Conservatory of Music and Drama
TU Dublin Dublin
January 17-19, 2019
Jazz music, which has pretty much always meant different things to different people, has been comprehensively documented since its arrival in the first decades of the twentieth century.
The most obvious form of documentation, that's to say studio recording, is almost as old as the music itself, whilst live recordings, both official releases and bootlegs, radio and television broadcasts, provide copious evidence of what live jazz has sounded like at almost any given point in its history.
Add to that the histories, biographies, autobiographies, individual country studies, plus all the live reviews, photographs and opinion pieces from specialist journalists the world over and it's safe to say that jazz has been extremely well served by the documenters. Or so it seems.
The academia-driven New Jazz Studiessurely in need of an updated moniker a quarter of a century on?however, thrives on the premise that there is an awful lot about our understanding of jazz that merits serious analysis or revision.
To that end, over a hundred academics, authors and independent researchers gathered at the Technological University Dublin Conservatory of Music and Drama, where, for three days, they presented multiple papers on a broad range of subjects related to the documentation of jazz.
Documenting Jazz is the brainchild of Dr. Damian Evans. Jazz bassist, academic and one of the original founders of the Galway Jazz Festival
, Evans has been a key figure on the Irish jazz scene, both as a musician and a researcher, for over a decade. In welcoming the delegates Evans acknowledged the Rhythm Changes
project as the major inspiration for Documenting Jazz. Since 2013, the annual Rhythm Changes conferenceheld in a different city each yearhas brought together the world's foremost thinkers on jazz, shedding much light and raising just as many questions about the music's history and attendant cultures.
The inaugural edition of Documenting Jazz was no less ambitious, attracting high-profile keynote speakers and an impressive range of international delegates. Alongside the dozen or so Irish presenters were academics and researchers from Australia, Russia, Indonesia, The USA, the UK, Italy, Norway, etc. Three of the delegates no less, Francesco Martinelli
, Tish Oney
and Bruce Lindsay
are contributors to All About Jazz.
Subjects addressed included: jazz and gender; jazz archives, documenting improvisation; jazz critics; jazz photography; jazz in film; jazz in the digital age; jazz and the BBC; recording jazz; transcription, and, jazz events and identity. "Most jazz isn't about jazz, at least in terms of how it's consumed."
This thought-provoking statement was written by Kirin Gabbardone of the keynote speakers at Documenting Jazzin his book Jammin' at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema
(University of Chicago Press, 1996), and it's a statement that invites reflection. How jazz is presented by musicians, promoters and labels, how it is consumed by jazz fans and perceived by the wider world in general, raises multiple questions as to the meaning of jazz. The meaning of jazz? Well, in truth that should be meanings
, for after all, as Documenting Jazz demonstrated, jazz often means quite different things to different people at different times.
The formalities got off to a nicely informal start in the Technological University's basement canteen, where Dr Evans, Dr Kerry Houston (Head of Department of Academic Studies) and Dr Lorraine Byrne Bodley (President of the Society for Musicology in Ireland) bid a warm welcome to delegates, without too much fuss or fanfare.
Jazz and Gender
Gender is one of the hottest topics in jazz, in fact in music in general, with numerous festivals of all stripes signed up to the Keychange/PRS Foundation's manifesto for 50-50 gender equality on festival programmes by 2022. This initiative reflects wider societal awareness of gender inequality, and the world of jazz is no exception.
The first paper in this session, presented by James Reddan of Western Oregon University was entitled Perceiving Gender in Jazz: Documenting the Past, Present and Theorizing of the Future
. Reddan began by stating that perceptions of gender in jazz have been influenced by documentationor lack thereofand how such documentation has been perceived with regards to gender stereotypes.
Whilst acknowledging that there has been an increase in the roles of both men and women in jazz since the 1990s, Reddan noted that jazz documentation still presents a perception of clear gender differences. How jazz is taught, the images students see, the material they read and the music they hear, is key in establishing notions of gender in jazz.
To support this argument, Reddan presented the results of a qualitative survey he conducted with thirty undergraduate music students, split equally between male and females. Focus groups of ten members met on different occasions to examine jazz books (The Oxford Companion to Jazz
, Women in Music
), magazines (Downbeat) and over a hundred album covers. Participants noted that men were bandleaders and played the loud instruments like trumpet, drums and trombone while women played violin, piano or sang. Male composers and lyricists received greater attention than their female counterparts.
It was generally agreed amongst the survey participants that when it comes to imagery, women jazz musicians/singer tend to be hyper-sexualized. One student remarked how her first experience of a jazz singer was Jessica Rabbit, the sex-symbol toon wife of Roger Rabbit. Students found that writing about jazz women was mostly done by women and was largely objective, while articles written by men on women musicians seemed more critical and opinionated. Tellingly, students noted that "for both women and men there was an exaggerated focus on the artist as object rather than artist as musician."
[In Dale Chapman's The Jazz Bubble: Neoclassical Jazz In Neoliberal Culture
(University of California Press, 2018) there is an illuminating chapter on Dexter Gordon
's 1976 homecoming that illustrates the objectification and stereotyping that typically surrounds iconic male jazz musicians in the press.]
Returning to the survey, the students also noted racial stereotypes in the material studied. One participant related that as a black singer the common assumption was that she must be a jazz or gospel singer, when in fact she was studying opera.
In conclusion, the survey participants noted the need for a non-binary approach to jazz documentation. If gender stereotypes in jazz are to change it will depend on how jazz is documented moving forward, argued Reddan, adding that care is needed when marketing jazz, and equally, when teaching it.
The second presentation on jazz and gender, entitled In Her Own Words: The Current Reality of Women in Jazz
, was jointly given by Alexandra Manfredo and Kiernan Steiner from the University of Miami, Florida and Arizona State University respectively. Their research has been influenced by the work on gender politics and sexism in jazz recounted in Jazzwomen
(Indiana University Press, 2004) by Wayne Enstice and Janis Stockhouse.
Having conducted interviews with a small sample of female jazz musicians in higher education, Manfredo and Steiner began by quoting the interviewees. The musicians spoke of dealing with and managing other people's expectations of them, of putting up a wall to counteract the predatory sexual climate, of being described as "the partner of another jazz musician"
, of feeling pressured to use macho gestures when leading a big-band or to yell when directing a band to get results.
One of the biggest obstacles is the "othering" of women in jazz, whereby documenting them and their contributions to jazz as somehow separate from men only disparages them and their gender. In jazz histories women are often grouped together with little consideration of their individual contributions.
Quoting musicologist, music historian and author Sherrie Tucker, Manfredo said: "And to add women in means they are not already in, subtract them and you still have jazz. Women jazz musicians go missing unless the framework is explicitly 'women in jazz.' But 'women in jazz' depends on the assumption that jazz does not already have women in it -a frustrating premise for women who play jazz and the people who write about them."
This imbalance, Manfredo and Steiner noted, is also reflected in jazz programmes in the United States, many of which don't have a single female professor. As regards female jazz students, Manfredo and Steiner found that their respondents were often the only female on a course, or one of a small handful, leading at times to feelings of self-doubt, anxiety and tokenism. In both the classroom and rehearsal environments, the paper's authors stated, many interviewees complained of sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and gender stereotyping at the hands of both their professors and male students.
Going forward, Manfredo and Steiner advocated initiatives such as blind auditions for jazz ensemble placements, curriculum adjustments that address women role models, as well as training on inclusion and diversity for all students and staff.
The Q&A session that followed indicated that there was much more to discuss on the issue of gender equality, such as differences in generational attitudes and responses towards objectifying or discriminatory behaviour. Or worse. As Jen Wilson of Jazz Heritage Wales pointed out, more serious forms of abuse are frequently not reported.
Wilson, a veteran jazz pianist, has written a history of Welsh Jazz and related how much of the personal testament of women jazz musicians interviewed was too sensitive, for the women themselves, to be published. "What's in an oral history is not always all that's actually said,"
Wilson stated. "It's what you are able to put out. There's a clean history, there's a dirty history and the dirty history tends to be hidden."
Almost three times as many women declined to respond to Manfredo and Steiner's interviews as those who did. What this signifies is impossible to say. Perhaps, despite assurances of total anonymity, many women felt that participation might jeopardize their careers. Or it may just be that most women were just too busy leading their own bands to spare the time.
Many more women are leading jazz ensembles than ever before, which is undoubtedly a good thing, but one of the reasons for this is perhaps because men, in the main, are still reluctant to invite women into their bands. Or the jam sessions. As jazz forges ahead in the twenty-first century, the music's oft-lauded claims as the most democratic and inclusive form of music ring rather hollow.
There were many fascinating sessions during the three days of Documenting Jazz but surely none as important as the one on jazz and gender.
Central to the on-going history of jazz is the archiving of jazz material. The oral histories, venue and festival programmes, the diffusion of jazz in popular culture, the media's reportage on jazz, specialist magazines, photographs, posters, flyers, recordings, newspaper obituaries-all are part of jazz's story. If not carefully archived and preserved, then much of jazz's history would be lost.
One of the most significant jazz publications for many years has been The History of European Jazz: The Music, Musicians and Audiences in Context
(Equinox Publishing, 2018). The driving force behind this impressive 650- page tome is Francesco Martinelli of Siena Jazz Archive. In a presentation entitled The Jazz Archive in Europe
Martinelli explained the challenges of putting together a work of such scope- -the first of its kind. Finding appropriate writers was one thing, but not all countries have organized and catalogued jazz archives. Material stored in national libraries often doesn't have detailed enough information on, for example, photographs or recordings.
In many countries, Martinelli noted, a personal archive is often the seed for a national archive. Inevitably, when individual, private archivers pass away some or all their material may be lost, which is why organized national jazz archives are so necessary. "We would not have a jazz history today if not for the 78 [records] collectors of the '40s"
, Martinelli said, "because the Library of Congress was not holding those records."
Essential in the research and writing of The History of European Jazz: The Music, Musicians and Audiences in Context
, Martinelli stressed, was finding contributors not only native to each of the twenty-seven countries in question but immersed in the jazz scene and the culture of their respective country.
The ability to source and research original language material, to converse with jazz musicians in their own language, and so on, was a prerequisite for the book from the start and was vital to what Martinelli described as the "vibrancy of connection to the local culture that can't be duplicated by somebody who comes from somewhere else."
Twenty minutes was a short time to talk about and discuss such a major document but for anyone interested to learn more about the making of the book then Martinelli's in-depth interview with All About Jazz
may be a good place to start.
The second presentation of the jazz archive session saw Frank Ferko, Sound Archive Librarian at Stanford University, give a talk entitled Collaborative Documentation: The San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation Collection at Stanford University
. The SFTJF has been collecting information on all kinds of jazz in the Bay Area since 1981. The jazz-loving individuals behind the collection are heading towards old age and wished for the material to be preserved for posterity. The ensuing collaboration with Stanford University resulted in a two-year project that saw the digitization of much of the material.
The digitized material has been converted into an on-line exhibit, which can be viewed at www.exhibit.stanford.edu The material includes features, photographs and multiple audio recordings. To put the exhibit into context, Ferko, with the use of slides, gave an overview of the history of traditional jazz in San Francisco, whose roots go back to social dancing in the 1890s. Many musicians made their way from New Orleans to San Francisco, including Bunk Johnson
, Freddie Keppard
, Kid Ory
and Jelly Roll Morton
, heavily influencing the Bay Area musicians.
Swing and big-band music pushed the traditionalists aside, though a revival came in the late 1930s, led by Turk Murphy
, Lu Watters
and Bob Helm
. Ferko namechecked the clubs, personalities and recordings that marked the history of the traditionalists in San Francisco. Many of the leading figures of the jazz scene donated material to the Stanford collection, some of which, Ferko acknowledged, had little or nothing to do with the traditional jazz scene and therefore was weeded out, including, perversely enough, underwear and a full- size gorilla suit.
The Stanford University and San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation held monthly meetings, a timeline was established, and goals were marked, such as digitizing over two thousand items and, with the aid of sophisticated software, creating an on-line repository. Some items have restricted accessitems that are copyrighted, for examplebut for research purposes, Ferko said, access can be granted in most cases due to the notion of fair use enshrined in copyright laws.
Ferko then summarized the main content of the online exhibit, including feature articles on traditional jazz musicians, the clubs, photographs, manuscript scores, audio documentation and links to videos etc.
Ferko's presentation was an example of the vital role that both individual collectors and national institutions play in the archiving and presevation of jazz history. Without the individuals much of the traces of jazz, especially the ephemera of jazz, would be lost. Without the funding and expertise of institutions, such material would not be widely available for future researchers.
Two very different papers were presented under the banner of Documenting Improvisation
. Anja Bunzel, from Maynooth University spoke of free improvisation in the German Democratic Republic, while Marian Jago of the University of Edinburgh addressed Lennie Tristano
's extended studio techniques.
Bunzel's paper, The Petit Jazzwerksttat (1873-1982): Documenting Free Jazz in the German Democratic Republic
was based on an exhibition in Peitz and examined the documentation surrounding the Petiz Jazzweksttat (jazz workshops/festival) between 1973 and 1982 These workshops and festivals were organized by Uli Blobel and Peter Metag until the GDR authorities shut it down. In 2011 Blobel relaunched the festival, which takes place every year in June.
Bunzel began by examining jazz in the context of post WWII Europe, particularly in the Eastern Bloc countries, where jazz was for some time, though not uniformly, considered subversive. Not surprisingly, perhaps, in the divided Germany of the Cold War years, nearly any music could be viewed as politicised to some degree. Bunzel then referenced some of the most significant German publications on jazz in this period, most of which viewed jazz as a socio-cultural phenomenon.
The exhibition, Bunzel said, reflected a predominantly male environment in those years, both among the musicians and in the audiences. Jazz was covered only sporadically in the media during this period. What archival material does exist is often difficult to locate, due to changing archival structures since Germany's reunion. Radio listings from 1973 show that three programmes were dedicated to the Petiz Jazzweksttat that year, though no details as to the programmes' contents are displayed.
Bunzel concluded by advocating further research on jazz in the GDR, stating her wish to publish recordings of GDR jazz festivals. Bunzel mentioned the website www.liebo.de, an online archive by Robert Liebo which includes twenty-nine recordings made by his father from the Peitz Jazz Festival between 1974 and 1981.
The second paper, by Dr Marian Jago was titled Lennie Tristano and the Use of Extended Studio Techniques in Jazz
. Jago's paper was based on the controversy aroused by Tristano's album Tristano
(Atlantic, 1956), a recording that employed studio techniques including multi-tracking, overdubbing and the manipulation of tape speeds on the first four tracks. In jazz circles, the studio techniques Tristano used were divisive, to say the least.
For Jago, the album and the reaction to it, offers an opportunity to consider notions of genre and labelling. Tristano's embrace of extended studio techniques, Jago said, was a bit ahead of its time. Jago posited that a lot of Tristano's artistic decisions were related to his blindness, and raised the question as to the place of disabilities in jazz studies. Sidney Bechet
employed overdubbing techniques in the early 1940s, but the difference to note, Jago said, is that those recordings were marketed as novelty records. Tristano had used extended studio techniques as early as 1951, but, Jago noted, these were releases on minor labels and failed to stir much attention. With Tristano
, by contrast, so great was the controversy that Downbeat dedicated an entire issue to an interview with Tristano in which he defended his artistic choices.
Whether music is considered by critics to be jazz, or non-jazz, or jazz-inflected music, Jago intimated, seems to depend on the 'authenticity,' or 'purity' of the performance. On hearing the general hype surrounding Kamasi Washington
, Jago related being surprised at the level of disinterest among certain jazz critics and musicians she contacted to get their opinion on his music. The conclusion Jago seemed to draw was that if pop-type recording techniques are employed, then many of those who position themselves in the jazz mainstream are often or dismissive or simply disinterested.
In discussing Tristano's blindness, Jago offered a rebuttal to those who would suggest that blindness is not an impairment when it comes to playing jazz. Whilst blindness doesn't affect sound production, Jago agreed, it does limit one's professional opportunities. And, in the context of small jazz ensembles blindness obviously cuts out visual cues between the musicians. In the Q&A that followed, the BBC's Alyn Shipton argued that blindness isn't necessarily an impairment in a small combo, citing the chemistry in George Shearing
's groups post-1960.
In the coffee breaks and during lunch there was opportunity to take in several exhibitions. Jazz on the Terrace
, a collection of concert/festival posters and photographs, highlighted the efforts of Allen Smith in promoting jazz in Dublin for over thirty years. Jazz on the Terrace was the forerunner to Improvised Music Company and Smith was involved the founding of both. Jazz Heritage Wales
, a poster curated by Deborah Checkland and Jen Wilson, highlighted the work of the Jazz Heritage Wales Collection. Since 1986, JHWC has archived thousands of audio and visual documents, books and scores, and much more relating to jazz in Wales. It also serves to promote the history of women in jazz and African-American music in Wales. Coltrane in Pop Culture
, a poster exhibition by Ramsey Castaneda of Los Angeles College of Music, highlighted mass media representations of John Coltrane
and how Coltrane's name has come to signify things other than just jazz music.
Keynote Speech 1: Professor Krin Gabbard: Representing Jazz in the Twenty-First Century
Global attitudes towards jazz are about as diverse as the music itself. Musicians, fans and critics will have their opinions and disagreements, but for Krin Gabbard, author of Better Git It in Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus
(University of California Press, 2016), perhaps a more revealing insight into global attitudes towards jazz may be found in the novels, films and TV programmes of popular culture.
Gabbard identified a number of associations or myths that surround jazz in the twenty-first century. Often in films and literature jazz is used to provide atmosphere, typically in film noir. Jazz in film is also used as a nostalgic device, signifying, as Gabbard put it, "the good ol' days
. Jazz in literature, is sometimes used to denote transcendence, where the musicians and the audience are transported to a near out-of-body experience. Then there is jazz as exotica; here, Gabbard cited the figure of Charles Mingus
, known for his antics and troublesome reputation by people who may not have heard his music. Knowledge of Mingus's music, on the other hand, means esoteric knowledge, of belonging inside a small circle and outside the rest of the culture for whom Mingus doesn't exist.
Gabbard gave examples of detective novels where jazz culture is employed for atmospheric effect. One standout example tells of a serial killer who is bumping off light-jazz musicians, leaving haikus at the murder scenes to toy with the cops. Baffled, the cops turn to jazz detective Evan Horne.
Though jazz is often associated with film noir, Gabbard said that it was more TV shows like Peter Gunn
(1958-1961) and Johnny Staccato
(1959-1960) that used jazz more liberally to create atmospheric effect. Gabbard showed a clip of a Super Mario
game with a jazz soundtrack, clips of films such as Whiplash
(2014), La La Land
(2016), The Terminal
(2004) and Collateral
(2004) -all of which use jazz to signify very different things. Jazz, as experienced by millions of people around the world, is associated variously with rare virtuosity born of obsessive dedication; nostalgia and exuberance; utopian transcendence, and hipster cool.
The uses and myths of jazz in popular culture in the twenty-first century, Gabbard noted by way of conclusion, are rooted in the twentieth century.
Nearly all of Gabbard's examples of film makers and authors who have used jazz to color or situate their work were male. Examples of women authors that came from the audience included Kerry Greenwood, Australian author of the Phryne Fischer detective series, and Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Eudora Welty, whose short story Powerhouse
was inspired after seeing a Fats Waller
As an addendum to Gabbard's presentation, it's perhaps also worth adding, that for millions of people, thanks to the likes of coffee-shop chains, jazz is merely background musica not unpleasant soundtrack to conversation. Small wonder then, that some people might see nothing wrong with chatting all the way through a performance in a jazz club.
Jazz as Popular Culture
In its early incarnations around the world, jazz was essentially dance musican exotic mongrel that took elements of local music and mixed it with US influences. In his paper Jazz, The Body and Popular Culture
, Seán Shanagher of Ballyfermot College of Further Education, turned the spotlight on a rural community in County Roscommon, Ireland, were early jazz was experienced in relation to, and mixed with, local music in the 1930s-1950s.
Shanagher's research was based on oral histories of forty-five musicians and dance-goerssmall farmers allwho frequented the rural dance halls in those years. Photos of the rural halls showed extremely modest, cottage-like buildings, that have since reverted in the main to agricultural usage, if they haven't been reclaimed by nature. Foxtrot, quick-step and waltzes, which were equated with jazz in Ireland at that time, were the popular dances.
Ireland was in a process of nation-building after the turbulent years of the independence struggle, civil war and partition. Consequently, cultural nationalism was widely promoted and encouraged. Shanagher mentioned the Anti-Jazz campaign led by Father Peter Confrey in County Leitrim. For the Catholic Church, jazzwhich effectively meant modern dance imported from the US represented immorality, and Father Confrey led three thousand people through Mohill with banners proclaiming 'Down With Jazz'
and 'Out With Paganism'
Shanagher made the point that one young man interviewed who went to rural dances had turned out for the Anti-Jazz march, not as a participant, but just to see what all the fuss was about. This raises the question as to just how many in attendance were outraged by 'jazz' and how many were simply along for the craic.
The bands at these 'jazz' events, Shanagher related, would play ceili dances, sets of traditional music as well as popular songs by the well-known singers of the day. One musician interviewed recalled the use of clarinet, accordion, fiddle, trumpet and drums combined, a hybridization of traditional Irish and modern instrumentation, though unfortunately, no recordings exist. Little documentation in general exists about these dances, which, Shanagher suggested, is perhaps due to a still ongoing process of cultural nationalism in Ireland "that doesn't necessarily make room for a slightly messy, hybrid form of jazz-Irish."
The focus of most documentation, Shanagher said, has been on the suppression of jazz/modern dance in those decades and not on the cultural practices themselves. This was the first post-independence generation in Ireland and Shanagher made the point that Irish youth then were negotiating a complex cultural landscape of modernism and cultural nationalism.
Irish cultural nationalism, in all its forms, can only be fully understood in relation to the so-called transgressionsas defined by the Catholic church and governmentof rural dances that embraced modernism. More research on this fascinating aspect of the arrival and gradual adoption of jazz in an Irish society in flux would be most welcome.
Professor Catherine Tackely of the University of Liverpool, in her paper entitled Finding Jazz: Jazz as Popular Culture in Interwar Britain
, argued that jazz had an impact on the local culture that was not directly connected with visiting American jazz musicians or specific jazz forms. Specifically, she looked at the dance bands of the time, which, not unlike the Irish dance hall bands of the previous presentation, played an important role in introducing notions of jazz to the British public. The dance bands would incorporate elements of jazz that fitted in with their popular form of entertainment.
Variety shows were all the rage in the interwar years, with a balance between music and dance, comedy, acrobatics and novelty. Tackely's focus was on the West Indian musicians who began arriving in Britain in the 1930s, and in particular Ken 'Snakehips' Johnson, who was originally from what was then British Guiana.
Johnson, a dancer, joined and later took over the band of Jamaican trumpeter Leslie Thompson. The success of the band, which played a mixture of jazz and swing, saw it broadcasted on the BBC and hold down a residency at a London nightclub called Café Paris. Unfortunately, during The Blitz of 1941, German bombs struck the venue, killing thirty-four people, including Johnson.
Johnson's West Indian band was a novelty, and although famous for his 'snakehip' dancing, the climax of his show was dancing up and down a flight of stairs to a backdrop of swing music. Johnson's band, like others, Tackley noted, had to adapt to cater to changing tastes and fads. Jazz, swing, calypso and rumba were all part of the band's repertoire, while a choir was employed for radio broadcasts.
Racial stereotypes, both in the presentation and in the reception of Johnson's music, were ever-present, particularly in the regions, and followed on from a tradition of minstrelsy in British variety halls. It is worth noting, however, that a review of Johnson's Orchestra from a Belfast newspaper in the 1930s remarked upon "a thrilling demonstration of how swing and jazz should be played."
It was more entertainment dance bands, such as Johnson's, and not
jazz records, jazz magazines and visiting US artists, argued Tackley, that has enabled jazz to remain in popular culture in the UK to this today.
With Liverpool Hope University's Mike Brocken unable to attend, the paper entitled Liverpool's Hidden Histories of Popular Music, Gender and 'Sweet' British Dance Band Music: A Case Study of Mary Daly Hamer at the Grafton Rooms
, was presented solely by Laura Hamer of Open University. The presenter made the disclaimer from the off that the Mary Daly Hamer of the study was not her grandmother, or indeed any other sort of kin.
Like Shanagher and Tackley before her, Hamer's focus was on the dance-band culture of the inter-war years, which, like most other forms of popular music in Liverpool has been overshadowed to a large degree by scholarly attention to The Beatles. Thanks largely to The Beatles' global fame, Liverpool was named a UNESCO City of Music in 2015, though as Hamer demonstrated, there is another musical history in Liverpool besides Merseybeat and The Fab Four.
In a period when theatre, cinema, boxing and all manner of neon-lit venues were popular, Hamer underlined the fact that dancing was the most popular form of entertainment for young people, with the city boasting ten dance halls by 1934, with dances held at various times throughout the day. But if dance-hall music culture in inter-war Liverpool has largely been ignored by musical historians, then even more peripheral have been the stories of the women who played a role in that world.
One of the biggest dance halls was the Grafton Rooms, frequented ion the main by Liverpool's second-generation Irish community. The focus of Hamer's study was the dance band led by Mary Daly Hamer, one of the only examples of an all-male band led by a woman during that period. Daly Hamera pianist and exhibition dancertook over the reins of the band when her husband, Wil Hamer, died in 1936. Thereafter she led the band under the banner Mrs Wilf Hamer and Her Boys
, until the mid-1950s. The 'Mrs' in the band name was more than a tribute to her late husband, Hamer explained, and represented "a cast-iron guarantee of respectability."
Daly Hamer directed the band to play 'sweet' dance-band music, according to the wishes of the audiences, even though her band urged her to let them play 'hot' jazz music and jives. Although this was a golden period for all-girl bands, it was still very unusual for a woman to lead an all-male band. Also unusual was that Daly Hamer tended to wear jackets and trousers. Her attire, the presenter noted, could be interpreted as an attempt to downplay her sexuality, or to show who was 'wearing the trousers,' so to speak. It may also simply have been a question of practicality.
Playing what the public wanted made Daly Hamer's band one of the most successful dance bands from the 1920s to the 1950s, though their success and relevance in terms of popular culture has been relegated to the margins of popular music history in Liverpool due to the attention given to The Beatles, from its inception in the early 1960s until today.
Jazz and Photography
Photography has played a very particular role in documenting jazz over its first century, going some way to mythologizing some of jazz' best-known practitioners. Photography, however, plays an important role in documenting time and place, providing evidence of the conditions musicians play in, the audience make-up, dress codes, venue type and seating arrangementsall of which speak about jazz's socio-cultural roles at any given place and time.
This panel began with a presentation by Isaac Maupin from the University of Kentucky entitled Photographing the Carnival of Swing: An Immigrant's Perspective on the First Jazz Festival
. The first jazz festival, according to Maupin, was the Carnival of Swing, which was held in Randall's Island Stadium on May 29th, 1938. Twenty-three thousand people turned out, between 10am and 5pm to watch and dance to twenty-five swing bands.
A stellar line-up included bands led by Duke Ellington
, Count Basie
, Stuff Smith
, Vincent Lopez
, Artie Shaw
, Chick Webb
, Woody Herman
and Gene Krupa
. Benny Goodman
featured on the festival poster but, due to another commitment, did not, in fact, appear. Each band played for ten minutes. Proceeds from the festival went to the New York Musicians Hospital Fund.
Documentation of this historic event was limited at the time to a review in The New York Times and silent news reel. In 1969, however, a collection of photos was donated to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. These photos, which captured the bands on and off-stage, as well as the public, were taken by Otto Hess, a German immigrant who became a professional photographer in the United States.
Maupin, who worked a summer as archivist at the above-mentioned library, discovered Hess' photos of the Carnival of Swing. In this presentation Maupin gave biographical detail on Hess and argued that Hess' photos reflected his immigrant identity. Hess's photos presented a narrative of the Carnival of Swing, with shots of people making their way to the stadium in the morning, shots of a radio host interviewing festival attendees, wide-angle shots of the grandstands and close-up images that show an audience of mixed gender and mixed race. His photos, Maupin said, were "very searching, very curious."
, and revealing of his outsider identity.
Hess documented the musicians on stage, back -stage practising their dance moves, Gene Krupa signing autographs, Duke Ellington with W.C. Handy. Hess' photos reveal an interest in all aspects of this vast gathering of music fans and bands. Pictures of musicians loading a bus, the make-up of the crowd, and so on, reveal the photographer's ethnographic interest in the festival, not only as a musical event argued Maupin, but as a manifestation of American culture.
For Maupin, Hess' photography not only brings the historic Carnival of Swing visually to life, but also contributes to the history of the importance of immigration to American culture, underling that it sometimes takes an outsider's perspective to capture the extraordinary and the beautiful in what may seem like the every day.
The second paper, presented by Abby Lloyd of Texas A&M International University, was titled Preserved Through Portraits: Mexican-American Frontier Bands (ca. 1930-1950)
To escape economic depression and the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), large numbers of Mexican migrants were seduced by the opportunity of a better life working in Kansas' on the Santa Fe railroad or in the sugar beet industry. Indeed, they were actively recruited. And discriminated against, being forced into isolated colonias
near the commercial centres of Kansas towns. The first significant wave of Mexican migration coincided, Lloyd described, with many African-American labourers and their families moving from rural areas to Northern urban centres.
The large-scale migration of Mexicans prompted Lloyd to research what role Mexicans and Mexican-Americans may have played in the rise of jazz in the mid-west in the first half of the twentieth century. Mexican communities, she argued, may have been more involved in the American jazz movement than historical documentation suggests. In Chicago, for example, Mexicans were the fourth largest immigrant group in the city and lived in close proximity to African-Americans. Lloyd's research, however, drew her to study the Mexican communities in the frontier town of Topeka, where Mexicans working the railroads and farms lived in segregated communities.
Archival photographs record Hispanic swing bands in Topeka between 1930-1950, documenting the continuous and evolving Hispanic presence in jazz. Despite being isolated from the main community of Topeka and despite often racist policy toward them, Lloyd said, Mexicans attempted to adapt to some of the American ways of life.
Portraits of Mexican bands such as the Martinez Jazz Orchestra preserved in the Kansas Memory Project reveal instrumentation typical of Kansas City jazz bands of the 1930s trumpet, trombone, sousaphone, piano, banjo, drums, woodwind players. A portrait of the Manuel Corona Band from 1944 shows how the instrumentation had developed, reflecting the popularity of swing, with a rhythm section comprised of bass, piano, guitar and drums, plus three saxophones, three trumpets and one trombone. Unfortunately, it appears that no sound recordings of these bands exist, nor documentation of the audiences they played for.
The embrace of jazz by Mexican bands, Lloyd suggested, was a step towards cultural assimilation, though as documentation was rare and has been poorly preserved, it is difficult to ascertain just what influence Mexican bands played in the development of jazz in Kansas, though that they were active participants, Lloyd said, is seemingly evident. More research on this narrative would be welcome.
The third paper, presented by John Gennari of the University of Vermont, was titled Photographing the Jazz Salon: Clemens Kalischer at Music Inn
Gennari's paper looked at the photos of Clemens Kalischer, a German-Jewish war refugee who came to New York in 1946. Specifically, Gennari focused on the photos Kalischer took at Music Inn in Lennox, where during the summer months jazz musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie
, Dave Brubeck
, George Russell
, Ornette Coleman
and others, along with critics and writers including Marshall Stearns, Nat Hentoff
and Langston Hughes, gathered to propagate a formal understanding of jazz.
Their efforts were, according to Gennari, an attempt "to mainstream jazz socially and culturally in post-war America...to evangelize jazz as a force of racial harmony...to sanitize it of its affiliations with political radicalism and racial bohemian subcultures"
. The Berkshires of western Massachusetts in the post-war years was a thriving centre of literature, summer festivals and tourism, and it was in this landscape that the Music Inn in Lennox existed. Jazz was therefore placed and presented in the context of middle-class cultural tourism.
Gennari presented some of Kalischer's five hundred photos of Music Inn, which showed Marshall Stearns delivering a lecture in 1952 to a small but diverse audience, Connie Kay
talking to a student, Gunther Schuller and other intellectual heavyweights teaching jazz history. There was a jazz school where jazz history was taught and there was a concert series. Students, in 1959, included Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry
, one photo capturing the former singing Bach chorales.
Clemens died in 2018 aged 97. Curiously, Clemens knew nothing about jazz and actively disliked it, according to Gennariwho got to know the photographer quite well in his final years and yet the photographer became a very close friend of Ornette Coleman John Lewis
and Gunter Schuller. For Gennari, Clemens jazz photography was a blend of art photography and iconography, and very different from other 1950s jazz photographers such as Francis Wolfe, William Gottlieb, Herman Leonard
and William Claxton.
Clemens brings an outsider's eye to his photography, clearly recognizing the cultural richness at play when jazz musicians, intellectuals and writers gathered for a leisurely three weeks in the Berkshires. The importance of Clemens' photography, Gennari stated, was because "it can allow us to think about a jazz narrative that moves us away from the classic jazz narrative that is connected to a classic look..."
Jazz and the Digital Age
The digital age has had an enormous impact in how jazz is documented, with YouTube allowing musicians who have never owned a record or CD, who have never been to a jazz concert, to not only access a vast performance and recorded library of music but to learn from the masters [see interview with Vangthanousone Bouaphane: The Lao Jazznova
Jeremiah Spillane of the University of London then delivered a paper titled Documenting 'Gypsy Jazz': Understanding the Posthumous Influence of Django Reinhardt and the Ongoing Interpretation and Codification of His Music Through Pedagogy and Performance Online
, which demonstrated how YouTube has been hugely influential in the documentation and dissemination of manouche jazz performance techniques.
Spillane demonstrated how peer to peer exchange of knowledge via YouTube, "the disembodied performance"
, as he called it, has changed the oral tradition of Gypsy jazz performance techniques. Spillane showed the specialist Gypsy jazz YouTube channel Patrus53.com. The subscription site is run by a Canadian simply known as Patrus. Over eight hundred Gypsy jazz performances, recorded by Patrus around the world, are available to subscribers, as our interviews with the musicians.
The performances are recorded to camera without an audience, with musicians facing the camera so that finger positioning is clear. The success of Patrus 53, Spillane said, makes it a powerful platform for Gypsy jazz musicians the world over, on a promotional and professional level, enabling musicians to reach promoters and gain cultural capital within the scene.
Django Reinhardt is still revered as an innovator in Gypsy jazz and a giant of the genre, but with so little live footage available, and even less of good quality, he is not, Spillane said, the primary source of instruction for today's Gypsy jazz practitioners, who are far more likely to visit Patrus 53 to gain knowledge on the techniques of hundreds of their peers than they are to go to an old Django Reinhardt vinyl or CD. Patrus 53, with its high-quality production values and curation has made it, Spillane said, "an immensely valuable archive and document of styles and approaches to the music at an important time in the Gypsy jazz scene."
If YouTube has to a large degree replaced the LP in jazz pedagogy, then the internet has also enabled jazz Real Books to enter the digital age. The presentation of Tim Nikolsky, jazz guitarist and independent scholar, was titled Digitally Curating the Australian Jazz Real Book
. Nikolsky spoke about how his inspiration for the Australian Jazz Real Book came from the jazz Real Book created by students at Berklee College of Music in the 1970s.
In a 2011 interview with All About Jazz
, Nikolsky described the process by which the Australian Jazz Real Book developed from a doctoral thesis, the exhaustive selection of songs and the input of many Australian jazz musicians with regards as to what should be included. Five years of toil paid off when the Australian Jazz Real Book was published
, in print and on-line in 2013.
Nikolsky summarized the criteria for tune selection in the Australian Jazz Real Book, based on a survey and qualitative interviews with musicians. The book covers over seventy years of Australian jazz, over a hundred and sixty composers and features four hundred songs. But a printed book, Nikolsky said, has no room to expand, except for additional volumes every few years. The digital curation of the Australian Jazz Real Book on the other hand, has all the printed version's tunes and then some, expanding by as many as fifteen tunes per monthby established and emerging artistsand supporting Nikolsy's statement that "Jazz is a living, breathing art form..."
At the time of this conference the digital Australian Jazz Real Book contained over one thousand, one hundred tunes. The AJRB has been designed, Nikolsky explained, to enable students in Australian music education to play Australian jazz tunes, an option that wasn't previously available in Australian curriculums, as most of the music had never been archived properly. Additionally, the AJRB has profiles of the musicians whose tunes are featured, plus links to their websites, Bandcamp, YouTube and so on.
Nikolsky spoke of Australian jazz's national and regional identities, something promoted by the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues, where Australian performers participating for the National Jazz Awards must play Australian music. As to the AJRB's effect on the Australian jazz scene, Nikolsky said:"There is a greater awareness amongst the younger generation, because of its availability, because it's been written into curricula. Everyone is checking everyone else out a bit more."
The third paper of the session was presented by José Dias of Manchester Metropolitan University. His paper was titled Documenting the Now and Projecting Ahead: Contemporary Portuguese Jazz in a Multi-Media Platform and Research Resource
As the Portuguese jazz showcases demonstrated at the European Jazz Conference 2018
, in Lisbon, Portuguese jazz is in rude health. Dias's 2016 documentary film Those Who Make It Happen
, explored the strength of Portuguese jazz as the fruit of a collective effort by musicians, promoters, audiences and researchers. As Dias outlined in this presentation, that documentary has inspired a project of even greater reach. Jazz +351
, Dias explained, is intended as a 12- part web series featuring showcase performances, interviews, discussions and advice on how and where to learn jazz.
Dias' documentary has underlined the Portuguese jazz network, even if, he said, some cannot see it for themselves. Partly inspired by the Improvised Music Company's 12 Points Festival
, Dias and Carlos Martin, Festival Director of Lisbon's Festa do Jazz, began to investigate all the different agents involved in a festival to find ways to map the social, artistic and promotional practices at play, including fields such as such as audience experience and the sense of cultural identity.
To this end Dias and Festa do Jazz developed a Researcher-in-Residence programme for three yearsa practice increasingly commonplace at European jazz festivalsto promote debate on music education and promotion. Out of this initiative the documentary was created, which in turn was an important element in promoting networking and propelling the creation of the Portuguese Jazz Network.
The next project, Dias outlined, was the above-mentioned Jazz + 321
. Taken together, Dias said, these projects, which adopt an interdisciplinary approach encourage informal networks to become formal networks, making something fragile stronger. "We are creating a narrative,"
Dias concluded, a collective narrative documenting the now..."
Day Three Keynote Speech 2: Gabriel Solis: Seductive? Menace? Revisiting the Place of Recordings in Jazz History
Professor of Musicology and Affiliate in African American Studies and Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Gabriel Solis is perhaps best known for his books Monk's Music: Thelonious Monk and Jazz History in the Making
(University of California Press, 2008) and Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall
(Oxford University Press, 2014). His keynote speech centred on the challenges that records present as documents of jazz history. From the outset Solis acknowledged that his paper was inspired in part by Red Rasula's article The Seductive Menace of Records in Jazz History
In a fascinating though somewhat dense and academically heavy paper, Solis invited re-evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of focusing on jazz records as a way to understand jazz history. Solis revisited notions of the production, circulation and proliferation of recordings as significant markers of the music's history.
One outstanding example offered by Solis was the shift in relationship between musician and record epitomized by Miles Davis
and producer Teo Macero's post-production work on albums like Bitches Brew
(Columbia, 1970) and On the Corner
(Columbia, 1972). On these records the relationship between live and mediated music was challenged. Fast-forward to today and the question, Solis posed, is: how does the material difference introduced by the advent of streaming media condition our understanding of recordings in jazz scholarship? This in turn raises the issue, he said, of how scholars can develop new research methodologies and theories to address the question.
Jazz history, Solis said, is understood through discographic record, through social histories (biography, interviews etc) and through an examination of the music in the cultural context of the USA and the rest of the world. No one filter for understanding jazz is better than another. Instead, Solis argued they should all inform each other. Rasula's key point, taken up by Soils, however, is that jazz history's key document, the record, has largely been overlooked by scholars. Solis suggested that scholars could adopt the critical lenses of media studies, science, technology and ontology to better understand the implications of the record in jazz history.
Solis referred to Professor Tony Whyton
's chapter on the Impulse! label in his book Jazz Icons: Heroes, Myths and the Jazz Tradition
(Cambridge University Press, 2010) as a good example of mass media, how the marketing, brandinga key jazz strategyand consumption of a jazz recording plays an important role in the historicizing of jazz. Solis also noted Professor Catherine Tackley's article Jazz Recordings as Social Text
, in which she noted scholars' general failure to recognize jazz records as culturally meaningful artefacts that have meanings and uses quite separate to those attributed them by historians.
In the aforementioned paper Tackley had observed how we can listen to the same records as somebody would have fifty or sixty years ago, but that it may mean something very different to us. The historical, geographical and social circumstances of the listener can impart meanings to the music that may be completely at odds with the canonical historicizing of a record by a label [or indeed, a jazz critic]. A more critical assessment of the reception of jazz is needed, Tackley had argued in her article, to appreciate the music's social potential in the 21st century.
Solis touched on a number of other ideas: the technological innovations in sound engineering and how they have impacted upon the record and its reception; the shift in live jazz over the decades towards the contemporary format whereby the record often frames the performance; the concept album, usually attributed to pop and rock, but which has long been a part of jazz history; the way technology drives musicians' ideas; how 'masterpiece' status in jazz depends on mediation.
One of the most revealing parts of Solis' paper addressed YouTube and. Looking at uploads of live videos by McCoy Tyner
and Terri Lyne Carrington
, Solis spoke of the challenges of using these live recording videos as historical documents (multiple versions of the same concert, inconsistent dates, lack of information on band etc) although they can tell us a lot, for example, about jazz audiences in history and how they became quiet over the decades. The comments posted by viewers also reveals a lot about gender and jazz, with many of the comments on Carrington's videos referencing her sexuality or patronizing her in 'good-for-a-woman'-type comments.
In summarizing Soli's major conclusions, jazz has moved from the 78 and LP to multiple-format historical re-releases and fan-driven, crowd-funded recordings, form the tangible LP to streaming, from audio to YouTube (with its global availability), from print to on-line media. The changes in the production, mediation, reception and social meanings of jazz documents in the twenty- first century require, Solis argued, fresh scholarly approaches to better understand the music's historical narrative.
In this session three papers shone light on very different figures in jazz history. The first of these was by Yuji Numano of Toho Gakuen School of Music. He delivered a paper titled Free Form as a Symbol of Pluralistic Activities: Youske Yamashita's Artistic Trajectory
Pianist Yosuke Yamashita
was arguably the first Japanese jazz artist to become known to European audience, when his trio with Akira Sakata
and Takeo Mariyama appeared at major European jazz festivals in 1974, such as Moers, Berlin and Ljubliana. The success of these appearances brought subsequent European tours on an annual basis.
In Japan, before Yamashita, free jazz had been considered as esoteric and marginal. Yamashita's major achievement in Japan, Numano said, was to make free jazz and avant-garde sensibilities more acceptable, and in Yamashita's case, more popular than more mainstream jazz performers.
In response to the free-jazz movement in Europe, the form began to take hold in Japan, as early as 1962. By 1965, Numano noted, Yamashita began his free-jazz trajectory. Seeing John Coltrane in Japan in 1966 emboldened his path in free-jazz. The pianist did not see free-jazz as an art form, Numano related, but as a live act. Quoting Yamashita, Numano related that: " Jazz is like boxing or soccer with sound..."
Yamashita's artistry, however, was multi-faceted. His fame in Japan was due also to his status an essayist, academic and novelist. Yamashita worked with comedians and in 1990 he wrote a science-fiction novel about jazz. Numano showed a video from YouTube documenting one of Yamashita's most famous performances, Burning Piano
from 2008, where the pianist, covered in protective clothing, plays the piano on a beach as it is consumed by flames. Burning Piano
was a repeat of a performance Yamashita had enacted in 1973, the film of which is housed in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Given that Numano highlighted Yamashita's humour as an essayist on jazz, and given the pianist's collaborations with comedians, it's not a stretch to view Yamashita's pyrotechnic free-jazz act as a Monty-Python-esque parody of avant-garde art, though this may also be far from the truth.
From the 1980s, Numano explained, Yamashita's main vehicle, both in the studio and live, was a trio with Cecil McBee
and Pheeran akLaff, expanded at times to include Joe Lovano
. In Japan, Numano said, jazz has lost some of its former status enjoyed in the 1960s and 1970s as a serious art form, and for many people "jazz is nothing more than mood music played in the bar or restaurant..."
. In the 1980s when jazz was going off the radar in Japan, Numano related, Yamashita began to appear in the mass media, notably on television, his wit and invention making him a well-known musician in Japan, to the point that for many Japanese 'jazz' meant free-jazz
Yamashita's broad range of artistic outlets, Numano said, were complimentary to his free-jazz, where 'free' meant freedom to express himself as he saw fit. Perhaps one of his greatest achievements, as part of a wider avant-garde circle, was to challenge the rigidness in Japanese society.
The second paper, given by Per Husby of the Norwegian Jazz Archive, was titled Filling in the Gaps: Curating Randi Hultin's 'Biographic' Jazz Collection
. The focus of Husby's paper was the internationally renowned Norwegian jazz writer, impresario and enthusiast Randi Hultin (1926-2000). Since 2016, in the Norwegian National Library's jazz division, Husby has been curating, digitalizing and archiving Hultin's private collection of photos, interviews, writings and personal correspondence with jazz musicians.
Husby argued that Hultin's informal, enthusiastic and non-discriminatory approach to jazz and its practitioners, as opposed to a formal, journalist, research-based approach, provided unique insights into the many years Hultin was involved in the jazz scene. Hultin documented things, Husby said, that other journalists didn't see as important at the time. Husby played a rough recording of a ragtime piano recital in Hulton's home by Keith Jarrett
from 1966 and showed photos of Jarrett and the rest of the Charles Lloyd
band whom she had invited for spaghetti. These were typical of Hulton's documentation, which captured jazz musicians in relaxed mode off-stage.
Hulton's interview technique, or rather her interview manner, was a little rambling and chaotic. She mothered the musicians and told her own anecdotes but, Husby said, the musicians opened up to her in ways they rarely did in more formal, journalistic interviews. The musicians loved Hultin, many of them corresponding with her for years. At least three songs were written in dedication to her by jazz musicians. A Downbeat article from 1971 on Sonny Rollins
noted: "Nobody knows where Rollins is..."
, but in fact Hultin knew, as a photograph she took of Rollins mowing her Oslo lawn attested.
A rare recording of Milton Jackson
playing the piano and singing in Hultin's home, another of Coleman Hawkins
live in a studio, plus unedited radio recordings and boxes of ephemera including letters, autographed articles, posters etc, are all part of Hultin's private collection that is now archived in the Norwegian National Library. In conclusion, Husby recommended Hulton's autobiography, Born Under the Sign of Jazz
, which is published in English.
The third paper in this session was presented by Ted Buehrer of Kenyon College and titled The Radio Broadcast as Jazz Document: Lost Music of Mary Lou Williams
. Buehrer argued for the radio broadcast as a highly important and often unique document, citing the example of several Danish National Radio broadcasts in 1968 of the music of Mary Lou Williams.
Buehrer began by emphasizing the important role radio broadcasts played in introducing listeners to the music of their favourite artists during the Swing era of the big-bands. With specific reference to the Danish National Radio broadcasts of Williams' music in 1968, Buerhrer stressed its significance as several compositions featured were the only documented recording of those compositions in Williams' lifetime.
Prior to addressing the radio broadcast in question Buehrer gave a brief description of Williams' career. A fine pianist and leader of her own small combos in New York, Williams was also a talented arranger, writing for Benny Goodman
, Earl Hines
, Dizzy Gillespie
and Duke Ellington
, amongst others. Ellington was a great admirer of William's music and Williams wrote numerous arrangements and original compositions for his orchestra in the 1940s. Five of the compositions broadcasted by Danish National Radio on its Williams' tribute programmes were written by Williams for Ellington.
Williams, however, suffered from depression in the next two decades and abandoned her career. She found strength in religion and helped musicians who were addicted to drugs and alcohol through her Bel Canto Foundation. Williams, Buehrer related, returned to her musical career to support her humanitarian work. In the 1960s her career was back on track, though despite writing arrangements for Count Basie and Woody Herman Williams was financially insecure.
The radio shows in question were broadcast in October 1968. The host and narrator was journalist/producer Baron Timme Rosenkrantz, who was opening his own jazz club that month, with Williams booked to play as the opening act. The three shows which lasted between twenty to thirty minutes each, showcased compositions from across Williams' career. Rosenkrantz mentions several Williams' arrangements written specifically for the DNR, but Rosenkkrantz described these comments as inaccurate, saying that the arrangements had been written for Ellington.
Williams had written compositions for Ellington, but an extract from a letter she wrote to Ellington in 1967 seemed to suggest that the music hadn't been commissioned by Ellington. Instead, Williams' wrote the tunes and asked Ellington, if he was interested, for payment. Ellington never paid Williams and, according to Buehrer, probably never played them. Thus, the Danish National Radio Broadcasts of these Williams' compositions are unique documents.
The 1968 DNR broadcasts of Williams' music are archived in The Mary Lou Williams Collection at Rutgers University Library. In 2005, a quarter of a century after Williams' death, these seldom heard compositions were recorded and commercially released by Dutch Jazz Orchestra on Rediscovered Music of Mary Lou Williams
(Challenge Records, 2005).
Jazz Events and Identity
The penultimate session began with a paper by Citra Aryandari of the Citra Research Center, Indonesia. Her paper was titled Festivalisation of Jazz in Indonesia: From the Stage to an Event
There are, according to Aryandari, more than two hundred jazz festivals in Indonesia. The number, Aryandari said, came from Indonesia's Ministry of Tourism, although a more reliable figure might be just over one hundred, as claimed by WartaJazz.com
in 2018. For almost twenty years WartaJazz.com has been Indonesia's premier jazz agency, founding multiple jazz festivals, promoting national and international concerts and tours and, through its website, providing daily jazz news and reviews.
Whichever figure is closest to the truth it still represents a remarkable growth since the turn of the century when the country had probably fewer than twenty jazz festivals
Jazz festivals in Indonesia are held in both urban and rural areas. In Aryandari's city of Yogyakarta there are three jazz festivals, the longest-standing being the UGM Jazz, which has been running since 1997. Initially known as Economics Jazz, because the festival is held on the campus of Gaja Mada University's School of Business and Economics, ticket prices were too high for many people in the city, Aryandari said.
Ngayojazz, running since 2007, by contrast, mixes jazz and art installation in the village of Gilangharjo. National and international artists representing a wide range of jazz styles share the bill and the festival's posters and communications are written in the local idiom, which makes this festival a more inclusive event. Prambanan Jazz, which held its first edition in 2015 and attracts around twenty thousand people. The festival is held against the spectacular backdrop of Prambanan Temple, a ninth-century Hindu temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Jazz festivals, however, can be found throughout Indonesia, with the honor of the longest-running festival belonging to Jazz Goes to Campus, whose first edition was in 1976. The reasons for the growth and popularity of jazz festivals among Indonesians are several, explained Aryandari. Firstly, tourism. Jazz festivals are seen by the regional authorities as a good way to increase local tourism by promoting an area's natural beauty, with all the economic benefits this brings. Two examples are Jazz Gunung
, set in spectacular volcanic mountains in East Java, and Jazz and Dive, a scuba-diving-cum-jazz festival on a remote island off the Indonesian coast of Borneo.
Jazz has a tradition in Indonesia dating back to the 1930s, Aryandari said, but tradition and tourism do not explain the rapid growth of jazz festivals in Indonesia. For many young Indonesians, Aryandari explained, jazz represents modernity and sophistication. It is cool and fun to attend jazz festivals. Jazz festivals exemplify a lifestyle and, Aryandari said, a social mobility.
In summary, Aryandari described how the festivalisation of jazz in Indonesia animates an urban or rural space, influences people's lifestyle, generates economic benefits, improves the image of the host city, town or village, and brings locals, national tourists and foreign visitors alike, together in cultural celebration.
The second paper, titled Documenting Jazz Through Music Competitions: A Belgian Case Study
, was presented by Matthias Heyman of University of Antwerp/Royal Conservatoire Antwerp and focused specifically on the B-Jazz International Contest in Belgium, which has been running since 1979, and on how jazz competitions in general can play an important role in documenting and signifying multiple aspects of jazz culture.
For context, Heyman began with a brief history of the jazz competition. Jazz competitions go back as far as the early 1920s in the US, Heyman said, but really grew and expanded in Europe, firstly in the UK with dance band competitions in the mid-1920s. Jazz competitions in Continental Europe began, as far as records show, in the early 1930s. Not even WWII could stop certain competitions and they gained greater momentum from the 1950s on. These days jazz competitions are held throughout the world, embracing diverse formats from big-band to soloist, amateur and professional, local and global.
Although critics deem jazz competitions to be redundant and against the spirit of creating art, nevertheless, the popularity of jazz competitions is indisputable, Heyman asserted, and for this reason they cannot be neglected in jazz literature.
The B-Jazz International Contest, founded in 1979, was originally called Jazz Hoeilaart, after a small town just outside Brussels, and as well as a name change has also relocated to Loeven. Early editions drew bands from across Belgium and The Netherlands but finalists from other European countries soon appeared and as of 2018, B-Jazz International Contest attracts competitors from every corner of the world. The format is open, though typically B-Jazz sees mostly quartets and quintets competing. Six finalists compete and the age limit for participation is thirty years of age.
All genres and styles of jazz are allowed. One Belgium tune is mandatory, though it can be arranged and interpreted in any style. Over the years finalists have been broadcasted on radio and television and the top four recorded on CD, but today there is only live streaming. Participants receive professional audio and video recordings of their performances. Winners get to undertake an international concert tour and, with a view to building networks, get to meet various representatives of the culture industry.
Heyman's recounted how his research into B-Jazz International Contest and the Herbie Hancock Institute of |Jazz Competition (formerly the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Competition) aims to illustrate the relationship between jazz competitions and notions of authenticity, identity, ownership, as well as public reception.
On this latter point Heyman alluded to potentially different public perceptions of jazz competitions as 'high-brow' or 'low-brow,' notions related to the formality of the competition's location, its presentation style, whether there is a monetary award for the winners and the cost of tickets for the public. In the case of B-Jazz International Contest tickets cost seven Euros, compared to $40-$140 for attendance at the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Competition.
From a performative perspective, Heyman noted how choice of repertoire and dress codes (or lack of) are also important signifiers, feeding into narratives of tradition/innovation, high culture/popular music. In conclusion, Heyman said that studying jazz competitions can reveal much about the values and meanings associated with jazz on multiple levels. Heyman's research project into jazz competitions is ongoing.
The third and final paper in this session, presented by Cyril Moshkow of Jazz Ru. Magazine and Russian Jazz Research Center, was titled 1960s Soviet Jazz Live Recordings on Vinyl: An LP Docudrama
Jazz history in Russia, Moshkow said, began on 1st October 1922 with the first documented jazz concert in Moscow. Thereafter, jazz has had a controversial history in Russia. The focus of Moshkow's paper was a series of LPs released on the Soviet record label Melodiya. Four LPs, Jazz 65
, Jazz 66
, Jazz 67
and Jazz 68
are highly accessible documents of the Moscow Jazz Festival during those years. Ease of access to these LPs, now half a century old, is because Melodiya printed hundreds of thousands of copies. Many originals still abound in Moscow street markets and record shops, selling for as little as seven Euros.
Jazz in Russia, Moshkow explained, had two beginnings. Firstly in 1922, running until 1946, and then after a nine-year gap when post-WWII the Iron Curtain fell between East and West and there was very little contact between Russia and western culturesa reboot in 1955. There resulted, Mishkow said, a cultural gap between jazz musicians of the pre-war and post-war years.
Not only did the jazz musicians of the 1950s play a different jazz to the Russian jazz musicians of the 1930s and 1940s, Mishkow said, but "they sort of despised the older styles of Soviet jazz music as being too Soviet"
. In other words, the 1950s jazz musicians, reared on Willis Conover's Voice of America jazz broadcasts, were critical of the older generation for playing music that, as they saw it, pandered to popular tastes.
The impact of Willis Conover's nightly broadcasts was immense. As there was no such thing as a jazz curriculum in third level education in Russia until 1974, Conover's jazz programme provided the jazz education for many in Russia and across Eastern Europe, with large numbers of jazz musicians and aficionados recording the broadcasts. "Most of the musicians were classically trained. They had no idea about jazz. They had to figure out the music for themselves"
, said Moshkow.
Jazz festivals were permitted by the Soviet authorities in 1962, when the first one was held in Moscow. This was a festival and a competition at the same time, Moshkow explained: "The Soviet authorities couldn't think of a jazz festival that wasn't a competition. It must be proven that somebody is better then the others and there are worthy examples that should be followed."
Regarding the LPs, Moshkow described how the two-LP set from the 1965 Moscow Jazz Festival was a fake live recording as Melodiya didn't have the technical capacity to record live concerts at that time. Afterwards, the competition winners dutifully recreated what they had played during the festival for a studio recording, with fake applause added. The subsequent festivals of the next three years were properly recorded live.
Nine of the sixteen bands who played the 1965 Moscow Jazz Festival were included on the studio recordings. The compilation featured only two American jazz standards as the musicians were required to play one piece by a Soviet composer, two originals and possibly one American standard, though musicians were encouraged to write their own tunes. The body of the compositions were typically Russian in tone, based on a popular folk melody, Moshkow said, while the solos were in the bebop and hard bop idioms.
Moshkow presented several photographs capturing the stage and audience of those years, highlighting significant musicians and competition judges. One outstanding musician noted by Moshkow was trumpeter Valery Ponomarev
, who left the Soviet Union in the 1970s. He realized an ambition, considered unlikely for a Russian jazz musician at that time, by joining Art Blakey
's Jazz Messengers, with whom he made a handful of recordings.
Melodiya continued to record throughout the 1970s, with branches in the Baltic countries of the former Soviet Union, but the four LPs mentioned in this paper remain, Moshkow said, the best documents of the Moscow Jazz Festival between 1965 and 1968.
Lecture Recital: Documenting the Standards
The final slot of the third day of Documenting Jazz offered a further three panels, including panels on jazz journalism and recording jazz. However, it seemed fitting to conclude this coverage of Documenting Jazz with some live jazz.
As a jazz pianist and singer, Tish Oney has garnered critical acclaim for her albums such as Forever Friend
(Rhombus Records, 2002), Sweet Youth
(Bluejazz, 2011) and Songs from the Heart
(DGT Productions, 2015). An arranger, Artist-in-Residence and award-winning professor of music at numerous US universities, Dr. Oney is also a high-profile educator and has been writing the Anatomy of a Standard
column for All About Jazz since 2016.
In Oney's column for All About Jazz she examines the criteria that constitute a jazz standard, what makes a standard stand the test of time, and how jazz standards are documented from an analytical point of view. For this performative lecture, Oney focused primarily on the analysis of the synthesis of lyrics and music. For Oney, the lyrics of a jazz standard are inseparable from the music in appreciating its value. "When you consider both together a beautiful kaleidoscopic collision often occurs"
, Oney said. For Oney, as for the great song-writing teams, lyrics and music are integral to the appeal of jazz standards.
Oney presented five songs from her Anatomy of a Standard
column, illustrating the harmonic patterns, the melodic contours, the themes inherent in the lyrics, the source and style of the lyrics and rhyme patterns. Oney began, however, with a fluid scat that led into a vocal-only version of the Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields' song "Pick Yourself Up," a song she typically opens or close her concerts with. Oney then demonstrated how the lyrics and music perform the same mission to uplift the listener and how the bridge harmony and melody propel the music forward.
It was fascinating to listen to Oney musically dissect and signpost where musical and lyrical phrases align and where the diverge, how the rising-falling melodic and harmonic contours of Bernice Petkere's "Close Your Eyes" suggest the motion of a pendulum or rocking cradle, on what is a lullaby, or how classical and jazz elements combine on Duke Ellington
/Irving Gordon/Irving Mills' "Prelude to a Kiss"a song Oney described as technically very challenging for singers.
On Fats Waller/Andy Razaf's "Ain't Misbehavin'" and Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke's ""Here's That Rainy Day," Oney highlighted rhyme patterns, use of tension and release, and balance between text and music. Analysis aside, Oney's vocal phrasing, notably on "Prelude to a Kiss" and "Here's That Rainy Day" and her elegant, nuanced piano playing was simply delightful.
In conclusion, Oney advocated the dual analysis of music and lyrics when considering the jazz standards to create better informed performing artists and jazz scholars alike. In addition, Oney said, We spread awareness of what a total work of art these songs really are."
. Studying jazz standards can help modern song-writers create enduring works, because, Oney said, "these recipes haven't failed."
The final words on Documenting Jazz went to Damian Evans and Pedro Cravinho. Evans, who tenaciously holding off applause until the end, thanked a long list of people for their support in helping put together the conference, particularly all the presenters. Cravinho echoed Evans gratitude to all the archivists, documenters and researchers around the world, who strive to get to grips with the multiple meanings of jazz and its reception. Documenting Jazz was, Cravinho said, the start of a conversation between the members of a global community that will continue in 2020 when the second edition of Documenting Jazz will be held at Birmingham City University.
The range of subjects addressed in the seventy or so papers presented during the three days of Documenting Jazz underlined just how fertile jazz is as a subject for academics to debunk and debate, to theorize and reimagine.
Some of the papers commanded more attention than others, not so much for the content as for the style of delivery. Many presenters opted to read verbatim from their texts, which was fine, but verbal galloping stresses the ears and patience of an audiencemuch you suspect, as bebop did for swing fans when it first took off.
The art of addressing an audience, of voice projection, and punctuation, was not the forte of some of the presenters. For most, content was everything; accuracy of information; authenticity of sources, cross-referencing, the presentation and forensic pursuit of theories.
Perhaps academics, with their largely objective lenses, are best placed to dissect the ambiguities and dualities, the contradictions and controversies, the politics and economics that are a part and parcel of jazz's history. The more digging that academics and researchers do on jazz the more questions that arise. And often, as Documenting Jazz, revealed, the questions and the ripples they continually provoke can be as engaging as the music itself.
Photo: Courtesy of Natalia Kravchenko/Jazz.Ru Magazine