Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Examining Jazz and Community

Tonight, in my city—Ottawa—a local group of improvisers are getting together to play something called 'Whose Solo Is It Anyway.' Chances are, the music they make will sound different than if a group of musicians in your community did the same thing.

Jazz may be global, but it's incredibly local, too.

From it's beginnings—in the New Orleans brothel district known as Storyville—jazz has reflected the streets on which it is made. As a living art form, it is channeled not just from the musicians who make, but from their communication with their audience, and their interplay with other artists (including poets, painters, dancers, and writers) in their community. The music speaks of the levels of joy and hardship the artists feel, and it is flavoured by the other types of music that the players listen to.

Diane Martin
On October 20, as part of the Festival de Jazz de Quebec, I'll be moderating a panel discussion onthe topic of Jazz & Community. Joining me will be the distinguished British jazz journalist Alyn Shipton, my Ottawa colleague Peter Hum (popular author of JazzBlog), Radio-Canada broadcaster and blogger Stanley Péan, and  Le Soleil arts columnist Nicolas Houle. Keeping us all in line, and helping to translate our bilingual discussion will be Radio-Canada host Diane Martin.

Alyn is planning to discuss the importance of Afro-Caribbean music in Britain, and the way it has influenced the contemporary jazz scene there. Peter will talk about the influential community that is the sphere of post-secondary jazz education. For my part, I'll be touching on such critical improvising cauldrons as the Black Artists Group of St. Louis, Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Amsterdam, and in New York City, the Loft  and Downtown music scenes. I'm counting on our Quebec colleagues to shine a critical light on the evolution of their province's jazz scene—from the Little Burgundy of Steep Wade and Oscar Peterson to the contemporary scene that thrives around players like Normand Guilbeault, Marianne Trudel, Jean Derome, and so many others.

Here's the program if you'd like to know more. As you'll see, we are honoured to be part of such a rich roster of performing artists. Please check it out if you're in the Quebec City area.

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