Documenting Jazz 2019

Ian Patterson By

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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 cultures—a 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.
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