Jazz festivals as assemblages for selecting, displaying and moving jazz in the present and towards the future

A position statement by Helene Brembeck and Niklas Sörum presented to the CHIME project team meeting, Amsterdam Conservatory, February 4 2016

In WP 2 we want to question the idea that cultural heritage is about the past, and preservation. Instead we see cultural heritage as a practice, which is not simply about the past, but also about the future: it is about valuing the past and about preserving for the future and for future generations. Jazz today can thus be regarded as residing in a past-present relation: it is about selecting what is considered worth saving and of finding new modern and attractive techniques of communicating for the present and of assembling for the future. This view of cultural heritage is in line with the “New heritage paradigm” (Holtorf and Fairclogh 2013) that acknowledges that heritage is neither ‘fixed’ nor ‘ inherent’ but emerges in dialogue among individuals, communities, practices, places and things.

logo400_framed_2016_engHeritage, or ‘heritages’, are always also plural, which means that different, sometimes conflicting futures can be assembled. This becomes obvious in the ‘competition’ between our two studied festivals in Gothenburg – Gamlestaden Jazz and Classic Jazz – of which ‘jazz past’ is to be saved and enacted in the present and assembled for the future. We follow Rodney Harrison (2013, 2015) stating that ‘heritage involves working with the tangible and intangible traces of the past to both materially and discursively remake both ourselves and the world in the present, in anticipation of an outcome that will help constitute a specific (social, economic, or ecological) resource in and for the future (Harrison 2015:35).

gmlstn-jazz-2014Harrison is inspired by neo-materialist thinkers, such as Deleuze and Latour and their aim to bridge divides between nature and culture, humans and non-humans, which means breaking the divide between tangible and intangible heritage: obviously jazz as intangible heritage is also very tangible, embodied and object-based.

Harrison bases his theses on what he names “connectivity ontologies” meaning ‘modalities of becoming in which life and place combine to bind time and living beings into generations of continuities that work collaboratively to keep past alive in the present and for the future’ (2015:27). This means that heritage can be seen as collaborative, dialogical and interactive, a material-discursive process in which past and future arise out of dialogue and encounter between multiple embodied subjects in (and with) the past (ibid.). Referring to Latour (2004), in this process, or what is described as a nature-culture assemblage, not only humans but also objects (music instruments, our comment) and practices (playing, dancing, our comment) have ‘rights’, which we may have obligations to attempt to uphold.

Harrison uses the term ‘domain’ to draw attention to the tendency for different fields of heritage practice to operate relatively autonomously, with each of these domains specifying particular objects of conservation and accompanying methods of management. Different heritage ontologies have different future-making capacities. Jazz can thus be considered as one such domain where a multiplicity of forms of existence are enacted in concrete practices, and ‘where politics becomes the elicitation of this manifold of potential for how things could be.’ (2015:34). This means that heritages can be defined as ‘a series of diplomatic properties that emerges in dialogue of heterogeneous human and non-human actors who are engaged in keeping pasts alive in the present and, which function towards assembling futures.’ (2015:28)

What about the jazz festival? Following Harrison the jazz festival can be regarded as an assemblage, a set of practices, or even ‘machine’ for ‘enacting new realities through contingent processes of assembling and reassembling bodies, technologies, materials, values, temporalities and meanings’ (2015:28). Practices specifically dealing with heritage-making across diverse contexts can be characterized as:

  • Categorizing (identifying, documenting, nominating, listing, recovering, enumerating)
  • Curating (collecting, selecting, attributing value)
  • Conserving (caring, preserving, storing, archiving, managing)
  • Communicating (using, interpreting, exhibiting)

All of which can be witnessed in the practices of assembling the jazz festivals, and most obviously, practices of communicating.

From these starting points the following research questions can be posed:

  • Where and how are pasts given presence at the two jazz festivals?
  • Which (jazz) pasts are envisioned?
  • Whose cultural heritage in terms of gender, generation, social class and ethnicity?
  • What are the networks that facilitate these processes?
  • What temporalities are produced by the two festivals and what are the implications of the different modes of engagement with the past, present and future that are generated at the two festivals?

More specifically in relation to marketisation:

  • How are aspects of cultural heritage explicitly or implicitly used in marketing, organization and enactment of the festivals?
  • How does cultural heritage become important in constructing a market for the festivals in relation to for example profit, pricing, sponsors, competition, use of social media and communicating with visitors?

References
Harrison, Rodney. 2015. Beyond “Natural and “Cultural” Heritage: Toward an Ontological Politics of Heritage in the Age of the Anthropocene. Heritage & Society, Vol. 8 No 1, May, 24-42.

Harrison, Rodney. 2013. Heritage: Critical Approaches. Routledge: Abingdon and N.Y.

Holtorf, Cornelius and Graham Fairclough. 2013. The New Heritage and the re-shapings of the past. In Reclaiming Archaeology: Beyond the Tropes of Modernity, edited by Alfredo González-Ruibal, pp. 197-2010. Routledge: Abingdon and New York.

Latour, Bruno. 2004. Politics of Nature. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

 

The (Re-)Use of Cultural Heritage Sites: the Concept of Memory in Visitors’ Experiences

​A position paper (no. 3) presented to the CHIME project team meeting, Amsterdam Conservatory, February 4 2016

Elsewhere, in a research project with the title ​From Working Space to Theatre Space: ​the user perspective​, I am working on the question ‘​How adaptive re-use of heritage sites can re-signifie the various values and meanings connected to these sites and the cultural events that take place there.’ ​With the help of audience research I aim at gaining insight in the relationship between the perception of (in this particular case industrial) architectural theatre spaces and the perception of theatrical events hosted there.​ It becomes clear that an important aspect in visitors’ experiences when it comes to cultural heritage sites, is cultural memory. My results from focus groups illustrate that memory can be present at different levels and take up different roles in audience experiences. The responses of audience members in the above mentioned audience research indicate that memory can become part of the experience for example by:  ​​

  • Having direct memories of the place​;
  • Knowing the place as (an important) part of history; ​
  • Being reminded of similar situations​;
  • The place symbolizing an era​;
  • The place activating related memories;​
  • The place activating the imagination;    ​
  • The place provoking curiosity​.

 

It seems that the relationship visitors have to the place or location is an important factor in determining the role that cultural memory can or will play, and this also goes for the attitude audiences have towards the art form concerned. So, when studying the intertwining relationship between jazz festivals and heritage locations, it becomes important to gain insight in questions like: ​​

  • Are audiences familiar with the place and its history?​
  • How familiar are audiences with the historical narratives attached to jazz?​
  • What values do audiences attach to the location/landscape and to jazz music?

 

It is doubtful that a lot of festival organizations will have any data available concerning these questions, since even more plain audience statistics do not seems to be generally available. CHIME might have a task here, starting with the selected case studies.

It would also be interesting to confront these questions with festival organizations’ mission & vision towards the relationship between music and place and audiences and place (if any), to evaluate up to what extend festival organizations are aware of their potential and their actual impact concerning the (re)-use of heritage.

​For example, what kind of audiences is targeted at? ​

  • (Yearly) returning audiences?​
  • Incidental festival audiences?​
  • Local audiences?​
  • Tourism targeted audiences?​
  • Pluriform audiences?​

A place for jazz: Resounding the landscape at music festivals

Luctor_et_Emergo-1441A position paper (no. 2) presented to the CHIME project team meeting, Amsterdam Conservatory, February 4 2016

In WP3, CHIME explores ways in which music and music festivals can provide new models for thinking about cultural heritage through an exploration of festival landscapes. It does so, among other things, by looking at three case studies, all of which are selected specifically for their engagement with different types of cultural heritage: North Sea Jazz Festival Curaçao, the SummerJazzCycleTour, and Jazz on the Waves. In this position statement I [Loes Rusch] propose a further exploration of music and music festivals as 1) practices of cultural heritage and 2) as a promotional tool for the protection and preservation of natural cultural heritage sites.

NSJ_Curacao

While the North Sea Jazz Festival Curaçao raises questions of the Netherlands’ colonial past and the ways in which different identities are negotiated through festivals, the SummerJazzCycleTour and Jazz on the Waves are particularly interesting because of its different approaches towards the re-use of typical Dutch landscapes and historical buildings.

The SummerJazzCycleTour, which ZJFTcelebrates its 30th anniversary this year, takes place in the province of Groningen in the north-eastern part of the Netherlands and makes its audiences cycle through the Reitdiep, an agricultural area with canals dug as early as the first half of the thirteenth century. Jazz on the Waves takes places on the island of Texel in the Wadden Sea, an intertidal zone in the south-eastern part of the North Sea, which is one of the world’s seas whose coastline has been most modified by humans, via a system of dikes and causeways on the mainland and low-lying coastal islands. In 2009, this area became part of UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

 

 

 

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Jazz and cultural heritage

The relationship between music or music festivals and cultural heritage is extensively studied, mostly in the area of popular music. The focus of these studies is mostly on the practice of music as cultural heritage, or as defined in a 2014 study by Amanda Brandellero and Susanne Janssen as “the preservation, exhibition, education and remembrance” of music, in many cases as supported and promoted by national and local public heritage institutions, often in connection with spatial planning and cultural tourism (Brandellero and Janssen 2014, 18).

ZJFT1

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Festival director Johan Gijsen on Le Guess Who?

A presentation held by festival director Johan Gijsen (Le Guess Who?) during the CHIME launch event and reception, Amsterdam Conservatory, February 4 2016.

 

Johan Gijsen_CHIME

To kick-off the Dutch CHIME launch, we invited Felix Schlarmann (Jazzfest, Amsterdam) and Johan Gijsen (Le Guess Who?, Utrecht), two young and innovative festival directors who have recently enriched the Dutch festival landscape with two distinct music festivals. We asked them to engage with some of CHIME’s research questions and discuss how these play out in the day-to-day reality of their festival. In which ways, for example, does the place of event impact the festival’s program and music, and what does it take to start and develop a successful and sustainable festival?

 

Transcript of the presentation by Johan Gijsen:

Why another festival?

It was 2007, when childhood friend and co-founder Bob van Heur and I felt that the most interesting developments taking place were in the periphery of pop music; where artists that don’t bother to play by the fixed rules and grids of pop music determinedly go their own direction. In the Dutch media and on national radio and TV was little or no room for precisely these interesting movements in pop music. Here we grumbled about among ourselves and figured that it was better to take the initiative here. We shared the enthusiasm and passion of the scene in Montreal at that time; Arcade Fire and Patrick Watson experimented with new sounds; there was an interesting almost incestuous scene surrounding Wolf Parade with its many side projects; impressive horn player Colin Stetson just moved there and the dark, experimental Constellation Records released Godspeed You Black Emperor’s beautiful albums with sounds that we had never heard.

Cover - Juri

At the end of November 2007 first edition of Le Guess Who? took place on two consecutive evenings in Tivoli, Utrecht. On the poster were 11 acts, which all came from Canada. Since then Le Guess Who? has developed into a four-day international festival for independent and innovative quality music in the city of Utrecht. Besides authentic or urgent pop music, the festival also presents non-western music, avant-garde, folk, jazz, ambient, psychedelica and contemporary music. Le Guess Who? interlinks these non-popular genres, and presents them in an easily accessible way: in the setting of an adventurous but approachable pop festival. It thus takes them out of the niche to serve a much larger universal audience.

 

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Why Jazz (and not, say, Rock or Folk) Music for Thinking about Festival and Cultural Heritage?

chime-logo jpegA position paper (no. 1) presented to the CHIME project team meeting, Amsterdam Conservatory, February 4 2016

 

Here are the opening sentences of the EU Heritage+ joint call grant application that the project team wrote in 2014, and which formed the basis of CHIME’s successful submission.

‘What an amazing experience, the clash of seeing Miles Davis in the Roman amphitheatre during the Nice Jazz Festival. The ancient stones and arches are re-sounded, the music somehow more resonant, old and modern at the same time. I’ll never forget that.’ This first-hand experience of a European festival-goer provided the initial inspiration for CHIME.

I (George McKay) want to interrogate the cultural space we have chosen a little further, which I hope will throw further light on my question, why look at jazz (and not, say, rock or folk) festivals?


There was a nice line tweeted on the CHIME Twitter feed recently, a quotation from Chris Goddard’s book Jazz Away From Home that sought to describe the experience of jazz in southern Europe, as a music ‘cut[ting] through the warm, humid Mediterranean night like a chainsaw through cheese’ (1979). Is jazz more cheese wire than chainsaw, do you think, though? If we want chainsaw music we need really to go to something more industrial—or agricultural—starting with the excessive, aggressive culture of rock music. Rock does after all sometimes feature a chainsaw: see southern US rock band Jackyl, who still finish each live set with their signature song ‘The lumberjack’ (the video is great and indeed a little Pythonesque, have a look: Jackyl 1992) in which the lead singer does a chainsaw solo (though not through cheese). (Here is a pressing question for the New Jazz Studies: has a jazz band featured a chainsaw solo, ever?)

So, for questions of the clash or disjunction between heritage, festival site and popular music, the jarring re-sounding when both our ears double-take in stereo, rock music would be very good to think about. Though its history as a popular music has been shorter than folk or jazz (50-60 years as opposed to 100-120, very approximately)—does that mean its heritage is reduced?—rock music can supply a very powerful shock of the new, not least through its characteristic of being superloud, via a practice of extreme volume and a competitive rather than functional culture of amplification. (Even to the extent of rock deafening its bands and fans: McKay 2013, chapter 4.) And its use of chainsaws.


In order to pursue the comparison with Miles in the amphitheatre in Nice, consider an archetypal rock festival-style concert / documentary film, Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (concert 1971, film 1972).

  • Filmed with the band playing live, over 4 days in October
  • Used their full and extensive tour amplification
  • Performances were filmed in front of no audience, an empty auditorium (rationale: in part a reaction against festival films like Woodstock, which had contained so many shots of festival-goers, the crowd)
  • It’s a slow, spacey music the band plays, with some very slow long camera focuses in/out and pans (2-3 minutes)
  • Located in the ancient Roman amphitheatre and with a backdrop of Vesuvius
  • Some key resonances: volcano/volume; block architecture of amphitheatre/PA/amp stacks
  • Grandeur of the location fits with the grandeur (or pretentiousness) of Pink Floyd’s musical vision and its filming. (To return to the comedic end of rock, we could think here instead of Spinal Tap and their Stonehenge stage.)


Or consider Glastonbury Festival, originating at much the same time as the Pink Floyd concert (legendary Glastonbury Fayre was held in 1971, also filmed). Near Glastonbury, in the deep green English countryside, there is the invention of tradition and what I’m calling the instant ancient: mist and myth, a stage in the shape of the Great Pyramid of Giza, set on a ley line, with a crystal on top, a Neolithic stone circle—built around 1990. Read More

How does CHIME chime? Producing an impact map

PrintWe want to capture in different forms ways in which the project is having impact — this can be through its collaboration between academics researchers and our parter organisations, including festival, music and sustainability / heritage groups.

For one of these we thought it would be a good idea to have a map of impact — of collaborations, relations — and to revisit this mapping exercise periodically through the project (e.g. on an annual basis) in order to visually capture its scope and spread. Click here to see the higher resolution version of our map of impact at the very start of the project.

This map is made from information gathered from project partners at our inception day event at EFG London Jazz Festival in the Royal Festival Hall in November 2015. We asked all academic partners present to identify up to three key activities, events, other projects, organisations, they were involved with in relation to the project, and to tell the rest of the room a little about each. We noted these down and subsequently produced an infographic-style version of them.

We aim to revisit and (this is our assumption…) add to this map in 2016 and again in 2017, producing a more complex version as work and collaboration takes place. Yes, more dots and curvy lines (we hope)! We anticipate that such an exercise will also illustrate the development of a project.

[Thanks to Rachel Daniel, administrator at University of East Anglia for George McKay and the Connected Communities Programme, including the Impact of Festivals project, for her work on this.]

Nice discovery…

20151215_121014In preparing a paper for the Hidden Musicians Conference in Milton Keynes, I came across this original programme from the 1948 Nice Jazz Festival in a family archive.

Nice is widely regarded as the first truly international jazz festival and the inaugural event featured a gathering of renowned US and European musicians, from Louis Armstrong and Rex Stewart to Claude Luter and Humphrey Lyttleton. The 1948 Festival was housed at the Opera in Nice but, in subsequent years, the event began to use the city’s amphitheatre as a main outdoor venue.

 

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Links to reports and resources about the impact of festivals

Library Jazz Event noticeI thought some people interested in CHIME would like to know of a very useful page on the website of a related new Arts & Humanities Research Council-funded project from the University of East Anglia, The Impact of Festivals. The post-doctoral researcher on The Impact of Festivals is Dr Emma Webster, who spent much of November acting as researcher-in-residence at the EFG London Jazz Festival, and contributed to the CHIME inception event there in November.

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Here’s One I Made Earlier…

Following our inspiring few days down at the London Jazz Festival, I thought it might be interesting to share this blog post I wrote last year about Manchester International Festival. This picks up some of the themes that we are interested in exploring as part of the project, so worth a little recycle me thinks…

Originally appeared on http://ontheplatform.org.uk/article/rethinking-sustainable-festivals-spotlight-manchester-international-festival, 2014

Sustainable Spotlight on Manchester International Festival

Manchester International Festival (MIF) is the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events and takes place biennially in Manchester, UK. The Festival launched in 2007 as an artist-led, commissioning festival presenting new works from across the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture. In this article, drawing on interviews with different members of the MIF team, Beth Perry highlights their less well popularized but equally important role in contributing to Greater Manchester’s environmental sustainability.

MIF prides itself on having made a significant commitment to reducing the environmental impacts of its office operations and was the first festival to be independently certified as meeting the sustainable events standard, BS8901, as well as a recipient of A Greener Festival award. Whilst the ethos of being artist-led is central to their mission, benefitting the local economy, engaging local communities and minimizing its environmental impact are also stated core principles. Examples of activities have included: greening the office space; sourcing and creating productions responsibly and working with partner venues to reduce the environmental impact of MIF events.

Greening the Office Space Read More

About the CHIME logo

chime-logoThe CHIME logo, designed by Marijn van Beek in collaboration with PI Walter van de Leur, captures some of the main ideas that come together in the project. The main form is inspired by the quote that opened our proposal:

“What an amazing experience, the clash of seeing Miles Davis in the Roman amphitheatre during the Nice Jazz Festival. The ancient stones and arches are resounded, the music somehow more resonant, old and modern at the same time. I’ll never forget that…”

The amphitheatre – its individual segments suggestive of castle towers — at the same time alludes to an LP record, while its colour scheme calls up the 1950s jazz cover art for Blue Note, Prestige and Atlantic.

The font of the lettering is called Montserrat, which is the name of a number of heritage sites across the world, from Catalonia to Buenos Aires. And yes, there is a Montserrat jazz festival (at the Montserrat College of Art, USA). And no, there are no bell chimes to be found in our logo.