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Duke Ellington’s Newport Up! – Collecting, Liveness, and the Seductive Menace of Jazz Recordings Revisited

Event information

START DATE 4 December 2014
START TIME 06:00pm

Middlesex University Concert Room, Grove B building, The Burroughs, Hendon, London, NW4 4BT

Improvisation is a prime site for exploring the ideas of spontaneity, pre-conception, and the recorded artefact.

Returning to Jazz for this event in our Concerts & Colloquia series, Plymouth University's Dr Katherine Williams presents a paper in which she explores the paradox presented by the 'live' jazz recording, which cements music prized for its liveness on fixed records.

The primary case study of Dr Williams' paper is Duke Ellington's notorious performance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1956. The paper considers the feted live recording and its subsequent loss, the hastily assembled studio recording released in its place, and the eventual discovery and release of the original tapes.

Through a comparison of the improvised solos contained on the two recordings, and by manipulating Philip Auslander's ideas of liveness and mediatisation in popular music into a jazz setting, Dr Williams draws conclusions about the implications of spontaneity, forward planning, and fixed improvisation in jazz.

Dr Katherine Williams is Lecturer in Music at Plymouth University. Her research interests centre on music that evades traditional notions of genre, reflected in her current research on the production techniques involved in Duke Ellington's 1956 Newport recordings, and her forthcoming monograph on the coexistence of popular and Western art music in the singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright's output (Rufus Wainwright, Equinox, 2015). She is co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Singer-Songwriter (forthcoming, 2016), and the Singer-Songwriter Handbook (Bloomsbury, 2017).

Her interest in Duke Ellington's life and music was triggered by her PhD study at the University of Nottingham, where she evaluated the fruitful application of traditions and techniques from Western Art music to jazz. Prior to joining Plymouth University in 2014, Katherine lectured in musicology on the Jazz and Music Production pathways at Leeds College of Music, was Visiting Lecturer in the School of Music at Cardiff University, and taught saxophone and assisted on various modules and research projects at the University of Bristol.

Our weekly Concerts and Colloquia series brings high-calibre guest speakers and performers from across music to Middlesex.

Hosted by the Music department, all events are free and will be followed by refreshments. Guests can simply turn up, tickets are not required. If you have any questions please contact Nick Nikeforou.

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