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2021 IASJ Jazz Research Conference, 11 and 12 November
Session 3, 11 November, 7 pm

Jazz research in the IASJ: What has been researched, what is researched now, what should be researched next.

‘Jazz Changes’ is the name of the journal published in the 1990’s by the IASJ. Editor Graham Collier of the Royal Academy of Music in London, UK, collected articles and conducted interviews on a wide range of topics which were as 'hot' than as they are today. These topics were and still are discussed at the 'Ongoing Dialogues', the discussion groups formed during IASJ Jazz Meetings. These discussions can be seen as the first steps in jazz research in higher professional jazz education. Ever since, a large number of IASJ member schools have developed jazz research programs, continuing the start of jazz research in the Ongoing Dialogues and in ‘Jazz Changes’ three decades ago.

Wouter Turkenburg and Wojtek Justyna welcome the over 20 participants from all over the world. They are amazed about the wide range of backgrounds of the participants joining this Zoom session.
Gary Keller talks about how jazz education started in the USA in the 1960’s. Learning jazz at that time was learning anything that you did not learn in classical music. No degrees were given at first. Books and methods were still in their infancy. ‘The street’ was still ‘the street’ and there it was where you really learned. Later on, things got more formalized and ‘the school’ became ‘the street’. Indeed, in transition it was forgotten where jazz music came from.
Ed Sarath was very much involved in writing for ‘Jazz Changes’ the IASJ journal that Graham Collier edited in the 1990’s. Indeed, the articles in this journal where very critical and even edgy at times. He confirms that they can be seen as the early steps in jazz research. The question about what constitutes jazz research comes down to the question what is jazz. Answering that big question is an ongoing process. As well as trying to answer the question what is improvisation which is done in the organization called ISIM which he is leading. Both are part of the question of what is music. In trying to establish a synergy between jazz performance, education and research, an element of activism should be there. As can be seen in the works of Charles Mingus and the AACM. In research not only the question of ‘what’ should be asked but also ‘why’ and ‘how’.
Ricardo Pinheiro talks jazz his experiences with performance-based music education. In his views, there is a big ‘disarticulation’ between the realms of performance and musicology, especially when it comes down to jazz. In trying to bridge the gap between performance and theoretical reflection, new ways of approaching and presenting research on musical performance are developed. The current project at the ESML is called ‘Performance and Context’. It is based on making videos of performances and accompanying them with texts and articles that reflect on the context of and the processes involved in the performances of all styles and genres. Some of the articles are more music-theoretical others more philosophical but the all take the performance as point of departure.
Arnon Palty states that a part of the answer of the question ‘what is jazz, can be found in the answer to the question ‘how are we hearing jazz’, which leads to the question what is ear training’. Ear training is normally divided in several subjects such as solfeggio, rhythmical training, melodic dictee, transcriptions. Ear training should however be creative and not automatic. It should be understood that everybody hears differently. In every theory class the ears of every student work in a specific way. Individual lessons in ear training would work best but are not economical viable and are time consuming. Jazz ear training is essentially different from classical music ear training. Jazz ear training should follow the history of jazz.
Toni Bechtold informs that at the Swiss archives of jazz festivals two perspectives in jazz research are developed. The first perspective is on the performances, the reflection on the performances and the relations between the musicians and their audiences. The second perspective is on ‘groove’. Groove is defined as ‘the pleasure and urge to move along to music’. Recordings were very precisely analyzed by computers. As a result, difference in the executed rhythms could be compared in milliseconds. The effects of the various grooves on the listener were researched as well. As it turned out, experienced listeners were more sensitive to the discrepancies in the grooves than non-experienced listeners. Another study was made in researching the listening to drum patterns that were varying from simple to complex. Experienced listeners and professional musicians heard more ‘groove’ in the complex patterns than non-experienced listeners. Also, more ‘groove’ was experienced while listening to familiar music. People who are not familiar to certain jazz styles do not hear and appreciated the ‘groove’ of that music. The outcome of this technical and scientifical research is used in workshops. As a result, performers gain insights in rhythmical subtilities and discrepancies that they were not were aware of before. Through this research performers are able to improve their timing and improve their listening skills.
Emiliano Sampaio just finished four years of doctoral studies in artistic aesearch at the KUG, Austria. He focused on working with mixed ensembles consisting of both jazz and classical musicians. The research culminated in both a huge dissertation and a concert with a large mixed ensemble.
From his experiences in writing, arranging and conducting big bands he obtained a number of insights. One was: the larger the ensemble, the more limiting the freedom, interaction and spontaneity. This was even worse working with classical musicians. The research question was how to develop corporation and interaction in a large ensemble consisting of both jazz and classical music. By researching the archives of existing mixed larger ensembles such as the Dutch Metropole Orchestra insight was gained how composers dealt with the hierarchy, working procedures and organization in those ensembles. Interviewing many jazz and classical musicians gave insight after analyzing the interviews of how musicians were thinking and feeling. Also, it gave insight in how to space and conduct the larger mixed ensemble. With the conductor in the middle of the ensemble and if possible, with the audience around the ensemble. The research and the concert also show new and innovative ways of working with mixed large ensembles and have opened doors for better and more involved and creative interactions between musicians.
Questions, Answers, Remarks
In response to the presentation of Emiliano Sampaio, Dimos Dimitriadis points out to the discrepancy between the ‘optical world’ of classical music and the ‘acoustical world’ of jazz. This discrepancy is in his view due to the difference in musical training especially in rhythm.
Ed Sarath thinks that the lack of interaction is indeed the biggest problem in larger ensembles. Emiliano Sampaio states that besides other spacing of the ensemble and the conductor, working with lead sheets instead of written out parts, also for the classical musicians, improved the interaction. Making all these changes working with a larger, mixed ensemble became similar as if working in a small ensemble, as in a jazz quartet. As a result, the musicians felt more responsible for their part in the musical process. The standard divide between composer and performer was left behind. All musicians literally became co-composers by sharing the composition-rights.
Gary Keller, familiar with working classical orchestras, remarks that for classical musician the ‘groove’ is always an issue as well as not being used to work with a click-tracks. Also, classical musicians seem to come from a different ‘emotional’ world. Emiliano responds that there is now a younger generation of classical musicians that are used to pop and jazz grooves.
Kurt Ellenberger remarks that a lot of researchers see their work as something that has to go in a storage platform such as archives and catalogues. What ‘applied jazz research’ should do is finding a way to make their work operational for the performance practice.
Wojtek Justyna and Wouter Turkenburg thank the presenters, contributors and those who asked questions and reacted.
Looking back on the developments made in the IASJ over the year it is amazing to see how much has changed and grown out of the first careful steps in jazz research. Big steps are made but the question now is how to move on. In the last session of this conference hopefully answers are found.

Who is who

Kurt Ellenberger, piano, publicist, Grand Valley State University, Michigan; USA
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Toni Bechtold, saxophone, researcher at HSLU, Lucerne; Switzerland
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  • Music Performance Research:

  • Perception of Groove:

Wojtek Justina, jazz guitarist, IASJ Conference Producer; NL
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Gary Keller, saxophone, University of Miami; USA
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Ricardo Pinheiro, guitar, ESML, Lisbon; Portugal
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  • Performance and Context:

Arnon Palty, various instruments, theory subjects; Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; Israel

  • Theory book, info:
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Ed Sarath, trumpet, University of Michigan; ISIM (International Society for Improvised Music); USA
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Emiliano Sampaio, guitar, trombone, composer, conductor; Austria; Brazil

  • Video of the concert:

  • Link to the dissertation:
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Wouter Turkenburg, guitarist, musicologist, IASJ Executive Director; NL
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