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Oral Histories

Saxophonist Matana Roberts in conversation with ICASP Researcher Eric Lewis.

Oral Histories is a showcase of interviews, performances, and articles by and about improvising musicians, artists, writers and scholars. This new monthly feature offers an intimate look inside the minds and practices of some of the many dynamic, innovative people whose energy and ideas make improvisation studies such a vibrant field of inquiry. The Oral Histories project provides a space for improvising artists to be heard in their own words, often in dialogue with other improvisers, scholars and practitioners.

In 2012 we heard Oral Histories from Jane Bunnett, Patricia Nicholson Parker and William Parker, Matana Roberts, Cecil Foster, Tracey Nicholls, George Elliott Clarke, and Bob Ostertag. 2013 has already brought exciting interviews with Andrew Cyrille, Wasanti Paranjape, Dave Clark, Eugene Martynec, and Miya Masaoka. Over the coming year, witness additional conversations with musicians including Tanya Tagaq, William Parker and Amiri Baraka, d'bi young, Wayde Compton, and scholars from fields as diverse as legal studies and musicology. The conversations and performances of this diverse group, drawn from ICASP’s online Research Collection in Improvisation Studies, are sure to inspire and to enlighten.

Read ICASP student Paul Watkins' reflective piece on the relationship between orality and improvised musical practices in our Research Collection, here.

View Monthly Oral Histories Features


  • January 2014: Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, and Roscoe Mitchelle
  • February 2014: Fresh Kils
  • March 2014: Wayde Compton
  • April 2014: d'bi.young antiafrika
  • May 2014: Roger Dean, Tracey Nicholls, and Rebecca Caines
  • June 2014: Linda Hutcheon
  • August 2014: Dong-Won Kim
  • September 2014: William Parker and Amiri Baraka
  • Forthcoming October 2014: Ben Grossman
  • Forthcoming November 2014: David Lee
  • 2013

  • January 2013: Andrew Cyrille
  • March 2013: Wasanti Paranjape
  • April 2013: Dave Clark
  • June 2013: Eugene Martynec
  • July 2013: Miya Masaoka
  • August 2013: Brad Muirhead
  • October 2013: Tanya Tagaq
  • November 2013: Thomas King
  • 2012

  • January 2012: Jane Bunnett
  • February 2012: Patricia Nicholson and William Parker
  • March 2012: Matana Roberts
  • June 2012: Cecil Foster
  • August 2012: Tracey Nicholls
  • September 2012: George Elliott Clarke
  • November 2012: Bob Ostertag
  • Improvisation is a human right

    – Muhal Richard Abrams