GJFC 2017 Presenter Abstracts & Bios

What are the ways in which people and organizations learn, grow, and change through partnerships?

The Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium features panel discussions, performances, multi-media presentations, interviews, and workshops to foster a spirit of collaborative, boundary-defying inquiry and dialogue. This year, the Colloquium will explore partnerships as models for social mobilization, and is dedicated to musicians and improvisers who have engaged in community collaborations and social movements.

Updated Sept. 11, 2017

Adam Tinkle

Mixed-skill Ensemble as Social Practice: Jazz histories and contemporary contexts

This paper explores the themes of partnership and social engagement in music through the lens of improvising in situations of mixed-skill ensemble. Mixed-skill ensemble, which I define as intentional cultivation of musical collaboration between more and less skilled or trained participants, has a rich but seriously understudiepanid history in both post-Cage and jazz-rooted improvised experimelntal music worlds. As a musician and teaching artist active in community-based collaboration, I devise and utilize tactics of mixed-skill ensemble  in order to accomplish a range of aesthetic and social goals.

Here, I frame the aims and practice of my own use of mixed-skill ensemble in light of one of its major sources of historical inspiration, in the oeuvre of two legends of free jazz who each made recordings on which their young sons appear as percussionists. In the late 1960s and early 70s, Oliver Lake recorded with his 6-year old son Gene, and Ornette Coleman, with his 10-year old son Denardo. I explore the modalities of collaborative ensemble under which the Lakes and the Colemans worked on these recordings, seeking to explore the aesthetic and philosophical dimensions of the inclusion of children in such professional contexts. Bringing to light various aspects of historical context (the loft jazz scene, collectives with pedagogical and outreach efforts, and other music from the same period that also incorporates young and other-than-professionally-trained musicians), I ask: how does the inclusion of non-traditionally skilled or credentialled players within improvisational performances alter our sense of the possible social impacts and communitarian force that experimental improvisation might be able to conjure? Suggesting that such historical legacies of mixed-skill ensemble can cast new light on larger questions in social practice, I apply lessons from Lake and Coleman to pursue a novel interpretation of the Grant Kester-Claire Bishop debate.

Adam Tinkle is a multidisciplinary artist and scholar interested in immersion, transformation and the audio-visionary. Trained in music, he works in sound, intermedia, performance, and participatory/collaborative modalities. His practice is grounded in reverence for the moment, whether he is improvising on the saxophone, constructing unstable electronic systems, DJing live on the radio, or composing in vernacular song-form traditions. His recent collaborations include “whaleworks” (a fully staged chamber work with sounds and stories from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography), “Music for Mineral Springs (a tasting-concert with Chris Kallmyer/Machine Project), “3015” (a sound installation produced with performance art icon Marina Abramovic), “The Hard Problem” (a podcast/radio play with science fiction novelist Kim Stanley Robinson), and “They Shoot Lasers, Don’t They?: Electronic Music Theatre with Instruments of Interferometry,” (workshopped at Stanford’s CCRMA and NYU’s Waverly Project with inventor Joe Mariglio). As a curator, he has produced “backcountry sound pilgrimages,” exhibitions devoted to the influence of Sun Ra on contemporary art, and concerts in trains and aquaria. He has studied with Alvin Lucier, Anthony Braxton, Pauline Oliveros, Anthony Davis, and Charles Curtis, and holds a PhD from UC San Diego. He co-founded Risky Forager Records, has been published in Leonardo Music Journal and Organised Sound, and teaches at Skidmore College, where he is associate director of the John B. Moore Documentary Studies Program (MDOCS) and a guiding faculty of the annual MDOCS Storytellers’ Institute since its inception in 2015.

Aldon Lynn Nielsen

“The Inside Songs of Amiri Baraka II: ‘Oh . . . If Only'”

This presentation is the next installment of a lengthy examination of Amiri Baraka’s works realized with jazz musicians. A previous paper analyzed Baraka’s early work with the New York Art Quartet. In this segment, the subject will be works Baraka created with the Billy Harper Sextet: “Africa Revisited,” “Knowledge of Self” and “Oh . . . If Only.” The encompassing title of this project references the contributions Baraka made to William Parker’s “Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield,” and looks at the ways Baraka’s lyric histories of “the music” work inside and sometimes counter to the parallel histories being played by the musicians. In this outing, Baraka, clearly being overdubbed, literalizes the trope by singing snatches of song while the Sextet are themselves alluding to earlier works. (“Africa Revisited” revises one of Coltrane’s best known compositions.) . Harper was taking seriously what had been suggested by earlier personnel listings on some of the albums that had included Baraka’s poetry. In his own notes on the album, Harper spells this out explicitly. His “New Listening Concept” hopes for an audience that will listen:

with ears wide open . . . to both the speaker and the horns at the same time – as if they are intertwined in a “modern contrapuntal” statement (that some may equate with the counterpoint used in older Dixieland styles). But in this “new concept,” we do not shy away from having you use your listening prowess and skillful efforts to hear the voice solo, as you hear the horn solo – hear the horn solo as you hear the voice solo, or separate each horn solo, and listen again to the voice solo.

This may take some doing . . .

Aldon Lynn Nielsen, who has presented at the Guelph Colloquium in the past, is the Kelly Professor of American Literature at the Pennsylvania State University. His monographs include Integral Music, Black Chant, C.L.R. James: A Critical Introduction, Writing between the Lines and Reading Race. His new book of poetry, Tray, is forthcoming from Make Now Press. Previous poetry volumes include Heat Strings, Evacuation Routes, Stepping Razor, VEXT, Mixage, Mantic Semantic and A Brand New Beggar.He is the editor of the award-winning posthumos volume by Lorenzo Thomas, Don’t Deny My Name: Words, Music, and the Black Intellectual Tradition.

Bryn Scott-Grimes

Improvisation in Ritual and Music

by Ron Grimes and Bryn Scott-Grimes

We will show and discuss the short film“The Day the Clock Stopped,” a 10-minute weaving of Bryn’s improvised harmonica solo and Ron’s videography of Oslo’s “9/11.” The film tells the story of 77 people, mostly members of the Workers Youth League, murdered by a right-wing extremist. The film, driven by Bryn’s music, focuses on Oslo’s use of improvised rituals and reclaimed spaces in the aftermath of the murders.

Bryn Scott-Grimes is a professional musician, songwriter, and arts entrepreneur in Toronto. After graduating with honours in 2012 from York University’s music program, he founded the Bryn Scott-Grimes Harmonica School, which teaches people from all walks of life to play the world’s most popular instrument. In 2016, Bryn was the lead music educator in the documentary, Me & My Harmonica, which tells the compelling story of Sid, a man who uses the harmonica to bring harmony, happiness, and peace to the world. Bryn has released 4 solo albums, including his latest, Room on Ossington; he wrote, produced, and played all of the instruments in the album. His harmonica also accompanies singer-songwriter Anna Gutmanis, and he is half of Taylor & Bryn, the award-winning duo (www.taylorandbryn.com) with its high-energy infusions of improvisation, melody, wit, soaring harmonies, sophisticated guitar solos, and beat-boxing harmonica. Currently, Bryn is writing a musical and manages Silverthorn Studios (www.silverthornstudios.ca), a professional recording studio and Airbnb in Toronto’s Stockyards district.

Cathy Paton

Transforming an Improvisational Theatre Community Through Their Own Artistic Practice

As an artist, an academic, and a community practitioner, my artistic praxis involves bringing improvisation into the context of relating to others. Through a process of engaging in exercises that make our usual patterns of being with others, less known to us, we make it available to us for reflection, investigation, and learning.  An exploration of an ongoing partnership between my work and the work of a diverse, artistic community – Bad Dog Theatre Company, this paper provides insight into how particular engagement with improvisational theatre can address and create new in the context of power imbalances and discrimination.

Bad Dog Theatre is an Improv Theatre Company in Toronto.  This company has a large focus on inclusivity and diversity; traditionally, North American improvisational theatre has been very exclusive – dominated by cis, straight, able-bodied, white, males. In addition to their social-justice informed teacher training program, Bad Dog created and hosts an annual, international symposium with the goals of identifying barriers to access and to making improvisational theatres, teaching programs and communities, more representative of the cities that house them.

As they continue to work in inclusive ways, Bad Dog has commissioned me to engage their community, addressing power in their classrooms and the in their company, specifically in the areas of gender, mental health, disability, and race.

This paper presents an overview of a partnership between a diverse and reflective, artistic community and an academic, artist-researcher and facilitator.  The paper explores the practice of engaging in the art of improvisation to draw forward conversations about power and to make visible exclusive patterns of relating.

Cathy Paton is in the final stages of writing her PhD dissertation in Social Work at McMaster University . Through engaging with the art of improvisation, Cathy’s work investigates our processes of relating. Drawing from her training in improvisational comedy, modern dance, and physical theatre, Cathy’s practice involves a real-time and physical orientation that elicits continuous interdependence.Her research and practice call for exploration and active reflection on the ways in which less-scripted and routine ways of being with others, can provide transformative alternatives to community practices, research and education.  Cathy’s research and practice continue to take place locally and internationally,  both within and outside of academia – with students, artistic communities, academics,community groups, and businesses.

Dawn Matheson

Stories of Impact: Katy

Dawn Matheson is an interdisciplinary artist and writer. She works in video, radio, art installation, community collaboration, performance, and print. She is the commissioned lead artist at the Art Gallery of Guelph on a two-year project collaborating with Deaf children and children with hearing loss called Sense of Wonder. This is the second video Dawn has made about Katy. Dawn’s first video about Katy, “Katy’s Song,” was released as part of a DVD accompaniment to “Things you hope a human being will be,” a short book profiling musician Jane Bunnett’s stint in Guelph as the 2011 Improviser-in-Residence.

Dhiren Panikker

Sound(ing) Community: Toward a Decolonial Ethics of Intercultural Praxis

In this paper, I explore the politics and ethics of intercultural collaboration through a reflexive narrative of my experience as a participant at the recent ImprovisAsians! 2017 Festival. Hosted by Asian ImprovARts, a pan-Asian collective celebrating thirty years of musical activism in the Bay Area, this week-long festival brought together artists from a variety of musical-cultural backgrounds in an exploration of the connection between performing arts and community building. This event was my entry point into what Asian Improv artists Francis Wong and Hafez Modirzadeh describe as the “sound community,” an ethical collective built and sustained through sound. Working outwards from my position as an Indian American artist-scholar, I explore the musical intimacies, listening strategies, and political implications of this particular sound community within the context of institutional discourses on diversity and inclusion. Through my experience as a participant/observer in several of Modirzadeh’s courses on improvisation and “world” music, I explore technologically-mediated listening techniques as a basis for new intercultural partnerships. In addition, I contextualize my experience throughout the collaborative process in an effort to highlight the role that “interagency” (Barad 2008) plays in real-time music making. While recognizing the failures that arise from intercultural exchange, I argue that the classroom, rehearsal and performing space operate as critical sites of aesthetic sociality with the potential to decolonize institutional knowledge. Utilizing auto-ethnographic methodologies (Reed-Danahay 1997) and “intervocal” (Feld 2012) storytelling techniques, I aim to decenter ethnographic authority and bridge the divides between theory and praxis. Ultimately, I hope to highlight the importance of improvisational partnerships as models for social change in an era of heightened racial, political, and institutional division.

Dhiren Panikker is a Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of California, Riverside. His dissertation research examines brownness and the politics of interculturalism in contemporary jazz and creative music. Dhiren holds an MFA (2010) in Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology (ICIT) from the University of California, Irvine, and a B.M. in Jazz Studies (2008) from California State University, Fullerton. Dhiren is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships including the Gluck Fellowship (2015, 2016), Dean’s Distinguished Fellowship (2014), Medici Foundation Scholarship (2009), and Stephen Allen Memorial Scholarship (2007). He has presented his research at numerous national and international conferences including the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI), the InternationalAssociation for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM), and the Society for Ethnomusicology, Southern California and Hawaii Chapter (SEMSCHC). An active pianist and composer, Dhiren has performed at prominent venues throughout Los Angeles including the Blue Whale, the Jazz Bakery, Catalina Jazz Club, and Vitello’s Jazz and Supper Club. He currently performs and tours regularly with his own group, Trio Sangha. Outside of performance, Dhiren maintains a full studio of jazz piano students and conducts master classes and workshops throughout Southern California.

Ellen Ringler

The Medium is the Method: Improvised Rhythm to Encourage Confidence and Increase Visibility Among Marginalized Youth

As a researcher in partnership with ICASP and KidsAbility’s Improvised Music workshops, ‘Rainbow Day Camp’ for youth experiencing developmental difference, conducting interviews was very much a part of the methodology for gaining insight into how the young improvisers thought and felt about their practice. However, in order to attempt to truly understand the social implications of improvised music as a way to encourage social mobility which includes building confidence and increasing visibility among these youths, emphasis must be placed on the immediacy of the practice of improvising itself. In other words, in order to reflect on the implications of the practice as a researcher, one must immerse themselves in the process of creation and learn alongside the participants.

Methodologies regarding working with youth who experience developmental difference must enable these youths to feel safe enough so they can express themselves in order to take up as much or as little sonic space as they choose. This rhythmic expression signifies the self and the individuals place within community. The methodologies practiced in order to cultivate a sense of trust among musicians, artists, academics and the community must come from the practice and process of in this case, creating improvised rhythm. The music in creation is communication and it is productivewhen all players contribute through a process that feels natural to themselves. If researchers, leading musicians, and community participants show themselves sonically an equilibrium of sound can be cultivated, in which there are givers and receivers within and beyond the process and performance of improvised rhythm. Academics, artists, and community members then have given themselves to the sounds and to one another, learning and creating alongside each other in the moment of liveness which deconstructs the hierarchies that may be present and allows for true commitment to the process of their creation.  I would like to discuss how these methodologies influence the research and reflection of these practices and their impact on the participants themselves including the sense of community that is present through the process of collaboration.

Elizabeth Jackson

Elizabeth Jackson is Associate Director of the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute at the University of Guelph. Formerly the Community Engagement Officer for IICSI, she worked to develop and sustain partnered creative research projects (including the Play Who You Are project) with a broad range of people and groups. Her work in non-profit, activist, and academic contexts has addressed a range of inter-connected themes—including environmental justice, human rights, the politics and implications of artistic representation, the ways we think about time, and the relationships between formal education and broader social realities—all of which inform her commitment to ethical and sustained engagement with communities. Elizabeth holds a PhD (English & Cultural Studies) from McMaster University, and completed her BA and MA at the University of Guelph.

Erin MacIndoe Sproule

Stories of Impact: Talia

Erin MacIndoe Sproule is a documentary filmmaker based in Guelph, Ontario. She is the Creative Director of Anthroscope Media, an independent documentary production company that explores the human experience through film. Stories of Impact: Talia is the second project Erin has worked on with Talia Baskin Kesselman, having created a short documentary in 2016 that profiled J.O.E. Coffee at the Guelph Public Library, where Talia works. Erin would like to thank Talia, her parents Amy and Jack and The Ok Choralers for their participation in this project. She would also like to thank the Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation for directing resources towards telling these kinds of stories and allowing for space to listen to voices that may not always be heard. Erin has a Bachelor of Arts in Radio and Television Arts from Ryerson University and a Masters in Fine Art Photography from the Instituto Europeo di Design in Madrid, Spain.

Francesco Paradiso

The sound of ethics. Alterity, sound andimprovisation meet on a Monday morning at Silence in Guelph

This study is the result of the author’s participation in one of the Morning Music sessions held at Silence in Guelph. It scrutinises the link between alterity, sound and improvisation. It draws on the analysis of ethics developed by three philosophers (Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas and David Wills), and the research into improvisation conducted at the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation and at Silence in Guelph.The author argues that a form of ethics based on aurality rather than visuality manifests improvisatory elements that foster a form of unconditional receptivity to alterity.The analysis supports the view that ethics is a form of hospitality that relies on a constant play of conditions and the unconditional. Unlike visuality, aurality promotes an approach to ethics that reduces significantly the distance between the Self and the Other and encourages community development. In this regard, the case of the Morning Music sessions at Silence provides an exemplary setting to conduct research into alterity, sound and improvisation. First, it involves a community whose members often do not know each other or have never met before; second,it supports and promotes co-musicking, co-creation and a performative approach to sound; third, itengages with free improvisation. The author addresses his experience of conditions and the unconditional during the session, and reports on the discussion with the other participants afterwards.

Dr Francesco Paradiso is Research Fellow at the University of Wolverhampton, UK. He holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of New South Wales, Australia. Besides conducting his own research, Dr Paradiso engages also in research development across the four schools of the Faculty of Arts at Wolverhampton, supporting fellow academics in research proposal development and bid writing. His research interests focus on deconstruction and the arts, especially music. This study is part of his research project “Hospitable offbeats: jazz improvisation and the unconditional welcome”, funded through the Early Researcher Award Scheme (ERAS) of the University of Wolverhampton.

Georgia Simms

“Revealing the mysteries of creating movement”

Perhaps you have imagined collaborating with dancers, but you aren’t quite sure what they are up to; or maybe you have considered movement as an intriguing possibility for your own creative expression, but you are stumped by the mystery of how to begin. In this participatory workshop, we will explore clear and accessible approaches to generating movement using frameworks that cross disciplinary boundaries. Examples of visual art and photography created in partnership with movers will be displayed.  Inspired by conversations between Jeannette Hicks and Georgia Simms, and supported by the generous educational offerings of Peggy Baker, we will investigate how movement just might be the partner you are looking for…

Facilitated by: Georgia Simms (IMAGEO artworks, Guelph)
With IMAGEO students: Simon Tse & Wendy Martin
Visual Art created by: Inga Gircyte and Arshia Salesi (OCAD, Toronto)
Photography by: Ellen Snowball (OCAD, Toronto)

Georgia Simms is a dancer and practitioner of movement-based education. She combines traditional modern dance technique with critical experimentation in improvisation, partnering with musicians and visual artists. Having completed her MA in Geography, and more recently an innovative project with the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute, Georgia continues to explore creative process and arts practice within the context of interdisciplinary challenges.

Gregory Pierrot

Free jazz as diasporic practice: Baraka, Fanon and Free Jazz/Black Power.

In the introduction to their 1971 treatise Free Jazz Black Power, French jazz critics Philippe Carles and Jean-Louis Comolli directly addressed their debt to Amiri Baraka’s theories on black music in America, but also point to what they see as the limit of Baraka’s thinking, his stopping short of recognizing “the contradiction between white and black values” as but “one of the moments in the main contradiction… between capitalism and its prey.” The authors expressed a view of the music and of Baraka’s writings deeply influenced by a long history of French criticism of black American music, of course, but also of readings of American race matters, as well as a more immediate political context involving France’s 20th century colonial wars, and the way they impacted French thinking on race and international socialism. Frantz Fanon features as a sort of specter in this dual relation, as a black critic crucial to Black Power thought in the US, an anticolonial activist, but also a French West Indian music aficionado. Scattered in Fanon’s writings are clues and hints of how he might have listened to free jazz. This paper will add this important angle to the conversation between Baraka and Carles and Comolli, and consider how free jazz might have featured in décalage as a point of conversation in Franco-American diasporic conversations.

Gregory Pierrot is on the faculty of the University of Connecticut at Stamford. His books include AnHistorical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti by Marcus Rainsford. Ed., with Paul Youngquist, An Anthology of Haitian Revolutionary Fictions, and the English translation of Free Jazz/BlackPower, by Philippe Carles and Jean-Louis Comolli. Work in progress includes The Black Avenger in Atlantic Culture

Hannah Burgé Luviano

Shaken and Stirred: Koerner Hall’s New Canadian Global Music Orchestra

The Royal Conservatory of Music webline reads: “What is Canadian music in 2017? How will we define it? Who are the musicians who will create and perform it? Where else but in Canada today, at this moment, can artists from different traditions come together to create a new body of work or, even, a new tradition?” In December 2016, the New Canadian Global Music Orchestra (NCGMO) was created to mark Canada 150, and to represent diversity in community. Twelve musicians from around the globe that currently live in Canada have been in residency at Koerner Hall preparing for a debut concert, summer tour, and an album of new music. The musicians hail from: Brazil, Canada (Métis), Pakistan, Greece, China, Tibet, Burkina Faso, Cuba, Peru, México, Iran, and Ukraine. Each professional musician comes with specific knowledge and expertise of their heritage traditions and with a body of musical work formed while living in Canada and abroad. Altogether, the instrumentation encompasses musical traditions that are tenuously linked, at best. This new musical community is built on trust, exploration, and improvisation. Their mandate is to reflect the sound and look of Canada today – essentially they must show how music enables them to play a common language. Language is a first barrier; the musicians must find a way to communicate with one another in English and French, when all do not speak and understand one another with fluency. Moreover, they must improvise the musical communication needed to build a foundation for sharing their music knowledge. This paper examines both the physical realities of creating a new music from distinct musical traditions, while it addresses how the musicians use improvisation and identity to build a new musical path forward. Find out how twelve global musicians “play Canada.”

Hannah Burgé Luviano received her M.F.A. in ethnomusicology from York University. She is currently an instructor at Centennial College. Her research focuses on vocal jazz music, and extends to themes of improvisation, community outreach, gender, and identity studies. Her 2015 debut album, Green River Sessions is available on iTunes worldwide, and has received airplay on over 300 radio stations. Hannah is in production of her sophomore album, with a release date slated for early 2018.

James Aldridge

Tristano’s Reichian Theory of Improvisation: Jazz of the Unconscious Mind

Controversial pianist and pedagogue Leonard Joseph (Lennie) Tristano (1919 – 1978) stands out as one of jazz’s most polarizing figures. His color-blind artistic ideology, Eurological improvisatory approach (Lewis 1996), and repeated condemnations of established African American artists problematizes jazz’s Afrocentric narrative while undermining his own canonic relevance. Time and again he challenged the idiomatic importance of figures like Coleman, Davis, Rollins, and Coltrane, unconvinced of their musics’ value and skeptical of their abilities to engage in “honest” music making (Gitler 1964). These (often racially insensitive) criticisms were informed, I argue, by unorthodox interpretive criteria largely overlooked by Tristano scholars to date. Here I assert that Tristano’s critical toolkit was comprised of analytical devices inspired by Neo-Freudian psychoanalytic theories of neurotic human selfhood. I also propose that his improvisational philosophy was informed by populist interpretations of Freudian psychoanalytic concepts; and his students’ by the works of lesser-known Neo-Freudian bio-psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich (1897 – 1957). In order to do so, I identify public statements (Tristano 1945 and 1947), published writings (Chamberlain 2004; Hamilton and Konitz 2007; Ind 2008), interview responses (Davis 1996), and criticisms by and from members of the Tristano School (Coss 1962; Gitler 1964) that indicate a collective familiarity with Freudian psychoanalytic theory, an interest in its musico-improvisational implications, and evidence of active attempts to incorporate it into their own improvisational approaches. Similarly, I draw parallels between the audiatory aspects of Tristano’s pedagogy (Jago 2011, 2013, 2015) and Reichian theories of psychosomatic suppression and armoring (Reich 1933, 1942). My aim here is to contextualize Tristano’s iconoclastic statements by demonstrating how frequently they coincide with psychoanalytically inspired philosophies of improvisation.

James Aldridge is a first-year PhD candidate in Historical Musicology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. His work explores the ontological implications of improvisational musics, the role of quotation in defining jazz sub-genre, and the significance of medical rhetoric in processes of musical analysis.

Jean-Philippe Marcoux

“The Polytextuality of Jazz Poetry: Vernacular Innovations in Literary Enactments” 

This proposed paper will analyze a sample of jazz poems by 1960s Umbra and Black Arts poets in terms of their polytextuality, which derives from the concentricity of the music as primary text. The ritual of jazz improvisational performativity becomes a metaphor for the black archives, kept alive through reiterative performances of cultural memory. Each invoked “text” –itself a poetic improvisation –then becomes an interlinked naturalization of a new black discourse that employs the oppressor’s cultural history against Blacks. At the same time, each text defines the terms of an antiphonal poetic language that responds to the demands both placed on black art, and then collapsed in the music’s intervocality, or, more precisely, in the sonic ritual’s ability to conjure up different improvisational voices within intravernacular conversations.

Polytextuality in 1960s jazz poems by Amiri Baraka, Calvin Hernton, AskiaTouré, and Sonia Sanchez layers various texts in order to destabilize Eurocentric cultural hegemonies. Such layering complexifies the function of the intertexts these jazz poets deploy in their poems mainly through a re-invocation and subsequent subversion of Eurocentric discursive dominance. In couching the primary text in vernacular culture, these jazz poets, I will argue, refuse the inimical discourse of white socio-cultural and historical superiority and disinvest its effects on black identity. The collapsibility of Eurocentric discursive authority on race and ethnicity is only possible through the poets’ development of a writing politics that collectivistically reconstructs black voices. To do so, black poetic language must embody and embed black consciousness. The cultural, historical, and literary intertexts that generate the polytextuality of the poem reveal jazz poetry’s reconditeness and complexity of allusion, thereby defeating black cultural and political strictures. In fact, the poems’ interwoven negotiations of dialectical histories of experiential citizenship lead the chosen poets to appropriate the authority of his oppressors’ discourse on race and to redress its fallacy. Essentially then, Baraka, Hernton, Touré, and Sanchez posit a black politics of rhetorical retribution at the same time as they lay the groundwork for the formulation of a black aesthetic.

Jean-Philippe Marcoux is the author of Jazz Griots: Music as History in the 1960s African American Poem. He is on the faculty of the Université Laval. His research focuses on the cross-fertilizations between Black music, literature, especially poetry, and social movements. His research is also concerned with the literary foundations and forefathers of these movements, which has led to articles on Langton Hughes. He is deeply invested in studies on the “New” Black Poetry of the 1960s. He has produced book chapters (to be published) on Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka. He is currently working on a literary history of the Umbra poets. His other research interests include the literary counterculture in the U.S. (1945-1970), and experimental poetry. 

Jesse Stewart

“Music Matters” – panel presentation

Jesse Stewart (Music program, Carleton University)
Angela Paric (Health Sciences, Carleton University)
Nancy & Felix Baele (participants in the “Music Matters” project)

“Music Matters” was an innovative partnership betweenthe Alzheimer’s Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County,Artswell (a non-profit organization dedicated to using the arts to improve the quality of life and well-being of individuals living with the effects of age, illness or injury), the National Arts Centre, and two Carleton University researchers: percussionist Jesse Stewart and Health Sciences researcher Renate Ysseldyk. Twice a week for 8 weeks, Jesse Stewart improvised with a group of eight seniors living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, as well as their caregivers who, in most cases, were their spouses or their adult children. Part of the intention was to provide an opportunity for the participants to have a shared experience that would hopefully form the basis of a new, shared memory.Together, we co-created an original piece that combined music, poetry, and dance, performing the results of our collaboration at the National Arts Centre on 1 May 2016. Through a series of surveys, interviews, and observations, Angela Paric studied the health impacts of the project, finding that the Music Matters program had a positive impact on participants’ emotional well-being, memory, and cognitive capacity.

Jesse Stewart is a composer, percussionist, visual artist, researcher, and educator. His music has been documented on over twenty recordings including Stretch Orchestra’s self-titled debut album, which was honoured with the 2012 “Instrumental Album of the Year” Juno award. He has performed and/or recorded with musical luminaries including Pauline Oliveros, Hamid Drake, William Parker, Joe Mcphee, David Mott, Dong-Won Kim, and many others. His music has been performed at festivals throughout Canada, in Europe and in the United States and he has been widely commissioned as a composer and artist. His writings on music and art have appeared in such journals as American Music, Black Music Research Journal, Contemporary Music Review, Intermedialities, and in numerous edited anthologies.

He is a professor of music in Carleton University’s School for Studies in Art and Culture and an adjunct professor in the Visual Arts program at the University of Ottawa. In 2013, he received Carleton University’s Marston LaFrance Research Fellowship. He has also received numerous teaching awards including a Carleton University Teaching Achievement Award, the university’s highest honour in recognition of teaching excellence. In 2014, he was named to the Order of Ottawa.

Keith Loach

Improvisation In Neurorhythmics

Neurorhythmics is an area of study focused on the effect of sound, music and movement on the brain. Improvisation will be examined from a practical, philosophical, and neurological perspective. We will look at brain waves, brain layout, the scanning equipment used to monitor brain activity, and the practical and philosophical aspects of improvisation in today’s society. We will then examine two recent studies that involve monitoring live musical improvisation using brain scanning technology. Research using EEG and fMRI scanning equipment during the act of musical improvisation has revealed increased brain activity in the creative (self-expressive) areas of the brain and decreased brain activity in the evaluative (self-monitoring) areas of the brain. This has implications for using improvisation for not only the development of creativity, but also for addressing the self-consciousness pervasive in our Eurocentric presentational-versus-participatory society. Neurorhythmics has far-reaching potential for improving the health and wellbeing of individuals. From research in Gamma brain waves and dopamine pathways to studies in bouncing balls and iPod programs, participation in musical activity has been shown to produce positive results with not only gait, speech and memory issues, but also with more serious medical ailments such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and fibromyalgia syndrome. The relationship between auditory neurons and motor neurons in the brain makes the use of rhythm an important tool in the science of neuroplasticity. Worthy of mention is Swiss healthcare policy support for medical and curative eurhythmics. Switzerland recognizes the power of rhythmicity as a practical component of a complete healthcare system. Improvisation in Neurorhythmics is part of a dissertation work-in-progress currently in the form of an academic review of recent research exploring musicking and its relationship with science and health.

Keith Loach holds a Bachelor of Music (Faculty of Music, University of Toronto) and a Master of Business Administration (Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto). He is currently enrolled in the doctoral program at York University for a PhD Music. His area of study is how music can be used to improve our quality of life, specifically in the area of neurorhythmics and the profoundly positive effect of movement, rhythmicity and improvisation on the brain.

Kimber Sider

Stories of Impact: Play Who You Are

Kimber Sider is a PhD candidate in Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. Sider’s doctoral research focuses on equine/human inter-species performance, and how symbiotic inter-species improv engages alternative modes of communication (such as physical resonance and body language), and how further understanding these manners of communication may inform notions of performance-based exchange. Sider completed her MA in Theatre Studies also at the University of Guelph in 2012. Sider’s MA thesis titled, “The Ride: Equine Influence and Inter-species Performance” delved into questions of human/equine exchange and communication through the lens of performance based methodologies in order to explore the inter-species collaboration of The Ride, the performance of Sider’s 2008 horseback ride across Canada. Sider is also a story-practitioner in both theatre and film; most notable is her 2010 feature documentary Chasing Canada. She has worked with the Play Who You Are project for a number of years, and has produced several short films documenting the workshops.

Marcel Swiboda

Improvisation and Transduction: Collective Individuation in an Age of Automation

In a 2007 paper entitled ‘Improvising Tomorrow’s Bodies: The Politics of Transduction’, the musician and theorist George E. Lewis uses the term ‘transduction’ to analyse the improvisational interactions between human bodies and synthetic machines, in terms of their affective affordances. For Lewis, the improvisational interactionsin question include but are not limited to musical encounters, in that ‘improvisation is fundamental to the existence and survival of every human formation, from the individual to the community, through the postnational body to the species itself’ (George E. Lewis, ‘Improvising Tomorrow’s Bodies: The Politics of Transduction’, emisferica 4: 2 [2007] (online) <http://hemisphericinstitute.org/journal/4.2/eng/en42_pf_lewis.html>[30/04/17]).

While not an explicit reference point in Lewis’s text, it is interesting to consider that this term was similarly used by the late philosopher of technology Gilbert Simondon to furnish a method of analysis for examining how beings of diverse kinds collectively individuate themselves. According to Simondon scholar David Scott, ‘[t]raversing physics, biology, the psychic, and the social, [Simondon’s concept of] transduction describes an operation by which an activity of […] being is born from the propagation of pre-individual reality’ (David Scott, Gilbert Simondon’s Psychic and Collective Individuation [Edinburgh University Press, 2014], p. 6.). Simondon hereby resists theorising the activity of being as an undertaking of pre-formed individuals, in favour of a concept of individuation, by means of which individuals are formed in the process ofactivatinga collectively shared pre-individual fund of affective potential.

This paper proposes to analyse the resonances between Lewis’s and Simondon’s respective mobilisations of tranduction, in order to consider how improvisational encounters involving humans and machines illustrate processes of collective individuation. The aim will be to discern genuinely ethical and participatory instances of human-machine interaction by means of improvisation, in order to critique the instrumentalisations of human-machine relations currently being perpetuated by proponents of Silicon Valley technoculture.

Marcel Swiboda’s current research mobilises the conjuncture of improvisation, philosophy and technics as a vehicle for critiquing the instrumentalisations of contemporary technological and political culture. He is co-editor (with Nicholas Chare) of a special themed issue of the journal Liminalities (online), entitled ‘Unforeseen Encounters: Improvisation and Theory’ (forthcoming, 2017).

Mark Lomanno

“Wail: Precarious Breath and Voicing Black Masculinity”

Invoking the work of Fred Moten, Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., and Nathaniel Mackey, this presentation explores the renewed relevance of “the moan” as it relates to embodiment, agency, and black subjectivity. Highlighting resonances between the bebop era and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, I show how African American, male jazz musicians perform viable subjectivities in their instrumental performances through excesses of (physiological) voice. By reinserting/reasserting agency into black bodies that are undercut, rendered mute, and choked off, these vocalizing subjects push back against acts of physical and ontological violence perpetuated by what Fanon calls “the epidermal racial schema.” As Moten’s work shows, “the moan” is a discursive strategy enacted first by African slaves for whom forced relocation ruptured communal linguistic bonds and senses of self but also inspired new registers of sound to better voice–and subvert–their violent realities. Pianist Earl “Bud” Powell, whose mastery of bebop music was simultaneously celebrated and pathologized, was known to moan in a similar fashion during performances, in particular after being subjected to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). This presentation suggests that jazz musicians are continuing to use manipulations of physiological voice in critical and incisive ways, resisting a new moment of voiceless precarity for the African American community signaled by the deaths of Eric Garner and others: musicians such as Ambrose Akinmusire (When the Heart Emerges Glistening, 2011), Robert Glasper (ArtScience, 2016), and Terence Blanchard (Breathless, 2015) are continuing African American jazz’s tradition of “radical pneumaticism” for redressing these acts and articulating a “new world.”

Dr. Mark Lomanno, a visiting assistant professor of music at Northeastern University, specializes in jazz studies, ethnomusicology, and music of the Afro-Atlantic world. His research focuses on how marginalized peoples utilize improvisation to create opportunities for self-advocacy, critical action, and social change. His current projects include ethnographic, archival, and performance work in the Canary Islands and a monograph on intercultural improvisation and interdisciplinary pedagogy. Selected publications include: articles in the journals Jazz Perspectives and Ethnomusicology Review; and forthcoming chapters in the volumes Sound Changes: Improvisation, Social Practice, and Cultural Difference (Duke University Press); Sound, Sensation, Performance: Reconfiguring the Boundaries of Ethnographic Experience; and the Routledge Companion to Jazz Studies. He currently serves as Co-Chair of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Improvisation Section and is co-editing a special issue of the journal Critical Studies in Improvisation on improvisation, interdisciplinarity, and the liberal arts.

In addition to his trio project, Mark’s career as a jazz pianist includes the recordings with Le Monde Caché (a San Antonio-based jazz group that plays Brazilian, Afro-Latin and Jewish diasporic repertoire) and Celebrate Brooklyn II, a collaborative release with Canarian saxophonist Kike Perdomo. He has been active in the New York City jazz scene for the last dozen years as a musician, club manager, writer, and educator. Mark brings all this work together in his blog, “The Rhythm of Study” (rhythmofstudy.com), an open-access site that focuses on collaborative and interdisciplinary discussions of jazz and improvised music in the arts, academia, and activism.

Marshall Trammell and Kade Twist – Heritage Hall Research Group

Music Research Strategies (MRS) is the critical inquiry and social engagement arts platform of percussionist and researcher Marshall R. Trammell. MRS was built to launch investigations bridging the chasm between Creative Music and needs-based, social change and solidarity economics organizations. Inspired by the improvisatory nature of the Underground Railroad, analysis of radical organizing practices, and responding to today’s political landscape, MRS deploys a Tools and Resources for Assessing Social Impact (TRASI), a logic model and evaluative measurements, and survey and analytical tools from the Foundation Center, DataCenter, and an array of sources in the development of festival incubation and philanthropic vehicle serving the Guelph Black Historical Society (GBHS) at Heritage Hall, located at 83 Essex Street Guelph, ON N1H 3K9.

Heritage all Research Group (HHRG) is “call-to-action” in the form of an international body of committed Black, Creative Musicians, multi-ethnic allies, and stakeholders gathered in an independent, impact-based intervention, survey, and evaluation as a “jumping-off” point to engender conversation, action, fundraising, and capacity-building support for GBHS. One of the aims of the framework and assessment guidelines are to establish a flexible but standardized approach to data collection, which will enable the development of crucial benchmarks for clear evaluation towards the establishment of sustainable fundraising and capacity-building mechanism like a international cultural arts festival and related projects.


Marshall R. Trammell is the chief investigator and founder of Music Research Strategies, a critical inquiry and social engagement arts platform. Since 2012 he has been the percussionist with touring and recording electro-acoustic duo Black Spirituals. (Sige Records). His essay “On Music Research Strategies” in Nate Wooley’s Sound American recounts his “Re-Imagining UGRR Quilt Codes” workshop and his workshop on the “Visual Culture of the UGRR QuiltCodes & Harm Free Zone Community Accountability” was delivered at Heritage Hall duringthe launch of “People of Goodwill” run by Postcommodity in 2014. He is an experienced“information activist” with DataCenter, community organizer, . Currently, he curates “Drummer’s Secret Handshake,” “Decolonizing the Imagination,” and “Indexical Moment/um: Simultaneous Multi-Dimensionality” during his residency at Prelinger Library in San Francisco.

Mr. Trammell is an experience Improviser amassing an array collaborators fromPostcommodity, Pauline Oliveros, Saul Williams, Dylan Carlson, John Tchicai, HafezModirzadeh, Dohee Lee, John Jang, Francis Wong, Tatsuya Nakatani, Genny Lim, India Cooke, Roscoe Mitchell, Laura Ortman, Joe McPhee, Chris Cogburn, SharmiBasu, Suzanne Thorpe and more. His current work “Black Fighting Formations Archive” builds off of incarcerated former BPP/BLA member Russell “Maroon” Shoatz’ analysis Black political organizations,W.E.B. DuBois’ analysis of the UGRR as a ​solidarity economy, and his solo percussion practice in the form of a conduction method based on the UGRR quilt block codes.

Kade L. Twist is an interdisciplinary artist working with video, sound, interactive media, text and installation environments. Twist’s work combines re-imagined tribal stories with geopolitical narratives to examine the unresolved tensions between market-driven systems, consumerism and American Indian cultural self-determination. Mr. Twist is one of the co-founders of Postcommodity, an interdisciplinary artist collective. With his individual work and the collective Postcommodity, Twist has exhibited work nationally and internationally including the: Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, AZ; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, CA; Chelsea Art Museum, New York, NY; National Museum of the American Indian, Gustav Heye Center, Smithsonian Institution, New York, NY; Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe, NM; Nuit Blanche, Toronto; Contour: 5th Biennial of the Moving Image, Mechelen, BE; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Museum; Site Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM; Adelaide International; National Museum of of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo; and the 18th Beinnale of Sydney. Postcommodity have been the recipients of grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Harpo Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, Art Matters, Creative Capital and the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. In addition to his art practice, Twist is also a public affairs consultant specializing in American Indian health care, technology and community development with clients that include the Ford Foundation, Benton Foundation, Center for Community Change, National Congress of American Indians, Native American Public Telecommunications, Institute of American Indian Arts, American Dental Association and numerous American Indian Nations. Twist received his MFA in Intermedia from the Herberger Institute School of Art at Arizona State University. He is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Ron Grimes

Improvisation in Ritual and Music

by Ron Grimes and Bryn Scott-Grimes

We will show and discuss the short film“The Day the Clock Stopped,” a 10-minute weaving of Bryn’s improvised harmonica solo and Ron’s videography of Oslo’s “9/11.” The film tells the story of 77 people, mostly members of the Workers Youth League, murdered by a right-wing extremist. The film, driven by Bryn’s music, focuses on Oslo’s use of improvised rituals and reclaimed spaces in the aftermath of the murders.

Ron Grimes is co-editor of the Oxford Ritual Studies Series, Director of Ritual Studies International, and the author of several books on ritual, most recently The Craft of Ritual Studies. He has been a consultant on ritual and performance for the Sundance Institute Playwright’s Lab, the Cranbrook Institute of Science, and the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. Ron directed “Ritual Creativity, Improvisation, and the Arts,” an audio-visual research project (https://vimeo.com/album/1524902) and has been a consultant or advisor on several documentary film series. Recently, Grimes has held the following positions: Marcel SwibodaChair of Ritual Studies at Radboud University, Nijmegen; Visiting Professor of Religious Studies at Charles University, Prague; Senior Researcher and Senior Lecturer at Yale University.

Tom Zlabinger

Jazzadelica: Psychedelic Sounds as Embraced by Major Jazz Musicians

Probably the world’s best-known psychedelically-oriented jazz recording, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew (1970), earned Davis his first gold record and thus was his best-selling album at the time. As opposed to the acoustic sounds Davis was known for, Bitches Brew included many of the sonic hallmarks associated with psychedelic rock of the late 1960s, like distorted guitar, electric piano, organ, electronic effects, and electric bass. But Davis was neither the only nor the first major jazz musician to explore the sonic elements of late-1960s psychedelic rock. Several other jazz musicians decided to incorporate such sounds, explore the ideals of the counterculture, and even use some repertoire by famous psychedelic rock musicians.

Unfortunately, many of these psychedelic musical choices have been rolled into a much larger category in jazz known as either jazz rock or fusion. The specific incorporation of psychedelic sounds in jazz warrants a proper investigation. Though very few (if any) of the mentioned musicians would consider their musical output as psychedelic jazz or jazzadelica, many listeners would categorize it as such within the greater sonic context of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The proposed presentation examines the initial wave (1966-1975) of psychedelically-oriented recordings by jazz musicians like George Benson, Gary Burton, Donald Byrd, Don Cherry, Alice Coltrane, Larry Coryell, Miles Davis and alumni of his bands (including Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, John McLaughlin, Tony Williams, and Joe Zawinul), Eddie Harris, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Charles Lloyd, Les McCann, Tony Scott, Sun Ra, and GáborSzabó. But as opposed to looking at a series of musicians, this investigation will engage with a series of psychedelic sounds created by some of the latest technology at the time. In relation to the theme of this year’s conference, I aim to focus my presentation on the ways these jazz musicians borrowed sounds from psychedelic rock to collaborate sonically and technologically with younger rock musicians across and beyond the traditional boundaries of jazz at the time.

Dr. Tom Zlabinger is an Assistant Professor of Music at York College in New York, where he directs the York College Big Band and the York College Summer Jazz Program. Dr. Zlabinger holds a B.A. in music from Grinnell College and an M.A. in jazz performance from Queens College. He completed his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at the CUNY Graduate Center and his dissertation was entitled FREE FROM JAZZ: The Jazz and Improvised Music Scene in Vienna after Ossiach (1971-2011). Dr. Zlabinger has primarily written about music and the depiction of musicians in and around various media franchises, such as The Big Lebowki, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, The Simpsons, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Star Wars. Recently, he has also written about the process of decolonization in jazz and The Who’s performance at The Concert for New York City, in honor of the heroes and victims of 9/11. Additional scholarly interests include the pedagogy of improvisation and the music industry.