In the interests of sparking conversation and spreading ideas more widely, we thought it would be good to capture a flavour of some of the discussions we’ve been having at our research meeting these past few days, and make them available for you to watch, overhear and respond to.
Think of this series of short videos as conversation starters, an invitation to engage and discuss ideas, as well as just an insight into some of the debates we’ve been having ourselves around these topics.
There are a few of these on the way on a range of different topics. In the above video, George McKay talks about some of the ideas he explored in Circular Breathing – the book he wrote about cultural politics and British jazz.
3 thoughts to “Conversation: Jazz in Europe”
Thank you for posting this. I copied the video on my own website too, and hopefully we will get some further wider interest. This is how I explained it there:
Here we are discussing the transnational and national in relation to European jazz, and I sketch the arguments I made in Circular Breathing (2005) about these questions. They revolve around three main sets of “outernational” (Paul Gilroy) interactions: transatlantic exchange, British imperial / Commonwealth networks, and European gazes.
My simplistic understanding of these are as dynamic movement (transatlantic exchange); static and temporally-bound political-economic context (Commonwealth / post-Empire); and myth or ideological frame (London’s ‘specialness’ and Europe as ‘the home of avant-garde’). In other words – what people do, where people are, and what people think.
Given that (and assuming that’s a helpful way to think about these things), does that mean that the way to best understand jazz in Europe is to analyse what people do, where they are, and what they think? And further, is the task then to identify and interrogate the practices, institutions and frameworks that shape those things?
I know in my own work, I try to find patterns within the online practices and conceptual frameworks around music and the internet – and I’ve been looking at those through the lens of the institutions (i.e.: the national jazz agencies). But what you say here makes me think that perhaps there’s something bigger to be looking at – and that is the way that the transnational movements, post-imperial institutions and conceptions of European-ness are shaped by and within the technological media context.
In other words, what does it mean (for instance) that TrioVD stream their rehearsals online in terms of what they do as jazz musicians, where they are situated within Europe, and how they think about their relationship to jazz mythologies?
This is interesting for musicians seeking a community of expression. Richard Middleton (in his book ‘Understanding Pop Music’ (1997) had this to say:
‘If we think of musical processes as taking place within a particular “space” – a space configured physically, sociologically and imaginatively – what becomes clear, then, is that the contours of this space are inflected by the specificities of the musical practice (which is why the word “context” seems a less adequate one).
This space is linked to, and overlaps with, others (school, work, shopping, growing up, going out, etc.) and overall is dependent upon the more general dynamics of political,social and media economies in post-war developed societies.Yet the requirements and conventions of specifically musical behaviour are active constituents and thus the pressures and momentum of particular repertories and practices should never be forgotten’. (p.28)