Guelph Jazz Fest 2019 promo image Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium 2019

Improvising Instruments

September 11-14, 2019
Guelph, Ontario, Canada

What role do uncommon or invented instruments play in music making and performance? Within the context of jazz and creative improvised music, there is a long and illustrious history of artists (Cecil Taylor, Fred Frith, Gerry Hemingway, Pauline Oliveros, Evan Parker, Meredith Monk, and many others) who play their instruments in unusual ways, using “extended techniques” to expand the range and scope of their sonic expression. Such an approach to musical improvisation allows musicians to expand on (or to unsettle) conventional roles associated with particular instruments, and to reject received norms governing performance practices with respect to pitch, timbre, harmony, rhythm, and technique. There is, in addition, a history of artists who’ve sought to integrate instruments and traditions from around the world into their practice. And improvising artists also notably make use of invented, or what curator Dieter Roelstraete calls, “purpose-built” instruments: When film composer Mark Korven felt that existing instruments weren’t able to produce the sounds of horror that he needed for his movies, he teamed up with guitar-maker Tony Duggan-Smith to make an original instrument, The Apprehension Engine. Artists such as the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Douglas R. Ewart, and the Creative Construction Company have breathed new life into everyday found objects by turning them into compelling sound sources. Others, including some artists who’ve been spotlighted over the years at the Guelph Jazz Festival, might be said to play uncommon instruments: instruments, that is, that are not typically associated with jazz. Still others (for example George Lewis, Matana Roberts, and Rob Mazurek) use technology itself as a core part of their creative practice. This year’s edition of the Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium asks, What is generated from these new and alternative instruments, materials, methods, and practices? For the artists, for the audience? For the instruments themselves? What are the broader social implications of this form of experimentation? To what extent and in what ways do the tools with which we improvise provide new opportunities for revamping stereotypical approaches to sounding and to generating genuinely new toneworlds?

Improvising Instruments, the 2019 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium will feature a keynote by David Rothenberg and a selection of curated workshops, performances, concerts,  a book launch, and talk back sessions by guest and Guelph Jazz Festival artists including, but not limited to: Lee Blalok, Jesse Stewart, Chris Tonelli, Douglas R. Ewart, Ben Grossman, Susan Alcorn, and Chick White.

Stay tuned! The schedule will be announced soon!