Q&A with Dr Damian Evans looking ahead to the Documenting Jazz conference
Billed as the first jazz conference in Ireland and to be held over three days the Dublin conference at the newly named Technological University Dublin marks the centenary of the first documented jazz performance anywhere in the 32 counties. Keynote speakers are Krin Gabbard whose books include Better Git It in Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus; andGabriel Solis author of Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall.
Organiser Dr Damian Evans explains more in this Q&A:
How did you come up with the idea and why? When I finished my PhD, I wanted to stay in contact with the European jazz studies research community and in particular bring some more awareness in Ireland to the fascinating research being conducted in Europe and globally. The timing seemed perfect with the 100th anniversary of jazz performance in Ireland. The conference was a way of bringing some of those scholars to Ireland, to try to develop and foster an Irish jazz studies community and at the same time add to my own list of experiences. I was one of the founders of the Galway Jazz Festival so organising large events wasn’t entirely outside of my skill set.
How do you think jazz has developed in Ireland in the last decade? Tough question. I think there are fewer performance opportunities for most musicians. It’s become more of a band scene rather than individual musicians. The younger scene has developed, as it usually does, and as could be expected, their influences are wide and varied. I haven’t gotten out to nearly as many gigs as I would have liked to have in the last four years or so, but there are a lot of good musicians, though it’s as difficult as ever to turn into a career.
Why the focus on Documenting and what do you mean by that? Could you give some examples? Anytime we talk about a representation of jazz that isn’t live performance, we are talking about documenting jazz. Liner notes, posters, internet images, blog posts, newspaper archives, recordings, movies, the list goes on. Often when we are talking about jazz, it is these things we are talking about. The process of documentation is a process of mediation, in which meaning is created and embedded. It shapes how we understand the music, and ultimately what the music becomes.
Who will be speaking and what will they be speaking about? There will be 25 3-speaker panels so approximately 75 speakers. There is an extensive range of topics, that can be found on the draft programme on the website. From historical analysis to critical analysis to lecture recitals, from pre-jazz to the present. From Japan to Ireland to America and everywhere in-between. The conference website can be accessed here.