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Black Social Improvisation from Jazz to Turntablism

Beyond the entertainment value of black expressive cultures, what might be the social utility of improvisational artistic engagements? Moving through Marc Anthony Neal's essay "Jazz, Hip Hop, and Black Social Improvisation", this Thinking Spaces Session examines the wide-ranging and productive ways in which improvisational acts within black expressive cultures do more than simply entertain others or generate income. The aesthetic logic that allows for stylistic and expressive acts of improvisation within urbanized African American communities, dating back to the 1940s, suggests rich possibilities for the pursuit of social justice within marginalized communities via improvisatory acts. Moving through examples in bebop, hip hop and turntablism, Postdoctoral Fellow Mark V. Campbell will lead a discussion that explores some of the ways in which the building and maintaining of health communities, cultural and geographic, are made possible through improvisatory acts embedded within black expressive culture.

...partly because I know that’s the only way that we could solve a creative problem [using improvisation with children ranging in abilities] and what doesn’t work is trying to impose a template on the students who are not able to respond to that template.

– Pauline Oliveros (in working with Abilities First)