Welcome Harald Kisiedu to IICSI

Improv Notes is pleased to welcome Harald Kisiedu as an IICSI postdoctoral fellow for the academic year 2015-2016. Harald received his PhD in Historical Musicology from Columbia University in 2014 after successfully defending his dissertation European Echoes: Jazz Experimentalism in Germany, 1950-1975. He is a historical musicologist who specializes in 20th-century music, especially jazz as a global phenomenon, Afro-diasporic music, transnationalism, black experimentalism, the European avant-garde, and the intersection between music and politics. In addition to his PhD, he holds graduate degrees in political science and German studies from the University of Hamburg, and is a tenor saxophonist who has performed with Champion Jack Dupree, Hannibal Lokumbe, Branford Marsalis, Henry Grimes, and George E. Lewis. He has also recorded with the musical collective Burnt Sugar.

What began your interest in jazz music and jazz experimentalism?
My interest in this music was prompted by my guitar instructor Jürgen Frenz at a very young age. He opened up an entirely new world for me by introducing me to the music of Charlie Parker, Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Don Cherry, and Albert Ayler. I was really fortunate to grow up in Hamburg, Germany at a time where I was able to attend performances by many of the foremost improvisers and black experimentalists.

How did you begin working in critical improvisation studies?
I would like to credit George E. Lewis, whom I met eleven years ago at the Black Atlantic Conference in Berlin, as being instrumental for my involvement with critical improvisation studies. He introduced me to the field and to many of its key scholars, and I began to immerse myself in it immediately after I started the Ph.D program in Historical Musicology at Columbia University.

What sort of work do you hope to be doing during your time in Guelph?
I will engage in researching the jazz experimentalism movement in West and East Germany and its larger socio-political ramifications. More specifically, I will revise and expand my dissertation for book publication. I am currently working on an article on Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and the rise of the East German jazz experimentalism movement to be published in a forthcoming special issue of Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études Critiques on Improvisation.

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