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James Nichols

James Nichols is earning a PhD in American History and listening to the radio.

About Me

I like ensembles, aggregates, and conjuntos, especially when they play together and just make things up, pulling it out of the ethereal. Other than that, I'm a graduate student, amateur writer, and adjunct faculty traveling itinerantly around Queens and beyond, along the "made by Moses" circuits and crisscrossings that gut the megalopolis. Whenever I get a chance I stop by to see what sort of thing they're doing on the Lower East Side or in Brooklyn. I also travel a bit: to Eastern Europe with my Hungarian wife and, for all of next year, to Mexico. I am an aspiring academic but like to sometimes take a break with AAJ and write more prosaically. My dissertation is in history and illuminates how American slavery helped make meaningful an always mercurial border between Mexico and the United States. And it's got alot to do with freeing the race. I'd like to think my approach has been influenced by listening to jazz and other sorts of folk musics--of both the uptown and downhome varieties. No story can be told if we don't know anything about the soundtrack, righ? Come this September, I will be teasing roots out of a greater "America": I travel to Mexico City and then to the Northern frontier on a research fellowship from the Social Science Research Council. Does freedom travel? And can it be translated into (Latin) American vernaculars? Stay tuned... I 've also been known to play piano a bit. I like the adventurous stuff. And I really only listen to jazz on vinyl.

My Favorites

  1. Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
  2. Thelonious Monk - Solo Monk
  3. Mulatu Astatke - Ethiopiques compliatilon No. 4
  4. Bill Evans - Waltz for Debbie
  5. Horace Silver - The Cape Verdean Blues
  6. Lee Morgan - Cornbread
  7. Willie Nelson - Willie and Family Live