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2021 IASJ Jazz Research Conference, 11 and 12 November
Session 1, 11 November, 3 pm

Research in Jazz: Positions, Theories, Methods

Applied jazz research, artistic jazz research, practice-based research, research-in-the-arts, research-through-the-arts. There is no shortage in names, methods and approached in jazz research nor in visions on how theoretical or practical jazz research should be.
This panel gave a helicopter-view on the landscape of jazz research and insights in how the various approaches can reinforce each another.

Wouter Turkenburg and Wojtek Justyna open the conference. They welcome the over 30 online participants.

Wojtek Justyna introduces himself. Graduated as jazz guitarist from the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, The Netherlands, performing artist now and also teaching courses in music management. He is co-producing this conference.

Why this conference?
Wouter Turkenburg explains that the IASJ has mainly been an organization for jazz performance and jazz education. Jazz research is relatively new to the IASJ. In their study programs of the IASJ member schools there is a wide variety of types of jazz research.
What is missing is an overview of how jazz research is done at academies, conservatories and universities. The goal of this conference is to obtain such an overview. This overview will not be obtained right away but the IASJ hopes to become a magnet, a platform for the various types of jazz research.

The jazz research activities in the IASJ

  • IASJ Jazz Research Conferences in 2003 and 2010
  • Ongoing Dialogues during every annual IASJ Jazz Meetings;
  • IASJ research website as an extension of the Ongoing Dialogues;
  • Reports of the sessions of this 2021 IASJ Jazz Research Conference;
  • IASJ Jazz Research Journal, the publication, in collaboration with Grand Valley State University Libraries, Michigan, USA of a journal.

Overview of jazz research publications
IASJ: Ongoing Dialogues, website, journal;
International Society for Artistic Research in Jazz: publications, conferences, projects;
Jazz Educators Network: conference, publications;
Jazz Institute Graz: publications;
Jazz Institute Darmstadt and other jazz documentation centers: conferences, publications, databases;
Research Catalogue: growing number of jazz publications.

The Panel
The conference opens with a panel presentation which was proposed and initiated by Michael Kahr of the International Network for Artistic Research in Jazz (INARJ).

Kurt Ellenberger, is the first presenter. He explains that his involvement grew after visiting the Ongoing Dialogues at IASJ Jazz Meetings. In the Ongoing Dialogues important topics were discussed concerning the relations between jazz performance, education and research. Presenters were given all the time needed to unfold their ideas to participants that came from all over the world. The discussions after the presentations were of high level and helped the participants to re-evaluate and improve their daily work.
Founding a jazz research journal is the best way to preserve the content and the dynamics of the Ongoing Dialogues. The library at GVSU have funds and resources for an online jazz journal which they want to produce in collaboration with the IASJ.

Next Michael Kahr presents a number of slides in which ‘artistic research’ is explained. Artistic research can be seen as an umbrella for all kinds of arts-based research. The aims are to connect to other research communities and to exchange knowledge. ‘Artistic knowledge’ which is at the core of artistic research, asks for a certain methodology, as well as terminology, questioning and competence. Artistic research is often connected to other fields of research such as executed in musicology, sociology and philosophy. In recent years, artistic research has become institutionalized in academies and universities in Europe. It is now part of the study programs, discussed at conferences, and written about in publications. There are projects, a book and a website as well. Michael Kahr gives an overview of the many activities going on in artistic research in jazz worldwide.

Andrew Bain who studied drums both in the USA and in Europe, head of the jazz department at the Royal Conservatory of Birmingham, UK, speaks about his experiences with artistic research. At his school a lot of research in various forms is taking place. Andrew Bain tries to balance his own artistic research with his performance practice. For him the balance works very well. He mainly does artistic research by reflecting on performances.

Petter Frost Fadnes, saxophonist from Norway who studied in the UK, got interested in improvisational structures and improvisation architecture. After his PhD he moved back to Norway and became active in collectives such as the Kitchen Orchestra in Norway and the Alexander von Schlippenbach Orchestra in Austria. For him doing research was growing out of his own practice in a natural way. He thinks that the database called the Research Catalogue in which a growing number of finished research is posted, as well as work in progress, is a great tool.

Wouter Turkenburg noticed a myriad in the terminology when it comes to jazz research. Artistic jazz research, practice-based jazz research, research in the arts, research in the arts, biographical jazz research, music-theoretical jazz research, historical jazz research. In the IASJ the term used is ‘applied jazz research’, the jazz research that is linked with jazz performance and jazz education.

Another question that comes with the institutionalization of jazz performance, education and research is the link with the roots, the history of jazz: the African American culture. In the session at 5 pm of today Damani Philips discusses what has gotten lost in the transition from jazz being ‘from the street’ to jazz in the highest levels of academic institutions.

Discussion, remarks, additions
Petter Frost Fadnes
In artistic research there is no defined methodology. The balance between the written work and the performance varies from institute to institute. Sometimes there is a quite a lot of rigorous written reflection demanded, sometimes there is no written work at all. The absence of a defined methodology gives the students much flexibility which is a positive thing. There is not a fixed terminology as well and sometimes the word ‘research’ is not used at all.

Kurt Ellenberger
In the USA there are two degrees and two approaches. The degree PhD ends in research project. The degree DmA ends in an artistic project.

Ed Sarath
‘Applied jazz research’ is a good heading, a good title. He prefers ‘integrated jazz research’. There is a divide between research and education. In ethnomusicology and musicology, the connection with jazz education is often not present. Kurt Ellenberger stresses the importance of the document on education in the USA written by Ed Sarath.

Nick Smart
There is a growing of interest in jazz in all forms of research, not only in artistic research. Apparently, in other forms of research there is a curiosity, an interest in the kind of knowledge embedded in jazz performance. More connections to these other forms of research should be made. Many projects that jazz musicians undertake have research value but are not seen as such by them. A greater awareness is needed in order to improve both the artistic process and the research.

Wouter Turkenburg
After students obtain their master degree and have presented their research, they leave education to perform but they stop researching. A master’s degree should not be the end but a start of doing live-long research.

Gary Keller
Jazz performers are constantly researching. Researching and understanding the thought-process of the great masters is however understudied. Biographies, records and transcriptions do not really give insight in their thought-processes. The insight in their ways of thinking should not get lost.

Michael Kahr
Another problem is that institutions are required to present their results in statistics. In Austria artistic works are accepted to be research but they do not show up in these statistics. More collaboration between other societies and lobbying is needed in order to have artistic works to be fully accepted and to show up in the statistics. Fortunately, artistic research is accepted as being scientific research and does show up in the statistics.

Wouter Turkenburg thanks the participants for their input. It is clear that there is a great need for clearness in what is being researched in jazz, how jazz research is done and where and how the results are documented and made available. The IASJ Ongoing Dialogues at IASJ Jazz Meetings, the IASJ Conferences, the IASJ websites and the IASJ Research Journal are aimed at creating clearness, providing information and supporting collaborations. There is a clear need for more information, more exchange of research results and more collaboration. In the last session of this conference, it will be discussed how to fulfill these needs.

Andrew Bain, drums, head of studies at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, UK
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Kurt Ellenberger, piano, publicist, Grand Valley State University, Michigan; USA
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Petter Frost Fadnes, saxophone, University of Stavanger; Norway
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Wojtek Justina, jazz guitarist, IASJ Conference Producer; NL
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Michael Kahr, jazz pianist, jazz researcher; INARJ; Austria
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Gary Keller, saxophone, University of Miami; USA
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Ed Sarath, trumpet, University of Michigan; ISIM (International Society for Improvised Music); USA
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Nick Smart, trumpet, Royal Academy of Music; UK
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Wouter Turkenburg, guitarist, musicologist, IASJ Executive Director; NL
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