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Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium 2015

Guelph, Ontario - September 16-18 2015

Among the People: Arts, Improvisation, and Well-Being

To download the original call for papers, please click here.
To download a document with presenter bios and abstracts, please click here.


Events will take place at 3 downtown venues, Heritage Hall, Musagetes, and Silence. Click here for a custom map showing the three locations.
(H): Heritage Hall (83 Essex St.)
(M): Musagetes (6 Dublin St. South)
(S): Silence (46 Essex St.)

Wednesday September 16th

8:30-9:00 Coffee and Refreshments (M)

9:00 Welcome and Introductory Remarks (M)

9:15-10:15 Plenary Panel: Arts-Based Community Making (M)
• Daniel Weinstock, Moderator (McGill University)
• Jo-Ann Episkenew (IPHRC / First Nations University of Canada)
• John Semple (Women's College Hopsital)
• Laura Stinson (Wilfrid Laurier University)
• Shawn Van Sluys (Musagetes)

10:30-12:00 Panel Showcase: Regina Improvisation Studies Centre: Improvisation, Community, Indigeneity (M)
Moderator: Patrick Case
• Rebecca Caines (University of Regina), Jo-Ann Episkenew (IPHRC / First Nations University of Canada), Erin Goodpipe (University of Regina), “Acting Out! But in a Good Way!”
• Rick Kotowich (Native Health Services, Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region), “Improvising with iPads: Using Improv Games and Music Making to Affirm Aboriginal Cultural Expression, Build Community, and Foster Creativity to Enhance Well-being in Healthcare Settings”
• Charity Marsh (University of Regina), “‘Ignite the Future/ Joined by the Past’: Global Youth Empowerment through Hip Hop Improvisations”

12:00-1:00 Lunch (M)

1:15-2:45 Panel 1A: Listening at the Edges of Music (S)
Moderator: Christine Bold
• Kevin McNeilly (University of British Columbia), “Edgy Listening: Evan Parker and Jean-Luc Nancy”
• Sara Ramshaw (University of Exeter), “Just Listening: Improvisation for the Health and Well-Being of Law”
• Kimber Sider (University of Guelph), “Playing in Silence, Speaking through Resonance, Moving Meaning”

1:15-2:45 Panel 1B: Improvisation, Tradition, Memory (M)
Moderator: Rebecca Caines
• Douglas Clarke (York University), “Death comes a-Creeping in the Room: Funerals with Music and Improvisation”
• Brian Lefresne (University of Guelph), “[AA(CM)2]: Masculinity, Memory, and the AACM, 1965-2015”
• Gabriel Levine (Concordia University), “Message to our Folks: Tradition, Improvisation, and the AACM’s ‘Mobility of Practice’”

3:00-3:45 Workshop: Georgia Simms (Guelph, ON): Communicating and Connecting through Dance (M)

4:00-4:45 Workshop: Battle Trance (H)

Thursday September 17th

8:30-9:00 Coffee and Refreshments (M)

9:00-10:00 Keynote Presentation: Douglas Ewart, Interviewed by Ajay Heble (M)

10:15-12:00 Panel 2A: Musical Practice and Personal Transformation (S)
Moderator: Rachel Elliott
• Kathe Gray (York University), "Don't Worry That It's Not Good Enough for Anyone Else to Hear": Finding Voice through Vocal Improvisation"
• Kathryn Ladano (Wilfrid Laurier University), "The Pedagogical Benefits of Practicing Free Improvisation"
• Travis Laplante, "Wisdom, Love, and Vitality: The Aspects of the Great Improviser"
• Brent Rowan (Wilfrid Laurier University), "The Impact of a Jazz Improvisation Experience on an Amateur Adult Musician's Mind, Body, and Spirit"

10:15-12:00 Panel 2B: Community Arts and Place-Making (M)
Moderator: Ingrid Mundel
• Lisa Hirmer (Guelph, ON) & Elizabeth Jackson (International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation), “Stopgaps, Beasts, + Other Strategies of Being in Public Space”
• Marian Jago (York University), “Improvised Music as a Means of Place Making”
• Rii Numata (Kawasaki University of Medical Welfare), “The Otoasobi Project: Musical Improvisation to Create New Values for People with and Without Disabilities
• Kim Wide (Take A Part, UK), “Improvising to Change: Community Embedded Art and Improvisational Practice”

12:00-1:00 Lunch (M)

1:00-2:00 Workshop: Tony Wilson and a Day's Life Band (H)

2:15-2:45 Presentation: Josslyn Luckett (University of Pennsylvania): "Koto Strings and Peyote Chants that Swing: Toward A Wider Rebellion in Jazz Documentary" (M)

3:00-3:30 Presentation: Rene Meshake, "The Gift of the Red-Tailed Hawk Flute" (M)

Friday September 18th

8:30-9:00 Coffee and Refreshments (M)

9:00-10:00 Roundtable Discussion: The Practice of Improvisation, the Freedom of Discipline: A Workshop and Roundtable Discussion on Practicing Musical Improvisation, Individual Health, and Community Well-Being
• Alex W. Rodriguez (University of California, Los Angeles)
• Joe Sorbara (University of Guelph)
• Rob Wallace (Bowling Green State University)

10:15-12:00 Panel 3A: In These Times: Music, Resilience, and Community Engagement (S)
Moderator: Rob Wallace
• Jeff Albert (Loyala University New Orleans), “Improvising Community: A Participant’s Account of the Improvised Music Community in New Orleans Since 2005”
• Brian Jones (University of Richmond / College of William and Mary), “Scott Clark’s Bury My Heart: Considering the Sonics of Aesthetic Resistance”
• Matthew Neil (University of California, Riverside), “Jazz is Dead: Popular (Mis)conceptions of the Health of the Genre”
• Marcel Swiboda (University of Leeds), “Technological Tales of the Unexpected, Or What Happens When the Timelines of Musical Improvisation and Digital Culture Converge”

10:30-12:00 Panel 3B: Conflict, Creativity, Capacity: Pursuing Well-Being through Improvisation (M)
Mdoerator and Respondent: David Lee (University of Guelph)
• Arthur Bull (Halifax, NS), "Creating Alternative Spaces: Conflict Resolution and Improvised Music"
• Lauren Levesque (Saint Paul University), "'Stirring People's Minds and Hearts': The Role(s) of Improvisation and Spirituality in Pursuits of Well-Being and Peace"
• Laurel Ralston (Ottawa, ON), "Rehearsing the Unknown"

12:00-1:00: Lunch (M)

1:00-2:00 Workshop: Morning Music (S)

2:15-3:15 Keynote Presentation: Evan Parker, Interviewed by Kevin McNeilly (M)

3:30-4:30 Keynote Presentation: Matana Roberts (M)

This colloquium is generously sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Lloyd Carr-Harris Foundation, the SOCAN Foundation, Canadian Heritage/ Patrimoine canadien, Ontario Arts Council, Musagetes, Bobby O’Brien’s Irish Pub, CFRU 93.3 FM, the Art Gallery of Guelph, the Office of the Vice-President (Research), the Office of the Associate Vice-President (Student Affairs), the College of Arts, the School of English and Theatre Studies, and the Central Student Association at the University of Guelph.

Call for Papers – 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), a groundbreaking organization with a commitment to fostering musicians’ growth and to the development of new, serious, and creative musics. Importantly, as George Lewis notes, the group used its charter to lay out a set of nine purposes that “reflected serious engagement with social, cultural, and spiritual issues affecting black musicians and their community” (A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music).

In the spirit of these deep commitments to musical and cultural well‐being, this colloquium asks: How might participation in musical improvisation be understood to affect the health – physical, mental, spiritual, and relational – of those who participate in listening to or creating it? An emerging field of exploration and scholarship investigates and asserts the positive effects of arts participation on individual and community well‐being, yet many questions remain. How might we explain the ways in which people are affected by music‐making, at neurological and physical levels, in terms of emotional and interpersonal wellness? And what about when that music is improvised? Are there ways in which the relatively unstructured and open nature of improvised jazz and other music enable and encourage wellness at the personal and group levels? How do improvisational practices resist the erosion of public spaces and the rise of the surveillance state? Can improvisational artists preserve their social and cultural mobility? And what about other forms of improvised creative practice, such as visual art, dance, and theatre? How might we conceptualize and explore the links between improvised creative practices and social, cultural, and environmental health, broadly conceived?

From the roots of improvised jazz as a means to resist, challenge, and survive brutal racism; to the longstanding relationship between folk musics and struggles for social justice; to the clinical practices of art and music therapists – arts and well‐being have long been intertwined. At the 2015 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium, a diverse group of artists, workers, activists, scholars, and other thinkers will come together to reflect upon these connections, and upon the questions above. We will engage in shared experiences and conversations with the intent of learning with and from each other.

The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, in partnership with the Guelph Jazz Festival and the University of Guelph, invites proposals for presentations at our annual three‐day interdisciplinary and multi‐genre conference. The colloquium will take place Sept 16‐18 as part of the 22nd annual Guelph Jazz Festival (Sept 16‐20). Featuring panel discussions, debates, immersive experiences, and dialogues among researchers, artists, and audiences, the colloquium fosters a spirit of collaborative, boundary‐defying inquiry and dialogue and an international exchange of cultural forms and knowledges.

We welcome proposals for paper presentations, panel or roundtable discussions, musical and other creative performances, and experiential offerings such as arts workshops and multi‐media presentations. Please indicate the format of your contribution and any technical or other resources you require. We also invite participants to submit completed versions of their presentations to be considered for publication in our peer‐reviewed journal, Critical Studies in Improvisation/Etudes critiques en improvisation (

Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium 2015
Among the People: Arts, Improvisation, and WellBeing
September 16‐18, 2015
Please send 500 word proposals (for 15 minute delivery – alternate formats will also be considered) and a short bio (maximum 250 words) by March 15th, 2015 to: The Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium, c/o Dr. Elizabeth Jackson,

Improvisation is, simply put, being and living this very moment. No one can hide in music, and improvising in music is to be truly in this very moment and being completely yourself, with all your qualities and faults. It is probably the most honest state for a human being to be in.

– John McLaughlin in an interview with Daniel Fischlin.