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Improvising in Place: An Interdisicplinary Jazz Studies Colloquium

“Improvising in Place: An Interdisciplinary Jazz Studies Colloquium”
Monday, March 2, 2015, 8 am - 7 pm
Location I: 8 am-12:45 pm at The Commons
Location II: 2:00-5:30 pm at the Hall Center for the Humanities (reception to follow)

This all-day jazz studies colloquium is an exploration of “place,” broadly defined, as a set of grounded parameters that are pushed, reshaped, and produced by creative improvisers. Morning panels at The Commons cover such ground as the effects of particular urban and rural social geographies of race, nation, ethnicity, gender, and other factors on sounds, venues, and styles (and vice versa). Afternoon events at the Hall Center include a panel featuring KU professor and filmmaker Kevin Willmott on the days (not so long ago) when students could get kicked out of the practice rooms at KU for playing jazz. Big XII Faculty Fellow, Dr. Charles Carson (Musicology and Ethnomusicology, UT Austin) will deliver the keynote talk, “Philadelphia Stories: Race, Place, and the Jazz Geography of the City of Brotherly Love.” Carson is a musicologist whose interests are African-American/American expressive cultures, popular music, jazz, film music, and music and culture. KU Jazz Combo 1 will perform a selection of Philadelphia jazz, proving irrefutably that jazz is alive and well in the practice rooms at KU today. 

In conjunction with the KU Jazz Festival (March 6-7, 2015)
Sponsors Include: the KU Interdisciplinary Jazz Studies Group, The Hall Center for the Humanities, The Commons at the University of Kansas, the KU School of Music, the KU Jazz Festival, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the KU Department of American Studies, the KU Department of Dance, the Hall Center Place, Race, and Space Seminar, the Big XII Faculty Fellowship and the Keeler Family Intra-University Professorship.

Monday, March 2, 2015
8:00-8:15       Welcome
8:15-9:45       SESSION 1
Off (and On) the Beaten Path: Crossings, Fusions, and Convergences in the Jazz We Thought We Knew
Moderator: Tony Bolden, African and African American Studies, KU
“Jazz Me Blues: Chicago’s South Side Jazz Bands, the City Style, and the Thin Blue(s) Line,” Roberta Freund Schwartz, Music
In Depression-Era Chicago, both jazz bands and blues artists explored the “thin blue line” that separated the two genres.  The locally-based bands that performed in the clubs, cabarets, and dance halls of Bronzeville and the South Side needed to appeal to local audiences and record buyers; they freely mixed collective improvisation, homophonic arrangements (or passable facsimiles) of popular blues records and dances, musical tropes of vaudeville, minstrel and medicine shows, and local trends in ways that often skirt the line between jazz and blues.  These bands and/or their members also frequently accompanied blues singers and served as sidemen for blues sessions in the late 1920s and early 1930s.  Likewise, more than a few blues musicians played with local jazz outfits, headed or performed with ensembles that fused elements of the two styles, and emulated or absorbed characteristics of contemporary jazz.
"Jazz on the Reservation: Lionel Hampton and the Nez Perce of North Idaho," Ashley Hirt, Music
Lionel Hampton and his big band first traveled to Moscow, Idaho in 1984 to perform at the University of Idaho Jazz Festival. This visit would prove to be auspicious for both Hampton and the festival itself. Hampton's immediate love of the region and its people led to the creation of an educational outreach program, and Hampton performed on the Nez Perce reservation each year from 1996 until his death. Working with the young people of the Nez Perce tribe, Hampton influenced a new generation of jazz musicians and played a pivotal role in founding a thriving culture of jazz education in North Idaho.
“Race is the Place: Avant-Garde Jazz in Kansas City,” Pete Williams, American Studies
This presentation will look at how the changing parameters of racialized space in Kansas City since the 1960's helped shape the subjectivities and sounds of avant-garde jazz there. I will examine how (mostly white) musicians in the 20th and 21st centuries negotiate issues of race, place, and jazz history as they build communities of sound in one of the "cradles of jazz," decades after its supposed "heyday."
10:00-11:30  Session II
Power Lines and Wireless Connections: Improvising Race, Place and Difference
Moderator: Philip Barnard, Dept. of English, University of Kansas
"A White Place for Jazz: Leonard Bernstein as Jazz Composer and Commentator, 1947-55," Paul Laird, Music
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), although first identified with classical music and theater music, was fascinated by jazz. He made use of its sounds in his compositions and more than once made it the subject of written articles or television broadcasts where he tried to explain the musical elements of jazz to his audience, which would have been largely white. This presentation will describe a published debate from 1947 between Bernstein and drummer Gene Krupa on whether or not jazz had influenced the symphony, a televised broadcast on jazz on Omnibus (1955), and Bernstein's use of the sounds of jazz in his compositions Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (1949), Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety (1949), and his Serenade After Plato's Symposium (1954).
“The J-Word: The Placelessness of Black Sovereignty in the Land of Genre,” Daniel Atkinson, Kansas African Studies Center
The conditional acceptance of Blackness, Black bodies and Black sovereignty in relation to jazz, a uniquely Afro-American phenomenon will be examined from the perspective of a cultural insider/outsider who belongs to the culture of creation, but not the culture of ownership and distribution.  In a similar manner to the dominant culture’s appropriation of the “N-word” in the US, which allows one to say Nigger without owning or acknowledging the inherent issue(s) associated with it, I will discuss the growing movement of musicians and scholars who now prefer the term “J-word” to signify jazz not as a genre, but rather a branch of the tree of Black American Music (BAM) interrelated with all other cultural products of Black people and Black communities. I will use Lorie Fridell’s work on bias as well as Nicholas Payton’s blog post, “On Why Jazz isn’t Cool Anymore” and the resulting backlash in the era of selective engagement with history, the new Jim Crow and the New Black in order to problematize issues of bias and power in the business of jazz.
“Sample. Improvise. Remix. Record. Play. Repeat: Echoing Beats Across Lines of Difference in Cyber-Sonic Collaboration,” Nicole Hodges Persley, University of Kansas Department of Theatre
This paper/performance will present an ethnographic experience of participating in the U.S. State Department One Beat Echo Fellowship from September 2014- December 2014 as a fellow of their One Beat Echo program. OneBeat is “an incubator for music-based social entrepreneurship where innovative musicians from around the world launch collaborative projects designed to make a positive impact on local and global communities.”(Echo Foundation 2014)  As a participating artist for over 3 months, I collaborated and made improvised music with sound artists from Malaysia, Spain and Egypt with no previous composing experience as a musician; only as an actor and director. I improvised through the holes in my process by supplementing with my experiences as a performer, fine artist and director to create several improvised recorded individual tracks that were created in a call and response format with artist in other countries. We compiled our various improvised responses to one another in a sonic landscape that maps our improvised connections and dissonances across barriers of culture, language, race, gender and space.
11:45 am-12:45 pm Session III
Uncommon Ground: Real-Time Improvisations of Space and Place
Moderator: Sherrie Tucker, American Studies
"Finding Place in Sun Ra's Space: The View from the Arkestra Pit," Kevin Fullerton, Music
This presentation is a look into the experience of performing in Sun Ra’s Arkestra. Sun Ra maintained high expectations of his band members and challenged them whenever he could. From blurring the lines between rehearsals and performances, to writing arrangements comprised of disparate elements, he was consistently obsessed with change.
“No map, No directions,” Michelle Heffner Hayes, Dance; Kip Haaheim, Music; and Jason Slote
            No abstract.
12:45-1:45     LUNCH BREAK
AFTERNOON EVENTS at The Hall Center for the Humanities
2:00-2:15 Welcome
2:15-3:15 “No Place for Jazz” Kevin Willmott, Film
        Willmott will share film clips from Jayhawkers and discusses the days not so long ago when jazz was not allowed at KU
3:30-4:30       Keynote Speaker: Charles Carson, Music, UT Austin
                        “Philadelphia Stories: Race, Place, and the Jazz Geography of the City of Brotherly Love”
            Co-sponsored by the Hall Center for the Humanities and the Hall Center Place, Race, and Space Seminar
4:30-5:30 Performance: KU Jazz Combo I
5:30-7:00 Reception

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