Tag Archives: Americanisation

Rhythm Changes: Jazz and National Identities conference

Rhythm Changes:  Jazz and National Identities conference 2011
1-4 September 2011, Amsterdam

The first Rhythm Changes conference takes place in September 2011 and is hosted in partnership with the Conservatory of Amsterdam.  Rhythm Changes is a three-year EU Framework 7 research project, funded in the HERA programme, looking at jazz music Rhythm Changesand European cultural dynamics. The three-day conference explores the theme of ‘Jazz and National Identities’ and includes presentations from an international line-up of jazz researchers.

We are full of anticipation and excitement about the conference, which has been a year in the planning. Full programme information is available here.

Opening Concert Bimhuis

Rhythm ChangesThe Conference will open with a welcome reception and double-concert in the legendary Amsterdam jazz venue Bimhuis, on Thursday September 1.

The concert opens with Tin Men and the Telephone, one of the hippest, hottest bands out of the Conservatory of Amsterdam. It continues with the top-notch Dutch improv quartet MOORE/JANSSEN/GLERUM/ JANSSEN/VAN GEEL – with Michael Moore (reeds), Oene van Geel (viola), Guus Janssen (piano), Ernst Glerum (bass), and Wim Janssen (drums).

Keynote Speakers
Professor Bruce Johnson (Universities of Macquarie, Turku and Glasgow)
Professor Ronald Radano (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Conference outline

Throughout its history, jazz has played an important part in discourses about national identity, politics and cultural value; indeed, the music continues to play a complex role in the cultural life of nations worldwide. Within this context, jazz may be an ideal cultural form in which to explore a number of critical questions bound up with national identity, from the development of national sounds and ensembles to the politics of migration and race, from the impact of globalisation and the hybridisation of musical styles to the creation of social institutions and distinct communities, from jazz’s shifting aesthetic status from popular to canonical ‘art’ music.

Jazz has developed in a range of national settings through different influences and interactions, so is ideally placed to explore wider issues surrounding identity and inheritance, enabling unique perspectives on how culture is exchanged, adopted and transformed.

Conference Committee

Nicholas Gebhardt (University of Lancaster)
George McKay (University of Salford)
Walter van de Leur (Conservatory of Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam)
Loes Rusch (University of Amsterdam)
Tony Whyton (University of Salford).

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Indigenising jazz spaces: The Old Duke, Bristol, UK

[Post written originally for Rhythm Changes research project, and copied from its website]

Bristol in  the West Country is a noted stronghold of jazz practice in Britain–from, for instance, Acker Bilk (cl, trad) to Keith Tippett (p, free) and Andy Sheppard (ts, ss, contemporary). This famous local pub has struck me as an interesting spatial example of the way jazz is indigenised, if you like (not sure I do entirely),  has been adopted and adapted to the national cultural  practice. The dominant masculine space of the English pub has been one of those where jazz has happened (in Circular Breathing I suggested that the pub as jazz venue was one reason for jazz’s predominant masculinity in Britain)–so the very space of the traditional British pub was re-sounded by jazz in the 20th century. It’s worth remembering that a key space often referenced in British jazz histories for the development of the music was the Red Barn, Chislehurst, Kent, birthplace of George Webb’s Dixielanders.

But The Old Duke in a historic quarter of Bristol is more than that. Most pubs in Britain that are The Old Duke, or the Duke, are I think because historically they commemorate the military achievements of the Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The Old Duke has taken that English tradition of pub-naming–and of imperial history–and recontextualised it, subverted it, even signified it maybe.  (How signifyingly clever that the Dukes’ names are so very similar: W/Ellington!) After all, Bristol was a port the wealth of which was predicated in the 18th century on the triangulation trade, including the slave trade, and The Old Duke is by the Docks. So here at The Old Duke, as befits a jazz space,  a portrait of a white imperial old world hero (the Duke of Wellington) is replaced by one of a black transnational new world hero (Duke Ellington). In terms of cultural identity, Europe and America, history and modernity, jazz and public pleasure, The Old Duke fascinates.

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