern College of Music (the latter my own institution). In the talks I discussed a rehearsal Mark Doffman and I recorded at the Open University last year. Revisiting the events of the rehearsal – and condensing a 9000-word article into a 45-minute talk – was a good opportunity to rethink arguments I had drafted in the summer and autumn of 2010. Questions posed by various attendees also provoked reflection.
By Mark Banks, 4 February 2011
As we discovered at our recent panel on Black British Jazz and Education, most of the musicians we have come across tended to grow up in a ‘musical household’ – with music being frequently played and listened to, and family gatherings with familiar sounds and songs featuring prominently in the memory. But very few of our musicians came from a family where jazz was prominent or popular.
By Mark Doffman, 29 October 2010
One of the developing interests on the project is the work of Tomorrow’s Warriors, the educational project within Dune Music that Gary Crosby and Janine Irons have set up to provide a platform for young aspiring jazz musicians. While the focus of their educational work is with young musicians of the African diaspora, the ethos of the project is one of inclusion and diversity. Young players come from many social and musical backgrounds, sharing their passion for jazz.
By Catherine Tackley, 11 October 2010
I travelled to Cardiff recently to meet Patti Flynn, a professional singer who has returned to the city of her birth having performed and resided all over the world. Patti and Humie Webbe, who I interviewed in the summer, run the Butetown Bay Jazz Festival which involves the community in music and brings people into contact with their heritage.
By Jason Toynbee, 2 August 2010
Harry Beckett died on 22 July – sad news indeed. Harry was a gentle musical giant of the British jazz scene, an extraordinary trumpet and flugelhorn player, and a composer too, with a strongly idiomatic sound. In jazz, of course, everyone is supposed to have their own distinctive idiom. But Harry really did, being able to play in a range of moods and styles, from the lyrical to the acerbically free, yet always with a unique sense of phrasing. The architecture was different in his solos, apparently out of kilter, but with every note played to stunning effect.
By Mark Banks, 21 July 2010
The history of jazz owes much to the capitalist market. The market has provided the principal means for the manufacture, distribution and promotion of musical works, a coterie of willing buyers, and a means of accruing incomes that have sustained musicians and financed further production. Yet while jazz musicians have used the market in order to distribute and support their otherwise invisible (or rather, inaudible) music, they have also demanded distance from it in order to create ‘autonomous’ art-works beyond the reach of economic interest.
By Jason Toynbee, 13 July 2010
This week I had the opportunity to read an engaging essay by Kristin McGee, a colleague doing research on jazz in the Netherlands (the chapter will appear in Migrating Music, edited by Jason Toynbee and me, forthcoming with Routledge). McGee discusses the prominent place of bebop in contemporary jazz pedagogy and practice, and the roots of this high standing in both ideology and community practice.
By Mark Doffman, 4 May 2010
Anybody with an interest in jazz is acutely aware of its perennially uncomfortable position, bumping up against competing, more valued art worlds within British culture. The history of its being politely ignored by the cultural establishment is rendered even more poignant with the ever tantalising threat of its being proclaimed ‘the next BIG THING’. For people involved in jazz, in the face of this historical indifference and the fantasy of soon to be delivered riches, I am left wondering what it is about this music that draws so many musicians to it.
By Jason Toynbee, 27 April 2010
I gave a paper to the School of Music at Ohio State University, Columbus, USA in mid-April at the height of the great volcano, ash and air scare. Would I ever get home, I wondered as I rehearsed my presentation. Daunting, but maybe a touch of paranoia is useful – helps you sharpen up your act?