Rhythm Changes: Jazz Utopia- Registration information


Registration for Rhythm Changes: Jazz Utopia through the Eventbrite has now closed. If you are still waiting to pay the delegate fee, this will be possible at the conference venue from Friday morning onwards. Please ask the conference support staff on the registration table to provide you with more information. Day tickets are available on the day, priced at £45. Card and cash payments will be accepted and receipts available.


Registration opens on Thursday the 14th of April at 5pm in the foyer of BCU’s Parkside Building, City Centre Campus and will continue throughout the conference from 8.30am on Friday. All conference delegates are invited to attend the reception on Thursday evening (6-9pm), also to be held in the Parkside foyer.


External delegates will be provided with Wi-Fi log in details (to be found on the back of your name badge) and all delegates will receive a conference pack.


If you are interested in joining us for the Conference Supper, please click here to book your place and pay for your food (drinks to be ordered separately at the restaurant bar).

Rhythm Changes: Jazz Utopia Conference Reception- Opening Address by Soweto Kinch

Photo credit: Benjamin Amure
Photo credit: Benjamin Amure

The fourth Rhythm Changes conference, Jazz Utopia, will take place at Birmingham City University from Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 April 2016.

Nicholas Gebhardt and the conference committee are pleased to invite all conference delegates to attend the opening reception of Rhythm Changes IV – Jazz Utopia, between 18.00 and 21.00 on Thursday 14 April 2016 at:


The Parkside Building (Atrium)

Birmingham City University

5 Cardigan Street


B4 7BD


Award winning alto-saxophonist and MC Soweto Kinch is one of the most exciting and versatile young musicians in both the British jazz and hip hop scenes. Undoubtedly, one of the few artists in either genre with a degree in Modern History from Oxford University he has amassed an impressive list of accolades and awards on both sides of the Atlantic – including a Mercury Music Prize nomination, two UMA Awards and a MOBO for best Jazz Act in 2003. In October 2007, he won his second MOBO Award, at the O2 Arena, London where he was announced as the winner in the Best Jazz Act category- fending off stiff competition from the likes of Wynton Marsalis.

His skills as a hip hop MC and producer have also garnered him recognition in the urban music world: having supported the likes of KRS ONE, Dwele and TY, and being championed by the likes of Mos Def, Rodney P and BBC 1-Xtra’s Twin B.

Kinch’s projects also extend beyond recorded albums. Writing the score for Jonzi D’s Hip Hop Theatre production Markus the Sadist (2010), and Sampad’s In The Further Soil (2010), a dance-theatre. Kinch also wrote and acted in the latter piece, which toured throughout India for a month.


Rhythm Changes: Jazz Utopia- Plenary Performances

Jazz Utopia are pleased to present the plenary performances for Rhythm Changes 2016. Buses will transport delegates from the conference site to the venues, as noted in the conference schedule (available in delegate pack). Tickets for both performances are included within the delegate pack. Saturday night’s performance will follow the conference supper, hosted at Bar Utopia- please sign up for the conference supper by clicking here.


Sean Gibb’s MOSAIC

Friday 15 April 5-6:30pm – Symphony Hall Café Bar

MOSAIC is a band led by Sean Gibbs featuring some of the most exciting players from the Birmingham jazz scene. They play compositions of Sean’s that encompass influences from the jazz tradition alongside the earthy grooves of blues, rock and whatever else takes their fancy.

Sean Gibbs – Trumpet

Ben Lee – Guitar

Andy Bunting – Piano

Nick Jurd – Bass

Euan Palmer – Drums


Mike Fletcher Jazz Orchestra

Saturday 16 April 8pm – Adrian Boult Hall

Multi-Instrumentalist and composer Mike Fletcher leads his 12 piece jazz orchestra in a performance featuring the premiere of a ne
work written by the acclaimed Scottish composer Anna Meredith.

Alongside this new work the orchestra will perform music written by their leader whose primary interest is in balancing composition with improvisation, creating music that has a “free-wheeling, experimental atmosphere and the real vibrancy that music being created in the moment can have.”

As a nominee for the ECHO Rising Stars 2014/2015 programme Mike Fletcher has recently appeared at the Barbican Centre as part of the London Jazz Festival, Hamburg’s Laiezhalle and the CBSO Centre in Birmingham.

Anna Meredith is a composer, producer and performer of both acoustic and electronic, whose sound is frequently described as maximalist and uncategorisable. Her music has been performed everywhere from the BBC Last Night of the Proms to flashmob body-percussion performances in the M6 Services, PRADA fashion campaigns, numerous films, installations and documentaries, pop festivals, clubs and classical concert halls worldwide and broadcast on Radio 1, 2, 3, 4 & 6.

Performances Birmingham Limited gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Britten-Pears Foundation, the Hinrichsen Foundation, John Feeney Charitable Trust, and PRS for Music Foundation.

Jazz Promoters Network- Annual General Meeting

The first formal JPN Annual General Meeting will take place on 14th April (11.00-17.00) at Birmingham City University, followed by a Planning Conference. This meeting is held in association with the Rhythm Changes conference and welcomes Rhythm Changes delegates.

The election for JPN Board members will take place at the AGM, and only current members are eligible to vote (one vote per member organisation). Get in touch to enquire about joining or to renew your membership.


Registration via Eventbrite is free for JPN members and £30 + booking fee for non-members.

Schedule of AGM and Planning Conference

AGM Papers
JPN Chair’s Report April 2016 (pdf)
JPN Summary first period accounts at 31 March 2016 (pdf)

Venue details and map (external link)


Jazz Classics: Revisiting classic texts in jazz studies

Jazz Classics: Revisiting classic texts in jazz studies

Sunday 17th April

In our final session of Rhythm Changes: Jazz Utopia Alyn Shipton and Krin Gabbard – chaired by Fiona Talkington – will revisit classic texts in jazz studies.


Alyn Shipton was Consultant Editor of the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, and as an oral historian has edited the memoirs of Danny Barker, Doc Cheatham, George Shearing, Chris Barber, and most recently Billy J. Kramer. His book Groovin’ High, the life of Dizzy Gillespie, won the 1999 ARSC award for the best research of the year. His books on songwriter Jimmy McHugh and bandleader Cab Calloway were both finalists in the ARSC awards. Alyn’s most recent full-length biography, Nilsson, The Life of a Singer-Songwriter, won a Deems Taylor award as best pop biography of 2013 and the year’s ARSC award for pop music research.

His New History of Jazz, published in 2001, was Jazz Journalists’ Book of the Year, and won the Jazz Writer of the Year title in the British Jazz Awards. A revised edition appeared in 2007. Alyn read English Language and Literature at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. He later went on to take a PhD in music history at Oxford Brookes University. He has been a lecturer in music at Brookes (2002/3), and at City University (2012/13). He is now a Research Fellow and lecturer in Jazz History at the Royal Academy of Music.


Krin Gabbard taught comparative literature and cultural studies at Stony Brook University from 1981 until 2014. He is now an adjunct professor of jazz studies at Columbia University where he teaches courses such as “Jazz and American Culture.” He is also busy playing his trumpet in a swing band and writing a memoir about his parents. His books include Better Git It in Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus (2016), Hotter Than That: The Trumpet, Jazz, and American Culture (2008), Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture (2004), and Jammin’ at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema (1996). His two edited collections, Jazz Among the Discourses and Representing Jazz were published by Duke University Press in 1995. He is also editor-in-chief of Oxford University Press’s online bibliography of Cinema and Media Studies and a consultant on the J-Disc project, a new online jazz discography with exhaustive information about individual jazz recordings.


Fiona Talkington is a UK-based broadcaster, writer and speaker, best known to radio audiences as founding presenter of BBC Radio 3’s award winning “Late Junction”. Fiona has presented for the BBC since 1989 working across a wide range of programmes, from Breakfast, to live broadcasts from the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, and London’s premier chamber music venues Wigmore Hall and LSO St Luke’s. She has broadcast from Womad, Music around Europe days for the EBU, from the Royal Opera House, the Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican and many of the UK’s leading venues.

Fiona works extensively as a curator in the UK and Norway: at Kings Place curating Scene Norway, Scene Norway 2 and Eesti Fest, and has curated Voices Across the World at the Royal Opera House. She devised and curated the hugely successful conexions series for for Nasjonal Jazzscene in Oslo, celebrating and creating musical partnerships between the UK and Norway. In 2014 she worked with St George’s Bristol on Norwegian programming including curating a Norwegian day of music and literature, and is currently involved with a Norwegian project in Oxford.

In 2004 she was presented with the coveted Molde Rose award at the Molde Jazz Festival , and in 2009 she was awarded the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit for her services to Norwegian arts.

Recent projects include Editor of the English version of Luca Vitali’s “The Sound of the North – a history of Norwegian jazz”, and Edition Records has recently released her compilation of Nordic jazz “Northern Edition”.

Fiona’s Masters degree in English Literature and the Visual Arts specialised in the writings of Sir Kenneth Clark. She has taught for Reading University and for the Open University.

She is a Vice-President of the Grieg Society of Great Britain, chair of the trustees of the Whitley Arts Festival and a member of the advisory board for Britten Sinfonia.

Rhythm Changes: Jazz Utopia Conference Supper

We are pleased to announce that the Jazz Utopia conference supper will be hosted by Bar Utopia (where else?) on Church Street, Birmingham city centre on Saturday the 16th of April. Buses will take delegates from outside BCU’s city centre campus to the restaurant at 17.15. At 19.15 we will head across to the nearby Birmingham Conservatoire for Mike Fletcher’s Jazz Orchestra performance (tickets included in conference delegate pack). Dietary requirements have already been considered, with vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options and all dishes clearly labelled for allergies. Drinks can be bought at the bar and are not included in the Eventbrite price.


Please register your interest by emailing jazzutopia@bcu.ac.uk

Payments (for food only) should be made before the event, via the Eventbrite link here.

Keynote Speakers

Rhythm Changes, Jazz Utopia is pleased to announce our Keynote Speakers, to be hosted at Birmingham City University for the fourth Rhythm Changes conference:

Ingrid Monson – Jazz Utopias Then and Now

Friday 15th April


Ingrid Monson is Quincy Jones Professor of African American music at Harvard University. She is the author of Freedom Sounds: Civil Rights Call Out to Jazz and Africa (Oxford University Press, 2007), winner of the Woody Guthrie Award of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music; Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996) winner of the Irving Lowens Book Award of the Society for American Music; and an edited a volume entitled the African Diaspora: A Musical Perspective (Garland/Routledge 2000). She has been a Guggenheim Fellow, served as chair of the Department of Music, and Interim Dean of the Arts and Humanities at Harvard. She served as an expert witness for the Marvin Gaye family in the Blurred Lines copyright infringement case in 2015. She is completing a new book called Kenedougou Visions, about Malian balafonist Neba Solo and is planning another book on copyright and African American music.


Raymond MacDonald – Utopia, Nirvana or Valhalla: Improvisation and all that jazz

Saturday 16th April




Raymond MacDonald is Professor of Music Psychology and Improvisation and Head of The Reid school of Music at Edinburgh University. After completing his PhD in Psychology at the University of Glasgow, investigating therapeutic applications of music, he worked as Artistic Director for a music company, Sounds of Progress, specializing in working with people who have special needs. He has published over 70 papers, was editor of the Journal Psychology of Music between 2006-2012 and has coedited five texts: Musical Identities (2002), Musical Communication (2005), Music Health and Wellbeing (2012), Musical Imaginations (2012) and the Handbook of Music Identities (in press). As a saxophonist and composer his work is informed by a view of improvisation as a social, collaborative and uniquely creative process that provides opportunities to develop new ways of working musically. Collaborating with musicians such as Evan Parker, David Byrne, Jim O’Rourke and Marilyn Crispell, he has released over 50 CDs and toured and broadcast worldwide. He has produced music for film, television, theatre and art installations and is a founder member of Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra. He has a particular interest in cross-disciplinary collaboration and has extensive experience of working with artists and filmmakers.

The One LP Project: Rhythm Changes Jazz Utopia Conference 2016

The One LP Project: Rhythm Changes Jazz Utopia Conference 2016

Parkside Building, Birmingham City University

14th-17th April 2016



One LP is a unique and critically acclaimed portraiture photography project that explores the inspirational qualities of jazz recordings and the impact that they have on people’s lives. Each artist portrait features the subject holding a recording that is of fundamental importance to them. The photograph is accompanied by a short interview that explores the meaning and significance of the selected album.


Concept and development

One LP is a project that commenced in 2010 as a response to conversations with musicians about their relationship with the music of other artists heard via recordings – and in particular the albums that had profoundly moved them. As a conversation is of course transient – committed only to memory – I sought a format to document my interactions with artists. The One LP series is the result – something that reveals the matrix of jazz. Perhaps more mellifluously, a journey into another’s soul: the album that each person selects is a part of them: their past, present and future.

William Ellis – February 2016


“British photographer William Ellis is perhaps best known for his impeccable photos of jazz musicians. Truly cool interactive exhibits like this that combine multiple art forms don’t come around often.” Time Out New York

The premiere One LP exhibition was held in New York at the ARChive of Contemporary Music in 2014 and subsequently shown in Los Angeles during the Britweek arts program. The project – conceived in the jazz world has been extended and now includes around 200 people in manifold occupations in the creative milieu – artists, academics, musicians, broadcasters, writers and photographers.

The exhibition at Birmingham City University is the most comprehensive to date and reflects the position of jazz as the most diverse of musical genres. The artists featured in the exhibition range from innovators whose provenance reaches back to the genre’s birth through to leading and emergent contemporary artists. This pantheon includes figures such as Al Jarreau, Annie Ross, Sheila Jordan, Jon Hendricks, Gregory Porter, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Joe Lovano, Kenny Burrell, Mike Stern, Ron Carter, Marcus Miller, Lonnie Liston Smith, Robert Glasper, Michael League, Soweto Kinch, Tomasz Stanko and Christian Scott. Whilst One LP is a mature and rapidly-growing project, William is constantly seeking opportunities for collaboration to further develop the series, and welcomes proposals and dialogue re: subjects and directions.



William Ellis was born in Liverpool in 1957, developing his distinctive style encompassing portrait, performance and still life images of musical instrument via study and appreciation of the work of a wide range of artists and fellow photographers. His breakthrough into jazz came with the opportunity to photograph Miles Davis in 1989. William has since worked with many of the world’s leading musicians. William’s work is exhibited extensively at international level: it is held in private collections worldwide and those of major institutions including the National Portrait Gallery London, the ARChive of Contemporary Music in New York and the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City MO.

William’s photographs have been used in the JAM (Jazz Appreciation Month) Outreach program in the United States initiated by the Smithsonian Institution. They also appear regularly in print/online publications, and are used by record companies in artist promotion. William has a regular column on One LP in Allaboutjazz.com

“Beautiful images.” – Herman Leonard






This photo is Copyright William Ellis. All rights reserved.
This photo is Copyright William Ellis. All rights reserved.