Research café: Jazz diasporas in-the-making
Martin Harris Centre for Music & Drama
15th December 2022
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In this research café, Alexander Gagatsis, Lecturer in Jazz Studies at The University of Manchester, Simon Industrial and Professional Fellows Yazz Ahmed and Carlos Maldonado are joined by ethnomusicologist Evanthia Patsiaoura to reflect on their fellowship and their collaboration.
Together we will examine some of the ways in which jazz diasporas are constituted through the project participants and their involvement in the Jazz Ensemble’s lunchtime concert on Thursday 15 December 2022, which premières the new composition ‘Zaha’ by Yazz Ahmed, commissioned for the purposes of this interdisciplinary study.
Rather than focusing on established definitions of jazz and displacement, we respond to how the genre is informed by knowledge-makers in their capacity as artists in collaboration with scholars and students of jazz. Drawing on multi-modal perspectives including musical practice, listening and discourse, we situate 21st-century jazz diasporas in a multi-layered nexus of meaning and understanding. Crucially, we encounter the ‘diasporic’ character of jazz as performed and negotiated through the very ‘now’ of this collaboration.
Alexander Gagatsis is Lecturer in Jazz Studies at The University of Manchester, where he teaches jazz historiography and criticism, improvisation, theory and analysis, performance, and on topics in Balkan and popular music(s). His research interests are consistently informed by his practice and experience as an improvising percussionist, whether in jazz, Balkan and contemporary music or their fusion.
Yazz Ahmed is a British-Bahraini trumpet and flugelhorn player. Through her music, she seeks to blur the lines between jazz and electronic sound design, bringing together the sounds of her mixed heritage in what has been described as ‘psychedelic Arabic jazz, intoxicating and compelling’. Yazz has led her various ensembles in concerts worldwide, including performances in the UK, New York, Toronto, Kuwait, Algiers, Berlin, Köln, Paris, Istanbul, Tunis and Amsterdam. Her career is studded with high-profile collaborations, which have seen her record and perform with Radiohead, Lee Scratch Perry, ABC and Swing Out Sister.
Carlos Maldonado is a grammy winning multi-percussionist, educator, arranger and composer. He was born and raised in Carolina, Puerto Rico. A talented musician, Carlos stands out brilliantly in the music world as Afro-Latin, Symphonic and Mallet percussionist.
In 2009 he became a member of the innovative Latin jazz ensemble of the legendary trombonist/composer Papo Vazquez Mighty Pirates Troubadours. Since 2013 he has been a member of the Grammy winner Arturo O’Farrill Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra that have a home every Sunday night at the legendary Birdland Jazz Club.
Evanthia Patsiaoura works on the intersections of music, spiritual experience, popular culture and locality and has conducted multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in Brazil, Greece, Nigeria, the UK and social media. She teaches a range of UG and PG course units in Ethnomusicology, Ethnography and Fieldwork.