Skip to Content

ICASP Newsletter July 2011


IMprov Notes:
News of the Moment
July 2011

2011 Guelph Jazz Festival

The Guelph Jazz Festival’s Colloquium opens at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre and runs from September 7th-9th. This is a three-day offering of workshops, lectures and concerts, all of it free, and all of it at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre. Aside from a widerange of exciting talks, interviews, and performances, this year's colloquium features two particularly exciting keynote speakers: Jayne Cortez & Aldon Lynn Nielsen!
Aldon Lynn Nielsen is an American poet, and literary critic, whose critical text, Black Chant: Languages of African-American Postmodernism (1997), provides a poignant reassessment of African American cultural history, by tracing the transformation of black modernisms and postmodernisms by African American avant-garde poets (many whose works combine post-Bop jazz with postmodern verse forms) in the decades after World War II. Currently, Nielsen is the George and Barbara Kelly Professor of American Literature at Pennsylvania State University.
Jayne Cortez
is an American poet, and performance artist, and unsurprisingly—given that her work is highly performative and jazz-infused—is one of the poets explored in Nielsen’s Black Chant. She is the author of ten books of poems and performer of her poetry with music on nine recordings. Her voice is celebrated for its political, surrealistic, dynamic innovations in lyricism, and visceral sound. Cortez has presented her work and ideas at universities, museums, and festivals in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, the Caribbean and the United States
Listen to Cortez perform her poem, “I am New York City”

New to the research collection


Body and Soul: An Interview with Andrew Cyrille conducted by Rob Wallace: Rob Wallace conducts an interview with renowned drummer Andrew Cyrille as part of the 2010 Guelph Jazz Colloquium. They discuss the body in relation to spirituality, drumming, dance, pedagogy, improvisation, sociality, big bands, among other insights and reflections informed by Cyrille's own practice.

Adaptive Use Musical Instruments
Members and collaborators associated with the Deep Listening Institute and the Adaptive Use Musical Instruments Project discuss the origins of the project, its therapeutic value and experiences using the technology working with Abilities First in Poughkeepsie, New York. Also discussed are the research activities conducted through the ICASP project, and the role of improvisation in the project as a whole.

Interview with Bob Ostertag: Scholar, journalist, and improviser Bob Ostertag discusses the relationship between improvisation and electronic musical production, his time spent playing with renowned jazz improviser Anthony Braxton, and Walter Benjamin's insights on art with respect to contemporary forms of digital media distribution.

Interview with Eugene Martynec: Improvising as a Community:
In this interview, musician Eugene Martynec identifies the functionality and ideals of his group, the Toronto Improvisers Orchestra. He explains techniques behind conducted improvisation languages. In addition, he talks about pedagogical devices which uses to direct an improvising 'community-like' orchestra in Canada.

"A Second Standpoint": Howard Becker talks about music, sociology, and their intersections: Howard Becker, in conversation with ICASP's Elizabeth Jackson, discusses ideas in collaborative music, such as leadership and power differentials, and the various roads leading to "ordinary" musicianship and its payoff. Further, Becker provides his thoughts about what makes for good collaboration, as well as the value of the outsider perspective.

Improv Notes was initially distributed in 2008 as a quarterly newsletter. The ICASP team is happy to announce that the newsletter is back in action and will be distributed once a month. If you have anything improvisation related that you would like to have included in the newsletter, please send an email to:


The international Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice research project explores musical improvisation as a model for social change. The project plays a leading role in defining a new field of interdisciplinary research to shape political, cultural, and ethical dialogue and action.

This Month's Featured Artist:
Henry Threadgill

To listen to Henry Threadgill is to encounter a radical imagination that, with both the force and the subtlety of its utterance, proposes new ways of listening.  The harmonies and rhythms swirl, diverge, and coalesce in ways that are mysterious, and yet are just right. The quirky mix of timbres is masterfully deployed in ways that defy stylistic categories. The improvisations are fierce and poignant, yet underline that this is a composer's music foremost. Threadgill has pursued his singular vision for decades, and in recent years it has taken on a particularly sharp focus; Threadgill's Zooid is one of the great bands of today's creative music. Henry Threadgill's Zooid (Henry Threadgill, woodwinds; Liberty Ellman, guitar; Jose Davila, tuba and trombone; Stomu Takeishi, bass guitar; Elliot Humberto Kavee, drums) will be performing at this years Guelph Jazz Festival as the second act of a doulble-bill with The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble: an exciting ensemble consisting of eight brothers, all playing brass instruments,absorbing the gamut of popular music, including hip-hop, funk, and R&B.

Click the below link to read more about Threadgill and to listen to some of his remarkably groundbreaking and exciting music:

Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation  special on “Brazilian Improvisations” is now out

Vol 7, No 1 (2011)
From sports to politics, from architecture to economics, from the arts to pedagogy, the social and cultural spheres of Brazil have often been characterized as having decidedly improvisative valences.

Critical Studies in Improvisation/ Études critiques en improvisation is an open-access, peer-reviewed, electronic, academic journal on improvisation, community, and social practice housed at the University of Guelph. The editorial and advisory boards are made up of leading international scholars spanning diverse disciplines.

Take a look at the current, exciting special issue on Brazilian improvisation: Critical Studies in Improvisation.

Upcoming Conferences
                 & Call for Papers

There is a slew of jazz/improvisation conferences coming up in the near future, including:

Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium 2011

University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
September 7-9, 2011

Sound Practices: Improvisation, Representation, and Intermediality

This year's colloquium will take place September 7th to 9th as part of the 18th annual Guelph Jazz Festival (September 7-11). 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.
Call for Papers: UBC Colloquium 2011

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | October 20 to 22, 2011

Shift, Mix, Blur: Improvising Across Boundaries

The Improvisation, Community and Social Practice research initiative ( invites proposals for presentations at its fourth Vancouver colloquium, “Shift, Mix, Blur: Improvising Across Boundaries,” which will take place on October 20 to 22, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  At this colloquium, we invite researchers, students, and artists to investigate how improvisational practices are structured and how meaning arises and is exchanged through improvisation. How does improvisation facilitate global and transcultural conversations? How are diverse identities, cultures, and viewpoints brought together through improvisational theatre, music making, dance, visual art and literary performance? How do artistic and social practices get transformed as they encounter, test and move across limits and boundaries? What tactics and strategies do improvisers in various contexts employ, and to what ends? How are such conversations both enabled and resisted through improvising?

Please submit proposals of no more than 500 words — finished presentations and papers should conform to a 20-minute delivery — by July 31, 2011 to Dr. Kevin McNeilly, or to Dr. Julie Smith,

Notification of acceptances will be given by August 15, 2011.
Improvisation and History Colloquium 2011

University of California, Riverside
November 14, 2011
8:30 am - 10:00 pm

Improvisation and History

In this one-day colloquium plenary speakers Trinh T. Minh-ha and George Lewis join keynote speaker Danielle Goldman and panelists Sherrie Tucker, Pauline Oliveros, Deborah Wong, Anthea Kraut, Jayna Brown, and Tracy McMullen to engage with the following question: What is the relationship of improvisation to history and the past?

This colloquium is free and open to the public

Sponsored by the "Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice" Research Initiative and the UCR "Center for Ideas and Society"

Contact Tracy McMullen for more information at


Follow us on our facebook page

We’ll all be more innovative if we participate in collaborative webs and share more openly. Creativity is always a collaboration and it’s always a form of improvisation, written large in the social world.

– Keith Sawyer