Research Context

Despite its rather unique orientation towards arts-based research, the proposed project is situated within the current trend in European jazz studies regarding inheritance, local thought and identity. These research topics also reflect pressing issues referring to the cultural dynamics within the pan-European society.

The publication of the European Real Book in 2005 has marked the rising awareness and consciousness of a distinct European musical approach in jazz.[1] The popularity of Stuart Nicholson’s thoughts on the identity of European jazz, such as his definition of the concept of Glocalization in his recent book Is Jazz Dead? Or Has It Moved To A New Address in 2005 has stirred a vital discussion among scholars, critics and practitioners. The recently initiated, HERA-funded (Humanities in the European Research Area) research project Rhythm Changes: Jazz Cultures and European Identities represents a large comparative international project, which examines inherited traditions and identities of European jazz practices. The institute for jazz research at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Graz is involved as one of the principal investigators in this project. Another large research project in Canada called Improvisation, Community and Social Practice investigates the role of improvisation on today’s culture and society.

The wide-spread interest regarding aspects of cultural identity in jazz research is also reflected by the thematic foci of European jazz conferences in recent years. Conference themes, such as Jazz: Places and Spaces (Leeds 2008), Multiculturalisms and the Arts (Turku 2008), Jazz and Jazz Research in Europe (Graz, 2009), as well as the focus on internationalisation in jazz at the upcoming 9th Nordic Jazz Conference serve as indicators therefore. Subsequent conference proceedings, as well as other publications, such as Jazz in Europa of the series Darmstädter Jazzforum (Ed. Wolfram Knauer), address similar topics.[2]

Investigations regarding communities within the European continent include national accounts, of which the books Jazz in Österreich: 1920-1960, Jazz in Deutschland, Musikszene Schweiz are of particular relevance for the German speaking part of Europe.[3] Examinations of local communities in the same are include Der Frankfurt Sound, Jazz in München, and Jazz in Graz. The latter publication focuses on historical accounts until 1960.[4]

However, there is a notable lack of an examination of the current jazz scene in Graz and there is no other known initiative, which has aimed for an arts-based investigation of topics such as inheritance and identity in jazz in Graz.

The city of Graz has traditionally served as an international ‘hub’ regarding inherited and idiosyncratic forms of jazz. Due to the international reputation of the institutes for jazz and jazz research at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, its activities in the field of jazz education and arts-based research have attracted jazz students and professional jazz artists from many parts in the world since the mid-1960s. In that sense, the jazz scene and society of Graz is representative of other modern, internationally well-connected cities.

[1] Sher C. (ed.), The European Real Book: 
The Best of Contemporary Jazz from Europe,
Petaluma 2005.

[2] Knauer W. (ed.), “Jazz in Europa”, in: Darmstädter Beiträge zur Jazzforschung, Vol. 3, 
Hofheim 1994.

[3] Schulz, K., Jazz in Österreich 1920-1960, Wien 2003.; Knauer, W., (ed.), “Jazz in Deutschland”, in: Darmstädter Beiträge zur Jazzforschung, Vol. 5, Hofheim 1996.; Merki, C., (ed.), Musikszene Schweiz. Begegnungen mit Menschen und Orten, 
Zürich 2009.;

[4] Schwab, J., Der Frankfurt Sound: Eine Stadt und ihre Jazzgeschichte(n), Frankfurt 2005.; Wilhelm H. and Kurz. G., Jazz in München von den 20er bis zu den 80er Jahren, 
München 2007.; Kolleritsch, E., “Jazz in Graz: Von den Anfängen nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg bis zu seiner akademischen Etablierung”, in: Beiträge zur Jazzforschung / Studies in Jazz Research, Vol. 10, Graz 1995.


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