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Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium 2014

2014 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium: Sounding Futures

University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, September 3-5, 2014

Call for Papers

“The future is always here in the past” -Amiri Baraka, “Jazzmen: Diz & Sun Ra”

“We will make our own future Text" -Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo

The Guelph Jazz Festival, in conjunction with the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, the University of Guelph, and the SSHRC funded International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) invites proposals for presentations at our annual three ‐ day international interdisciplinary conference. This year's colloquium will take place September 3rd to 5th as part of the 21st annual Guelph Jazz Festival (September 3-7). It will bring together a diverse range of scholars, creative practitioners, arts presenters, policy makers, and members of the general public. Featuring workshops, panel discussions, keynote lectures, performances, and dialogues among researchers, artists, and audiences, the annual colloquium cuts across a range of social and institutional locations and promotes a dynamic international exchange of cultural forms and knowledges.

In celebration of the centennial of musician, bandleader, and Astro-black philosopher Sun Ra’s arrival on planet earth, and in keeping with Ra’s use of music as a way to envision – and indeed to create – other possible futures, this year’s colloquium asks, What does your future sound like? How might jazz and improvised music offer ways into other and future realities? One of the legacies of Ra’s lifework has been the fusion, in his own performances and compositions, of Egyptian iconography with sounds, texts, and imagery of space travel and technology. The mid-1990s saw Marc Dery and other scholars formalize this aesthetic vision around the term “Afrofuturism.” As Dery has put it, “African American voices have other stories to tell about culture, technology and things to come. If there is an Afrofuture, it must be sought in unlikely places, constellated from far-flung points.” From the Afrofuturism of the Sun Ra Arkestra and the “sonic fiction” of Kodwo Eshun, to the Afro Science fiction of Octavia Butler, to the recent work of artists such as Nicole Mitchell and the works of feminist and other visionary thinkers, to other multiple and hybridized notions of futurity, music and sound have long been vital focal points for social movements and utopian imaginings.

In his Foreword to a special issue on Technologies and Black Music in the Americas of the Journal of the Society for American Music, George E. Lewis asks, “what can the sound tell us about the Afrofuture? How can we develop a new theoretical and descriptive language that both complements and exceeds the purview of the terms ‘music,’ ‘sound,’ and ‘listening’”? This year’s colloquium seeks to extend this line of questioning by focusing on the “other stories” that might be sounded about the future through jazz and improvisatory artistic practices. Possible topics might include (but are not limited to) the place of Afrofuturism and other liberatory sono-futurist movements in the historical narrative of jazz and improvised music, the ways in which other artistic mediums (literature, theatre, dance, visual art) grapple with the sound of future-making, how minoritized and subjugated communities embrace creative technologies and future visions in their expressive output and cultural production. We also invite papers and presentations on the lifework of Sun Ra.

We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary work that speaks to both an academic audience and a general public. We welcome presentations in a range of creative and unconventional formats, including but not limited to dance, theatre, spoken word, music, multi-media, and film. What might it be like, for example, to exemplify the sound of the future through concrete samplings of different forms of musical practice that herald new directions in improvised musicking? Please indicate the format of your presentation and any technical or other resources required. We also invite presenters to submit completed versions of their papers to our peer ‐ reviewed journal, Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation ( for consideration.

The Colloquium is presented by the Guelph Jazz Festival, in conjunction with the Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice project, the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, and the University of Guelph.

See bottom of page for links to the 2014 Abstracts & Bios and the original Call For Papers.

All events at Macdonald Stewart Art Centre.
All events are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, September 3rd

9:00-9:15 Welcome and Opening Remarks

  • Ajay Heble (Director, International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation)
  • John Livernois (Interim Vice-President, Research and External Partnerships, University of Guelph)

9:15-10:30 Keynote - Sun Ra on Earth

John Szwed (Centre for Jazz Studies, Columbia University)

10:30-12:00 Roundtable 1 - AUMI Futurism: Adaptive Performance in ‘Turning the Page,’ ‘(Un)Rolling the Boulder’ … and Beyond!!!!

  • Kip Haaheim (School of Music, University of Kansas)
  • Jesse Stewart (School for Studies in Art and Culture, Carleton University)
  • Sherrie Tucker (American Studies, University of Kansas)
  • Pete Williams (American Studies, University of Kansas)

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:00 Workshop / Performance - Other Stories: Sounding the Future (South Korea/USA/Ontario/Nova Scotia)

Dong-Won Kim, Dana Reason (Host), Ben Grossman, Matt Brubeck, Gary Diggins, and Paul Cram

2:15-3:45 Roundtable 2 - Improvisation, Community Health, and Social Practice

  • Moderator: Deborah Wong
  • Rebecca Caines (Creative Technologies, University of Regina), Rick Kotowich (Native Health Services, Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region), & Amanda Schenstead (Wascana Rehabilitation Centre), “Improvising with iPads: A Partnered Inquiry into Technology-based Music Therapy, Improvisation and Cultural Expression in Health Settings”
  • Sandra Paola Lopez and Chris Reyman (In2Improv), “Improvising New Realities: Movement, Sound and Social Therapeutics”
  • Sara Ramshaw (School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast) and Paul Stapleton (Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast), “Sounding the Future: Transposing Musical Improvisation: The Case of Child Protection in Northern Ireland”

4:00-5:00 Roundtable 3: “What Will Listening Be Like in the Future?”: Jazz Journalists in Conversation

  • Moderator: John Corbett
  • Kurt Gottschalk
  • James Hale
  • Howard Mandel

8:00 Guelph Jazz Festival Ticketed Concert - John Heward and Barre Phillips 80th Birthday Celebration


Thursday, September 4th

9:00-10:15 Keynote: We Are In the Future: Fifteen Thoughts on the Next Phase

John Corbett (School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

10:30-12:00 Panel 1A: Sun Ra: Myth, History, Invention

  • Moderator: Brian Lefresne
  • Jonathan Adjemian (Social and Political Thought, York University), “Of Afterness and After”
  • Keith Cartwright (Literature, University of North Florida), “From “Magic City” to “Mayan Temples”: Muse, Musication, and Mythos in the Outer Spatial Reaches of Ra’s Arkestra”
  • Marcel Swiboda (School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds, UK) “Sun Ra’s Philosophical ‘Spiritual Exercises’ and the Improvisational ‘Permutation’ of the Present”

10:30-12:00 Panel 1B: Healthy Futures: Improvisation, Community, and Pedagogy

  • Moderator: Ingrid Mundel
  • Stephanie Khoury (Music Education, McGill University), “Re-imagining the Role of Improvisation in Music Education”
  • Matthew Neil (Ethnomusicology, University of California, Riverside), “Creative Agency, Musical Autonomy, and Post-Raciality in Temple University’s Jazz Studies Program”
  • Ariel Swan (McGill University), “Creativity and Chaos: Exploring a Community-Based Improvisation Workshop”

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:00 Workshop / Performance - “We Lost Half the Forest and the Rest will Burn this Summer”

Postcommodity (USA)

2:15-4:00 Panel 2A: Afrofuturism

  • Moderator: Rob Wallace
  • Douglas Clarke (Social and Political Thought, York University), “Signifyin’ and Improvisin’: Papa Legba, Improvisation and Afrofuturism”
  • Daniel Marrone (Humanities and Cultural Studies, University of London), “Shadows of Tomorrow: Kool Keith, Madvillain, and Afrofuturist Historiography”
  • Chris Stover (Music Theory and Composition, New School), “‘Mau-Mao’: Afro-Futurism and Afro-Asian Activism in Fred Ho’s Sweet Science Suite”
  • Camille Turner (Art, Culture and Community Building, University of Toronto’s New College), “HUSH: Sonic Black Geographies Across Canada”

2:15-4:00 Panel 2B: Intermedial Influences

  • Moderator: Julie Cairnie
  • Carolyn Hart (Creative Writing, London Metropolitan University), “At the Crossroads: Trans-Atlantic Exchange, ‘Jazz Writing’ and Hybrid Literatures”
  • Brian Lefresne (School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph), “A Fool in Space: Sun Ra the Jester”
  • Isabela Stefanescu (Globe Studios, Kitchener), “The Voices of Drawing”

Onstage Interview

Randy Weston interviewed by Vijay Iyer (Harvard University)

5:30 Guelph Jazz Festival Ticketed Concert - Pugs and Crows with Special Guest Tony Wilson (BC)


Friday September 5th

9:15-10:15 Performance

Dong-Won Kim and Jesse Stewart (South Korea/Ontario)

10:30-12:00 Panel 3A: Beyond Humanity

  • Moderator: Rachel Elliott
  • Kimber Sider (School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph), “Playing in Silence: Exploring Inter-species Resonance through Human/Equine Improvisation”
  • Chris Tonelli (Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice, University of Guelph), “Chronologies and Conflicts: The Extra-Normal Voice in Free Jazz”
  • Tom Zlabinger (Music, York College/CUNY), “Robot Man, Will You Sing? Visions of Jazz Automatons”

10:30-12:00 Panel 3B: Sound Projections, Astral Projections: New Ways of Knowing, New Ways of Being

  • Moderator: Christine Bold
  • James Gordon Williams (African American Studies, Syracuse University), “Sun Ra Presentation/Performance: Sun Ra’s Epistemology”
  • Clelia Ciardulli (The Audacious Art Experiment, Sheffield, UK), “What Does My Future Sound Like?”
  • Jeff Schwartz & Charles Sharp (California State University, Fullerton), “The Decisive Instant and the Futures of Creative Music”

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:00 Workshop / Performance - The Komagata Maru Project

Neelamjit Dhillon Quartet (BC)

2:15-3:15 Keynote - Black Utopia LP – A Cauleen Smith Movie

Cauleen Smith

5:00 Guelph Jazz Festival Ticketed Concert - Ernst Reijseger (Netherlands)


This colloquium is generously sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Lloyd Carr-Harris Foundation, the Chawkers Foundation, the SOCAN Foundation, Canadian Heritage/Patrimoine canadien, OX, the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, the Office of the President, the Office of the Vice-President (Research), the Office of the Associate Vice-President (Student Affairs), the School of English and Theatre Studies, the School of Fine Art and Music, the School of Languages and Literatures, and the Central Student Association at the University of Guelph.

Archived Call For Papers

Download the original call for papers by clicking here.
Download the 2014 Colloquium Abstracts and Bios by clicking here.

If people talked the way they drummed in improvisation, then I think the world would be a lot nicer…

– Youth participant, ICASP improvisation workshop