Tag Archives: jazz

CFP – Jazz and Race, Past and Present

Jazz and Race, Past and Present

A conference at The Open University, 11-12 November, 2010

Keynote speaker: Guthrie Ramsey, Professor of Music, University of Pennsylvania and author of Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop (2003).

Emerging at the confluence of diverse streams, the genre we know as jazz was made predominantly by African-Americans for a good deal of its history. Indeed, African-American musicians and critics have often claimed the form as their own, part of their people’s struggle to assert their humanity in the face of a racialised structure of power which would deny it. However, year by year this position grows more difficult to sustain as jazz spreads around the world, and more musicians of other ethnic origins, and who are socially positioned in different ways, enter the field. Often they bring their own distinct musical and cultural resources to bear on the problem of making jazz. Meanwhile, of course, racial oppression persists in western and other societies.

The aims of the conference are to examine, refute or develop this account, and to do so across all the disciplines which touch on jazz. In particular, contributors might want to consider the following themes, or use them as points of departure. We wouldn’t want to be prescriptive though. Any proposal which addresses the problems of jazz and race, past and present is welcomed.

  • The nature and extent of black-ness in jazz in the ‘heroic age’, c1920-1970
  • Global jazz and ethnicities beyond black and white
  • Politics of remembering and not-remembering race
  • The African diaspora outside North America, e.g. black British jazz
  • Nationality and race in jazz
  • Race and the political economy of jazz
  • The ‘integrated’ group and inter-racial relations
  • Racial essentialism and musical hybridity
  • Mediating race and jazz: novels, films, television, new media … .
  • Subject position, objectivity and writing jazz
  • White audiences, black musicians
  • Racialised aesthetics of authenticity, primitivism and the exotic
  • Being and signifying black, white and beyond in jazz
  • Race and policing the borders of jazz
  • Questioning orthodoxies: ‘Swing plus blues’, ‘a natural sense of rhythm’ and so on
  • Prospects for a post-racial jazz
  • Stylistic change and the politics of race
  • Racialising history or telling it like it is? Realism and narratives of race in jazz
  • Race, performance and musical form.

Proposals for 20 minute papers should be between 150 and 200 words in length. Please send to Jazz-and-Race-conference (at) open.ac.uk making sure you include the paper title, your name, affiliation, full postal address and email address. Closing date for submission is Friday 2nd July, 2010 .

More information here.

Le Jazz: Jazz and French Cultural Identity – Matthew F. Jordan

Matthew F. Jordan. Le Jazz: Jazz and French Cultural Identity. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2010.

From the publishers website:

How the public debate on jazz shaped French identity

In Le Jazz, Matthew F. Jordan deftly blends textual analysis, critical theory, and cultural history in a wide-ranging and highly readable account of how jazz progressed from a foreign cultural innovation met with resistance by French traditionalists to a naturalized component of the country’s identity. Jordan draws on sources including ephemeral critical writing in the press and twentieth-century French literature to trace the country’s reception of jazz, from the Cakewalk dance craze and the music’s significance as a harbinger of cultural recovery after World War II to its place within French ethnography and cultural hybridity.

Countering the histories of jazz’s celebratory reception in France, Jordan delves into the reluctance of many French citizens to accept jazz with the same enthusiasm as the liberal humanists and cosmopolitan crowds of the 1930s. Jordan argues that some listeners and critics perceived jazz as a threat to traditional French culture, and only as France modernized its identity did jazz become compatible with notions of Frenchness. Le Jazz speaks to the power of enlivened debate about popular culture, art, and expression as the means for constructing a vibrant cultural identity, revealing crucial keys to understanding how the French have come to see themselves in the postwar world.

“This illuminating study of cultural discourses on jazz makes an original contribution to French popular music studies. Jordan scrutinizes an impressively wide range of texts, with perceptive and astute analyses.”–David Looseley, author of Popular Music in Contemporary France: Authenticity, Politics, Debate

Matthew F. Jordan is an assistant professor of film, video, and media studies at Pennsylvania State University.