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Improv Notes: July 2015

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Improv Notes: July 2015
International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation logo.
Improv Notes is a monthly newsletter distributed by the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation.
Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium: Schedule Now Available

The schedule for the 2015 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium, Among the People: Arts, Improvisation, and Well-Being is now available online and  presenter bios and paper abstracts are available here. The colloquium features a stimulating mix of panels, presentations, workshops, and keynote speakers. 

This year's workshops are: Battle Trance, Tony Wilson and a Day's Life Band, and Morning Music. This year's keynote presenters will include Evan Parker and Matana Roberts.

The 2015 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium will take place from September 16-18 in downtown Guelph, and is free to attend. For updates, please stay tuned to the ICASP and GJF websites.
Halifax, NS: Upstream Music

On June 27, the Upstream Music Association presented the performance piece “Diving for Pearls” to celebrate co-founder Paul Cram’s 19 years as director of the Halifax new music collective. Instrumentalists Rick Waychesko, Jeff Reilly, Dawn Hatfield, Tim Crofts, Geordie Haley, Danny Parker, and Douglas Cameron, with Cram himself on saxophone and clarinet, collaborated with vocalists Ann Denny and Mitchell Wiebe, dancer Susanne Chui, and video projections by Lukas Pearse. Cram’s tenure included Upstream performances in Lisbon and Victoriaville, and numerous collaborations within the Halifax community, including Symphony Nova Scotia, and the Open Waters Festival, a January festival of experimental music.
Photo of Paul Cram
Paul Cram
Double bassist Lukas Pearse, who completed a Canadian tour this winter with pianist Tim Crofts, cellist Norman Adams and guest percussionist Gerry Hemingway, will take over as Upstream’s director.

Tim Crofts, Norman Adams, and Lukas Pearse. Photo by Ingrid Bulmer, Chronicle Herald.
KISMIF in Portugal

Keep It Simple, Make It Fast! (KISMIF), Crossing Borders of Underground Music Scenes” took place in Porto, Portugal, July 15-17, welcoming academic researchers working in all areas of sociology, anthropology, history, cultural economics, geography, urban planning, media and cultural studies, and cognate disciplines, including design, illustration, musicology, popular music and visual and performing arts. Keynote speakers included Andy Bennett (Griffith University, Queensland), English writer and broadcaster Dave Laing, Dick Hebdige (Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Birmingham), Mary Fogarty (York University, Toronto), and Matthew Worley (University of Reading).

Keep It Simple, Make It Fast! (KISMIF) is a scientific research project coming from Sociology and having as its goal the analysis of the punk manifestations in Portugal from their origins until today (1977-2012).

Quote of the Month

"Jimi Hendrix came up the stairs and found me sitting there like some hick wallflower and grinned. He had to catch a plane to London to do the Isle of Wight festival. When I told him I was too chicken to go in, he laughed softly and said that contrary to what people might think, he was shy, and parties made him nervous. He spent a little time with me on the stairs and told me his vision of what he wanted to do with the studio. He dreamed of amassing musicians from all over the world in Woodstock and they would sit in a field in a circle and play and play. It didn’t matter what key or tempo or what melody, they would keep on playing through their discordance until they found a common language. Eventually they would record this abstract universal language in his new studio … Jimi never accomplished his dream.”

—Patti Smith, Just Kids (New York: Ecco/Harper Collins, 2010), p. 169.
Jimi  Hendrix

International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation LogoThe International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation
(IICSI) is a partnered research institute building from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) project, “Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice” (ICASP).

The Institute’s research team is comprised of 58 scholars from 20 different institutions. IICSI's partners include six academic institutions (University of Guelph; McGill University; Memorial University of Newfoundland; University of British Columbia; University of Regina; University of California, Santa Barbara), a foundation partner (Musagetes), and over 30 community-based organizations. The Institute's mandate is to create positive social change through the confluence of improvisational arts, innovative scholarship, and collaborative action.
AUMI Research Consortium at McGill Colloquium

The two-day (June 7/8) conference “Improvisation and Community Health / «Improvisation et santé communautaire», sponsored by IICSI, the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy (IHSP), the Société des Arts Libres et Actuels (SALA), and the McGill Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas (IPLAI), began with a focus on the work of the AUMI (Adaptive Use Musical Instrument) Research Consortium. A gathering at the Mackay Centre School brought together researchers from McGill, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (including project founder and director Pauline Oliveros; Jonas Braasch, Thomas Ciufo, Henry Lowengard, and Leaf Miller), Memorial University (Ellen Waterman), University of Kansas (Abbey Dvorak, Elizabeth Boresow,  Michelle Heffner Hayes, and Sherrie Tucker), and Carleton University (Jesse Stewart).

Pauline Oliveros
The AUMI intensive portion of the 2-day conference concluded with a discussion moderated by Jonathan Sterne on the “Future of AUMI.” One theme that everyone agreed on was that the opportunity to meet in person and share research-in-progress cannot be underestimated. While Skype meetings are helpful, they cannot compare to the dialogue enabled by the in-person meetings hosted by Eric Lewis and his team.

In Ottawa, Jesse Stewart works with the AUMI iPad app in schools, community arts organizations of people with disabilities, and the Propeller Dance Company, a mixed-ability dance group; some of his work can be seen in Andrew Hall’s documentary film Turning the Page at H'Art of Ottawa  about a collaboration with H'Art of Ottawa and with Propeller Dance on YouTube.
An Improvised Classical Orchestra
One of the most famous (albeit short) orchestral passages in popular music history was recorded without a score. During the 1960s, the English pop group the Beatles and their producer, George Martin, pioneered techniques of using the capabilities of the recording studio itself to build music. In February 1967, Paul McCartney and Martin came up with this way of filling a 24-bar gap in McCartney and John Lennon’s song “A Day in the Life.” “We’re going to start very very quietly and end up very very loud,” Martin instructed the 40-piece orchestra. “We’re to start very low in pitch and end up very high. You’ve got to make your own way up there, as slide-y as possible so that the clarinets slurp, trombones gliss, violins slide without fingering any notes. And whatever you do, don’t listen to the fellow next to you because I don’t want you to be doing the same thing.” The professional session musicians were initially dumbfounded, but eventually got the hang of it, making four complete takes. These four takes of what was essentially a tightly-controlled improvisation were overdubbed, to construct the enormous sound that helped make “A Day in the Life” a milestone in twentieth-century music, “popular” or otherwise.

"A Day in the Life," with its improvised orchestral crescendo, became the closing track of the Beatles' historic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band.
IICSI People: Gregory Shupak and Paul Watkins
Two former ICASP/IICSI GRAs have recently successfully defended their dissertations: congratulations to Gregory Shupak and Paul Watkins, the newest Ph.D graduates from Guelph’s School of English and Theatre Studies. Dr. Shupak’s dissertation is entitled Literature and Social Change: Writing, Criticism and Teaching in Neoliberal Canada, and Dr. Watkins is the author of Soundin’ Canaan: Music, Resistance, and Citizenship in African Canadian Poetry. Greg Shupak teaches Media Studies at the University of Guelph-Humber and English at Humber College, and writes for Jacobin Magazine, Middle East and a variety of other outlets. Paul Watkins, familiar to our readers as the former editor of Improv Notes, has recently accepted a tenure-track position at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.
Artist of the Month: Nonoko Yoshida
Nonoko Yoshida
Japanese alto saxophonist Nonoko Yoshida recently toured several cities in eastern Canada, performing in Toronto, Hamilton, Montreal and Ottawa. Currently active in the downtown New York improvisation scene, Yoshida plays with Cyro Baptista, Ron Anderson’s PAK with Yoshida Tatsuya (Ruins), as well as her own band Pet Bottle Ningen. In New York, Yoshida has been studying with veteran composer / improviser Ned Rothenberg, and she brings a composer’s sensibility to her delicate interface of background electronics with vigorous solo horn playing. At Suoni Per Il Popolo in Montreal, she opened for Ken Vandermark, who writes, “Nonoko Yoshida … used constructed loops in an advanced way, building compositions instead of vamps to solo over. The room was full of people who displayed much deserved enthusiasm for her set.” In her integration of relaxed lyricism and phrasing, with adventurous playing that uses the full resources of the horn, Nonoko Yoshida has the potential to become a major figure in the network of alternate performance spaces and concert series that are materializing, often in smaller communities, to fulfill a growing interest in alternative performance.
Improv Notes

Improv Notes was initially distributed in 2008 as a quarterly newsletter. From June 2011 until September 2014 Improv Notes was assembled, written, and distributed on a monthly basis by Paul Watkins. As of October 2014, Improv Notes is edited and written by PhD candidate David Lee and assembled by administrative assistant Rachel Collins. If you have anything improvisation related that you would like included in the newsletter, please email us. 

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Listening itself, an improvisative act engaged in by everyone, announces a practice of active engagement with the world, where we sift, interpret, store and forget, in parallel with action and fundamentally articulated with it ("Mobilitas Animi" 113).

– George E. Lewis