Welcome, and thanks for visiting this page outlining my research. I am currently researching music performance as a PhD student at the University of Hull under the supervision of Peter Elsdon and Toby Martin. Funding for my research is courtesy of the North of England Consortium of Arts and Humanities.
My research is situated on the nexus between three strands of inquiry: interaction in jazz performance, an analytical and contextual examination of Chick Corea's trio performances from the Rendezvous in New York DVD, and performance as means of conducting critical research. I would like to take a moment to deconstruct and explain each of these elements.
Interaction in Jazz Performance
For the non-improvising musician or layperson, the notion that jazz performance is interactive might seem ambiguous or hard to comprehend. To aid in describing this phenomenon, I would like to draw upon a common metaphor used to discuss improvisation: music is like language. In this context, we could view improvisation (and the resultant interaction and interplay) as a spontaneous—but detailed—conversation between people. Consider how the discussion might evolve, how each person might listen and respond, how the pace of the conversation ebbs and flows, how contributions might converge or indeed diverge, how each person's individual and unique syntactical and linguistic characteristics might show through. All this occurs within a framework, both with respect to the structures and syntax of the language being used, and the topic being discussed.
Drawing on the pathbreaking work of scholars such as Ingrid Monson, Paul Berliner, Paul Steinbeck, Garrett Michaelson, and many others, I will position interaction in jazz performance as not only a social and cultural manifestation but as a fundamental, and active constituent of an ensemble's or performance's overarching aesthetic.
Chick Corea's Rendezvous in New York
I shall avoid a detailed biography of Chick Corea, however, if you are interested in discovering a little more about him do check out his website by clicking here. Rendezvous in New York is a ten-disc DVD (and in fact, also a two-disc CD) detailing Corea's 60th birthday celebration during December 2001, at The Blue Note in New York. This series of gigs featured many of Corea's past projects and celebrated his career of fruitful, and musical, friendships; these projects range from a duet with Gary Burton to performances from the Three Quartets Band and Origin project. My research is focussing on the three trio ensembles from this series: The Now He Sings, Now He Sobs Trio (featuring Miroslav Vitous on double bass, and Roy Haynes on drums); The Akoustic Band (featuring Dave Weckl on drums, and John Patitucci on double bass); and Chick Corea's New Trio (featuring Avishai Cohen on double bass, and Jeff Ballard on drums).
The body of work examining Corea's place in the jazz canon is extremely sparse, with less than five items of scholarly output available (a book, an article, and two theses). Furthermore, his presence in the commonly accessed jazz history books (such as Ted Gioia's The History of Jazz, or Mervyn Cooke's Jazz), or even academically orientated works such as Gary Giddins and Scott DeVaeux's Jazz is scant. Ergo, there is ample space to expand further and explicate Corea's unique voice, and his impact on the ever-evolving domain of jazz.
How can performance inform research in musicology? Why bother doing this element at all? There is some debate in musicological circles about the utility of performance-led research. Some argue that the object-subject dichotomy is useful, while others posit that privileged insight from the performer provides access to embodied knowledge and understanding unattainable through traditional discourse.
That notwithstanding, there is a spectrum of methodologies open to the practitioner-scholar. These range from an implicit connection between writing, or traditional discourse (the thesis, in my case), and performance (the portfolio)—here it is assumed that playing music will help inform writing about music. Then we move through an auto-ethnographic space, in which one might write explicitly about performance; for example, this could be a case study on learning to improvise or, indeed, any particular aspect of performance. And then finally arrive at a space in which the act of creation (performance) is itself research, without the need for further documentation or expounding. Where will my research be situated? Probably between an implicit and explicit connection between documentation, traditional discourse, and performance.