New chapter on Winnie Atwell

BBJ cover imageI’m very pleased to be part of a new book, Black British Jazz: Routes, Ownership and Performance, edited by Jason Toynbee, Catherine Tackley and Mark Doffman, in which I go back to look again at the 1950s pianist, chart-topper, and television presenter, Winifred Atwell. My chapter is called ‘Winifred Atwell and her “other piano”: 16 hit singles and “a blanket of silence”, sounding the limits of jazz’. You can find information about all the chapters for the entire collection at the Black British Jazz contents page, while below is the book’s blurb:

Black British musicians have been making jazz since around 1920 when the genre first arrived in Britain. This groundbreaking book reveals their hidden history and major contribution to the development of jazz in the UK. More than this, though, the chapters show the importance of black British jazz in terms of musical hybridity and the cultural significance of race. Decades before Steel Pulse, Soul II Soul, or Dizzee Rascal pushed their way into the mainstream, black British musicians were playing jazz in venues up and down the country from dance halls to tiny clubs. In an important sense, then, black British jazz demonstrates the crucial importance of musical migration in the musical history of the nation, and the links between popular and avant-garde forms. But the volume also provides a case study in how music of the African diaspora reverberates around the world, beyond the shores of the USA—the engine-house of global black music. As such it will engage scholars of music and cultural studies not only in Britain, but across the world.

… From Tunapuna, Trinidad, Winifred Atwell (c. 1914-1983) was a classically trained ragtime and boogie-woogie style pianist who gained quite remarkable popularity in Britain, and later also Australia, in the 1950s, in live and recorded music, as well as in the developing television industry. In this chapter I outline her extraordinary international musical biography as a chart-topping pop and television star—innovative achievements for a black migrant female musician which are arguably thrown into more dramatic light by virtue of the fact that Atwell has been Wiinifred Atwell and her 'other piano' with rhythm accompaniment (no. 1, 1954)and remains a neglected figure in media and popular music (let alone jazz) history. I pay particular attention to her performative tactics and repertoire, developing material I introduced first in Circular Breathing: The Cultural Politics of Jazz in Britain. But our interest in Atwell should stem not only from her position as a significant figure neglected by history, for she speaks also to definitional issues of jazz. The chapter progresses into a discussion of the extent to which Atwell is a limit case of jazz in the developing pop world of the 1950s on….

Atwell topped the British singles charts twice, with 14 other top-30 singles during the 1950s, and she was also the first black million-selling singles artist in British pop history. Most of these achievements were the result of her playing jazz-derived instrumental music (solo or with a trio or quartet: piano-guitar-bass-drums). (Here you can read an interview I did with her drummer from the period, Colin Bailey.) Hers was a striking early example of a multiplatform media and music success: prestigious live performances and international tours, hit records, pop-jazz and classical repertoires, radio broadcasts, sheet music and piano instruction book sales, television presenter fronting her own series (on both main British channels and in Australia), and film appearances on screen and in the soundtrack….

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Beyond Jazz Borders conference, Amsterdam

RC 2014 conference_logoThe third annual Rhythm Changes conference starts on 4 September … in Amsterdam … and I’m delighted to have been involved as a member of the organising committee, led by the very wonderful Prof Walter van de Leur. Here is the draft schedule of events, while below—why not?—is a list of all the papers, talks and events, in alphabetical order of speaker’s name. Almost one hundred …  that’s impressive. really, for an international conference dedicated to the music we call jazz.

  1. Lisa Barg – “Composer-Arranger-Seamstress?”: Melba Liston, Gender, Arranging, and Jazz History – McGill University
  2. Andrew Berish – What is jazz supposed to feel like?: Tin Pan Alley, Sentimentality and Jazz – Associate Professor, Humanities and Cultural Studies Dept., University of South Florida
  3. Nathan Blustein – Erwin Schulhoff’s Cinq études and European Jazz in the 1920s – PhD Candidate, Department of Music Theory, Indiana University
  4. Matthew Boden – Swingin’ Down Under: The Barrelhouse Four – PhD Candidate, Lecturer in Jazz and Classical Studies, Conservatorium of Music, Tasmanian College of the Arts
  5. David Brackett – Swing in the 1940s: Probing the Borders of Jazz and Pop – McGill University
  6. Darius Brubeck – Cultural Diplomacy – Former Director of the Centre for Jazz & Popular Music at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
  7. Christa Bruckner-Haring – “Musik war es sicher nicht, was diese Herren boten, sie machten ein Heidenspektakel”: Early Jazz Reception in Austria after World War I – Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz (KUG), Austria
  8. Robert Burke – Analysis and observations of pre-learnt and idiosyncratic elements in improvisation: a reflective study in jazz performance – Head of The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Coordinator of Jazz and Popular Music, JMonash University
  9. Jerome Camal – Jazz and Gwoka: A Diasporic Polyrhythm? – Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  10. Gretchen Carlson – Jazz Heaven”: Woody Allen’s Jazz Compilation Soundtracks and Cultural Subtexts – PhD Candidate, University of Virginia
  11. Jean Cook – Jazz Research – Mapping the Field under the Jazz Futures heading (round-table discussion)
  12. Pedro Cravinho – Free Jazz, Free Portugal: Sounds of Freedom During the Last Years of the Estado Novo Regime (1971-1974) – University of Aveiro
  13. Kinga Csizmas – Hungarian jazz musicians (Poster) – Corvinus University of Budapest
  14. Scott Currie – Between Noise and (N)ostalgia: A Berlin Jazz Collective’s Challenge to Post-Transition Borders of Geography and Generation – University of Minnesota
  15. Lindelwa Dalamba – Kongi’s Harvest: Jazz and the Rituals of a Postcolonial World – University of the Witwatersrand
  16. Lawrence Davies – ‘These people know more about me than I do’: Robert Lockwood’s Histories of the Blues – King’s College London
  17. Scott DeVeaux – Reclaiming Fusion – Professor, McIntire Dept. of Music, Director of Undergraduate Programs, University of Virginia
  18. José Dias – ‘Unity in Diversity’: Jazz and the European narrative – PhD Candidate, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
  19. Frédéric Döhl – …a tremendous dividing line: About André Previns Experiences with Changeovers between Jazz and Art Music – Freie Universität Berlin
  20. Mario Dunkel – W. C. Handy, Edward Abbe Niles, and the Invention of Hot Jazz – Department of Music and Musicology Technische Universität Dortmund
  21. Anne Dvinge – Jazz carnival or Business Empire? The Change from the Local Newport Jazz Festival to the Global JVC Jazz Festival – Independent Researcher
  22. Alison Eales – ‘Jazz, Blues, (Reggae), Funk, Soul, World’: Programming and Promoting Glasgow (International) Jazz Festival- PhD Candidate, University of Glasgow
  23. Jonathan Eato – A Climbing Vine Through Concrete: Jazz in 1960s Apartheid South Africa – University of York
  24. Damian Evans – Scene and Unseen: Negotiation and contestation within a jazz scene – PhD Candidate, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland
  25. Roger Fagge – “Is there a new art form somewhere here or is the western mind breaking down?”: British writers respond to jazz post 1945 (Panel sponsored by The University of Chicago Press) – Director, Comparative American Studies, Department of History, University of Warwick
  26. Steven Feld – Keynote. (Sponsored by Birmingham City University) – Distinguished porfessor of Antrhopology and Music, University of New Mexico
  27. Kevin Fellesz – Polishing the Ivories: Re-Thinking “Jazz Piano” (Panel) – Assistant Professor of Music, Institute for Research in African American Studies Columbia University
  28. Raphael Ferreira – The issue of style in the music of Hermeto Pascoal – Federal University of Uberlândia
  29. Petter Frost Fadnes – Improvisational conduct and case studies from the margins: An insider’s view on negotiating the collective- Department of Music and Dance, University of Stavanger
  30. Andy Fry – “This is Jazz”: New Orleans Jazz Revival in International Perspective – King’s College, London
  31. Jamie Fyffe – Signifyin(g) the Blues: The Compositional Style of Miles Davis (Poster) – University of Glasgow
  32. John Gabriel – Hanns Eisler and Motorik: Expanding the Borders of Jazz’s Influence on German Music – PhD Candidate, Harvard University
  33. Nicholas Gebhardt – Must We Mean What We Play? (With Apologies to Stanley Cavell) (Panel sponsored by The University of Chicago Press) – Birmingham City University
  34. John Gennari- Keynote. Rethinking Jazz and Jazz Studies through Jason Moran’s Multimedia Performance. (Sponsored by The Open University UK) – Associate Professor, University of Vermont
  35. Zbigniew Granat – A Quest for a Pan-European Identity: Komeda, Berendt, and the Politics of a “Sweet European Home” – Assistant Professor, Nazareth College, Rochester, New York
  36. Martin Guerpin – Between Cocteau, dada and neoclassicism: The carnivalesque role of jazz in French art music (1919-1922)- PhD Candidate, Université Paris-Sorbonne / Université de Montréal
  37. David Harnish & Jeremy Wallach – Dance to Your Roots: Border-Crossing with Krakatau, Indonesia’s Jazz-Gamelan Fusion Band (joint paper) – Chair and Professor, Music Department, University of San Diego
  38. Charles Hersch – “Matzo Balls-ereenie”: Ethnic Hybridity in African American Jazz Versions of Jewish Songs – Professor, Department of Political Science, Cleveland State University
  39. Monika Herzig – Jazz Research – Mapping the Field under the Jazz Futures heading (round-table discussion) – Jazz Pianist & Professor, Indiana University Jazz Education Network (JEN);
  40. Matthias Heyman – “And the Winner is…”: The Role of the Jazz Contest in Interbellum Belgium – PhD Candidate, University of Antwerp
  41. Iván Iglesias – Jazz and Social Revolution in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) – University of Valladolid
  42. Ole Izard Høyer – When Danish jazz became “Danish” – Assistant Prof., Department of Culture and Global Studies, Centre for Danish Jazz Studies
  43. Adil Johan – The Cosmopolitan Jazz Hero: Negotiating Class, Gender, Modernity and an Emerging Nation in 1960s Malay Films – PhD Candidate in Music Research, King’s College London
  44. Michael Kahr – Jazz Beyond the Borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran- Institute für Jazz und Jazzforschung
  45. Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Graz
  46. Peter Keppy – The quest for modern womanhood: Filipina flappers,bailerina’s and beauty queens. – NIOD Institute for War-, Holocaust-, and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam
  47. Bob Lawson-Peebles – The Meaning of Jazz and the Assault on Maidenhead – Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow, Honorary University Fellow, University of Exeter
  48. David Lee – New York, Modernism and the Artists Jazz Band- PhD Candidate, School of English & Theatre Studies, University of Guelph
  49. Steven Lewis – Marsalis Plays Bolden: Wynton Marsalis and the First Man of Jazz- PhD Candidate, McIntire Department of Music, University of Virginia
  50. Mark Lomanno – ‘Tinged with Imminence’: Improvising Translation and Performing Jazz Research – Visiting Assistant Professor and Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow of Ethnomusicology and Jazz Studies, Swarthmore College
  51. Andrea Low – Ernest Kaai & A Night in Honolulu – Jazz, Race and Empire in the Asia Pacific Region 1919-1937 – PhD Candidate, University of Auckland
  52. Francesco Martinelli – A Night in Tunesia or the hidden link: the influence of Islamic music and culture on the birth and development of jazz- Director of the Siena Jazz Archive; History of Jazz professor at Leghorn Conservatory
  53. Kristin McGee – Popular jazz, digital aesthetics and transnational networks in the New Europe – Associate Professor of Popular Music, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  54. George McKay – Carnivalising the creative economy:  a short film about co-produced research, on and with British jazz festivals  – University of Salford
  55. Haftor Medbøe – Dictated dichotomies: Locating Scandinavian jazz – Jazz Musician in Residence, Lecturer in Composition, School of Arts and Creative Industries, Edinburgh Napier University
  56. Vincent Meelberg – Composing Instantly: Conceiving Musical Improvisation as Compositional Practice – Radboud University Nijmegen, Department of Cultural Studies
  57. Pedro Mendes – “Our main struggle was to create conditions to be professional jazz musicians”: the beginning of the Hot Clube de Portugal’s School of Jazz and the idea of becoming a “professional jazz musician” – INET-MD Institut of Ethnomusicology. Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa
  58. Cyril Moshkow – Jazz Journalism in Russia: From Underground To Reservation In Sixty Years – Jazz.Ru Magazine
  59. Ben Norton – Dealing with #BAM: Nicholas Payton and Jazz Studies. (Poster) – University of Hull, School of Drama, Music and Screen (Music)
  60. Ben Phipps – Constructing the role of the bass player in jazz history: From foundation to artistic expression. – PhD Candidate, University of New South Wales
  61. Acácio Piedade – Topics in Brazilian Jazz: friction of musicalities and rhetoricity (Panel sponsored by The University of Chicago Press) – Music Dept Music Graduate Studies, University of the State of Santa Catarina
  62. Nicolas Pillai – Len Lye’s A Colour Box: jazz, paint and cinematic waste – University of Warwick
  63. Ari Poutiainen – Instruments in Margin: Comparison of Flute, Violin and More Common Jazz Instruments – University lecturer of music education
  64. Ken Prouty – “Minstrel Hokum” and “Practical Jazzes”: Tailgate Trombone, Popular Music, and the Elusiveness of Jazz History – Associate Professor, Area Chair, Musicology and Ethnomusicology, Michigan State University
  65. Sarah C. Provost – Bringing Something New: Creativity, Inspiration, and Female Jazz Performers – Assistant Professor of Musicology, University of North Florida
  66. Bruce Raeburn – Reflections of Senegambia in New Orleans Jazz – Hogan Jazz Archive & Tulane University
  67. Heli Reimann – ‘Neither allowed nor forbidden’: paradoxes of Soviet society and conceptualization of jazz – University of Helsinki
  68. Jason Robinson – Improvising diaspora: tradition and expansion in the gnawa collaborations of Pharoah Sanders, Randy Weston, and Archie Shepp – Assistant Professor, Department of Music, Amherst College
  69. Alex W. Rodriguez – Chile’s “La Resistencia” and Transnational Jazz Practice – PhD Candidate, University of California, Los Angeles
  70. Johanna-Marie Rohlf – Sitting on the fence? Early Jazz in Berlin and Paris – PhD Candidate, Center for Metropolitan Studies Berlin (CMS)
  71. Pedro Roxo & Miguel Lourenço – Crossing Mind and Geographic Borders but Fixing Jazz Music Boundaries: The Foundation of Hot Clube de Portugal in the late 40s. – INET-MD Institut of Ethnomusicology. Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa
  72. Loes Rusch – Jazz Behind the Dikes to New Dutch Swing: Critics and the Emancipation of Jazz in the Netherlands – University of Amsterdam
  73. Jean-Michel Saint-Paul – Bending New Corners (1999) of Erik Truffaz. The influence of hip hop in jazz music and how an acoustic quartet sounds as an electric group. – University of Paris VIII Saint-Denis
  74. Fritz Schenker – Revisiting jazz latitude: Filipino musicians and empire in 1920’s colonial Asia – PhD Candidate, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  75. Ursel Schlicht – SonicExchange: Music Beyond Categories – Pianist
  76. Floris Schuiling – On the borders of modernism: The Instant Composers Pool between Free Jazz, Darmstadt and Fluxus – PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge
  77. Nathan Seinen – Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly as jazz-rock de-fusion and historical critique – Assistant Professor, Chinese University of Hong Kong
  78. Tamar Sella – A Link in the Chain: Israeli Jazz Musicians and the Berklee College of Music – PhD Candidate, in ethnomusicology, Harvard University
  79. Alan Stanbridge – All the Rest is Propaganda: Jazz, Class, and Race in British New Wave Cinema – Associate Professor, Department of Arts, Culture and Media, University of Toronto
  80. Paul Steinbeck- Hyperinteractivity: George Lewis’s Voyager, Improvisation, and the Frontiers of Analysis – Assistant Professor of Music Theory, Washington University in St. Louis
  81. Yoko Suzuki – Polishing the Ivories: Re-Thinking “Jazz Piano” (Panel) – Lecturer, University of Pittsburgh
  82. Tom Sykes – Redefining the borders? Jazz scenes and social media – University of Salford
  83. Catherine Tackley – Rhythm Clubs: Ideals and Realities – Senior Lecturer in Music, The Open University
  84. Jeffrey Taylor – Polishing the Ivories: Re-Thinking “Jazz Piano” (Panel) – Professor, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
  85. Walter van de Leur – “When I Die, You Better Second Line”: Jazz and Death – Professor of Jazz and Improvised Music, Conservatorium van Amsterdam & University of Amsterdam
  86. Mischa van Kan – Swedish Modern: from furniture to jazz – PhD Candidate, Gothenburg University
  87. Tim Wall – The line between jazz and not-jazz: music broadcasting and the BBC 1923 to 1953- Birmingham City University
  88. Hans Weisethaunet – Enter the Recording Studio: ECM recordings as artistic expression and cultural practice – Professor, University of Oslo
  89. Meredith K. White – Jazz musician as insider-outsider – Senior Lecturer in Music, Kingston University, Surrey
  90. Tony Whyton – On Jazz and Cultural Diplomacy: A Conversation between Darius Brubeck and Tony Whyton – University of Salford
  91. Iwan Wopereis – Boundary crossing in improvisational expertise development – PhD Candidate, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Open University of the Netherlands
  92. Toby Wren – Jazz mutants in the antipodes – Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University
  93. Brian F. Wright – “All You Get is an Amplified Plink-Plonk”: Monk Montgomery, the Electric Bass, and Policing Aesthetic Boundaries in 1950s Jazz- PhD Candidate, Musicology, Case Western Reserve University
  94. Juan Zagalaz – Paco de Lucía and the impact of jazz in the renovation of flamenco (1978 – 1990) – Universidad de Castilla – La Mancha
  95. Per Zanussi – Composing for improvisors – Research Fellow at University of Stavanger, Dept of Music and Dance
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The Pop Festival, edited collection (out 2015), cover sneak preview

The Pop Festival cover

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