Documenting Jazz 2019

Ian Patterson By

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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 audience—much 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



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