I will be a guest speaker at the Walters Cultural Arts Center Speaker Series in Hillsboro on Tuesday, June 18th at 7:00 PM.
My topic is “The Jazz Scene as an Ecology”. This is a culmination of a line of inquiry I embarked on in 2009 on music and sustainability.
Here’s a short teaser for those who might be interested. I’ll post the whole lecture here after I present it.
A little fable about Jazz and Academia
Think of Jazz as a wild plant, a native species that grew in America. Took root, found good soil. But its environment grew crowded w/competitors. It’s niche was overrun by rock & roll. As jazz matured and spread, it was less connected to its initial purpose, the nourishment of communities. It became famous, the property of everyone and no one. So it sought refuge in the academy
Introducing a new breed- The Jazz Educator
I’d say Dr. Billy Taylor was the proto-species of the Jazz educator. He was the first of the evolutionary line. He possessed the ideal combination of traits that enabled him to thrive in academia. A virtuoso with a Ph.D. degree, he was articulate and well-spoken. The “fruit” he produced-television shows, the non-profit Jazzmobile, paved the way for other musicians like Max Roach, Archie Shepp, Willie Ruff, and eventually, me.
There were others –John Mehegan, Jerry Coker, Gunther Schuller @ NEC, who were also pioneers, They created the first jazz curricula & schools: The Schillinger School, Berklee College of Music, North Texas State, These environments and infrastructure—big bands, textbooks, play-along records provided fertile soil for jazz to grow in academia.
Below are a couple great blog posts that get to this topic. Two are from Dr. Jeff Todd Titon, ethnomusicologist at Brown University. His writing has been groundbreaking in this area. He has also been an encouraging mentor to those of us interested in thinking freshly about the place of music in our culture. His blog “Sustainable Music” is a fantastic resource for provocative and inspiring new ways to think about what we do.
Titon blog on Sustainbility & Ecology
Theses on Sustainabilit- A Primer
There are also a number of earlier posts on this blog that explore this same topic.