Dr. Adiel Portugali (Tel Aviv University) – China’s Marginal Sounds: The Case of Kunming Jazz
My paper will explore the interface between jazz, place and identity in China, by examining the small-scale and relatively unknown jazz scene in Kunming – the capital city of Yunnan province. Through empirical findings and comparative studies, I will analyse expressions of locality and regional ethnicity within Kunming jazz, and identify its affiliation with different music scenes and musicians in and outside China. While Kunming jazz has been typified by imported musical forms and aesthetics, it has not as yet integrated in it its own local regional and ethnic elements. However, Kunming jazz actually does reflect contemporary local sounds and feel, by means of representing the urban growth of kunming, the social mobility of its residents and their desire to catch up with global trends of modernity.
Dr. Nic Pillai (BCU) – Duke Ellington in Coventry: discovering television and jazz in the cathedral archive
In February 1966, as part of the British leg of their European tour, Duke Ellington and his orchestra travelled to the Midlands city of Coventry to perform their first Concert of Sacred Music at the new cathedral. This remarkable event was televised on the Midlands ABC channel and, in this paper, I consider the concert as both a live experience and recorded artefact. Indeed, I contend that the Coventry performance is significant in the way that it occupies different, seemingly contradictory, spaces: both local and national, secular and divine. It also proposes a startling environment for jazz music; the severe, modernist cathedral designed by Basil Spence as part of a larger spatial re-conception of Coventry occurring over the 1950s and 1960s. I conclude this paper by reflecting upon the survival and afterlife of archive television, demonstrating ways in which my forthcoming AHRC project will bring value to jazz researchers.
Pedro Cravinho (BCU) ‘High Priest of Modern Jazz’: Thelonious Monk Britain’s Second City tours revisited
Over a half-century has passed since the African American pianist-composer Thelonious Monk made his first British tour. In May 1961, Monk performed in Britain’s second city for the first time and would return a few years later. In this seminar, I propose to revisit the discourses that surrounded and mediated Thelonious Monk presence in Birmingham. The analysis will draw on information collected in Birmingham Central Library, British Library, and National Jazz Archive aiming to contribute to a better understanding of the presence of American jazz in Britain’s second city during the 1960s.
About the Speakers
Dr. Adiel Portugali is a researcher and lecturer at the department of East-Asian Studies in Tel Aviv University. His research focuses on historical, cultural and geographical aspects of popular music and contemporary jazz in China. In 2006-2010 he lived and worked in China as a percussion player and teacher at Pearl Percussion Centre and as a cultural attaché at the embassy of Israel in Beijing (2008-2009). Adiel is also a percussionist and the former drummer of the punk band Ziknei Tzfat.
Dr Nicolas Pillai is a Research Fellow at Birmingham City University. He is the author of Jazz as Visual Language: Film, Television and the Dissonant Image (2017, I. B. Tauris) and co-editor of New Jazz Conceptions: History, Theory, Practice (2017, Routledge). He was recently awarded a prestigious AHRC Research Leadership Fellowship to conduct a two-year project entitled ‘Jazz on BBC-TV 1960-1969’.
Pedro Cravinho is a researcher in Jazz Studies at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research at Birmingham City University. Cravinho is also a Trustee for the National Jazz Archive.