Saturday, September 17, 2011


The second day of the colloquium presented in conjunction with the jazz festival featured talks and workshops on everything from the use of musical improvisation in Nigerian social activism to organizational practices in laptop orchestras. I was particularly interested in Tegan Ceschi-Smith's paper on Mingus's "Fables of Faubus" and the record company censorship Mingus faced. Francois Houle, here depicted with his clarinet, delivered a fascinating discussion of "poetic restructuralist aspects in live performance," including a practical demonstration. There was a morning performance in which musicians created an improvised soundscape as the Mexican artist Jazzmoart strung paper snakes about the room and moved through the performance space and audience drawing and painting with the emerging music. Canadian musicians The Rent returned for an afternoon workshop detailing their work on Steve Lacy's "Tips," which it turns out several in the audience hadn't known of as the CD appears to be out of print. Lacy worked often with texts, especially poetry, and I was beginning to silently celebrate the strong presence of poetry at this year's festival.

Which continued in my own keynote lecture, "Meeting Over Yonder," taking up the program William Parker has created reimagining the music of Curtis Mayfield with poetry in performance by Amiri Baraka, a project that had in fact been performed at an earlier Guelph festival. Sorry to say I have no photos from my keynote. Perhaps one of the many other photographers on the scene will send me something. This session was something of a reunion as well; I was introduced by Rob Wallace, a fine scholar and drummer I had met years ago on a visit to UC Santa Barbara's English Department. (You really should drop by your library and check out Rob's great book, Improvisation and the Making of American Literary Modernism, which you can read about by following this link.) And while you're visiting that site, click on this link and buy a copy of William Parker's official release of his Curtis Mayfield project.

[even the local beaver was inspired to try a percussion improv outside the hall]

After a reception in the art gallery, we all made the trek across town to the River Run Center for an evening concert featuring Canadian improvisers TILTING followed by a trio improvisation led by Paul Plimley with the aforementioned William Parker on bass. Gerry Hemingway was supposed to play with them, but was still in the air between England and the US, so his place was ably taken by a Canadian drummer who was able to get to Guelph in time to confer with Parker and Plimley about what they were about. Check the next Guelph blog for a photo of Hemingway, who arrived in time to play later in the festival.

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