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4th Annual KU Interdisciplinary Jazz Studies Colloquium:

"What's Avant-Garde about the Avant-Garde?"

March 30-31, 2007

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Special event! March 30 & 31, 2007! Free and Open to the Public!

"what’s avant-garde about the avant-garde?"

The Fourth Annual

Interdisciplinary Jazz Studies Colloquium

University of Kansas

March 30 and 31, 2007



The fourth annual Interdisciplinary Jazz Studies Colloquium at the University of Kansas takes as its central focus an exploration of "avant garde" as a category of jazz studies. Once a marginalized or outright ignored topic in college and university jazz curricula (if not faculty), since the 1990s the avant-garde acquired a privileged place as a significant site of inquiry in academic jazz studies.  Recent books and articles have explored avant-garde collectives such as the Arkestras of Sun Ra and Horace Tapscott and the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).  Much of this scholarship pushed beyond historical description to raise questions about the political implications of improvisation and dissonance.

On March 30-31, 2007, an exciting group of scholars, musicians, and musician-scholars will gather at University of Kansas in Lawrence to think about what it means to talk about "avant garde" jazz in the present. Looking through a prism of themes related to questions about jazz and "the new" as they are understood today as well as in its historical manifestations, participants will raise questions such as:

Featured speakers:

Fred Ho, composer, performer, author, and activist, and founder of the Afro-Asian Ensemble (1982) will deliver the keynote address, as well as a solo baritone saxophone concert and post-concert dialogue in the evening. For Ho, musical practices are “about the present . . . and the future,” remain “highly and inescapably political” and “must be understood both sociologically and musicologically” (“What Makes ‘Jazz’ the Revolutionary Music of the 20th Century, and Will it be for the 21st Century? African American Review, 1995).   

Kevin Whitehead, jazz critic for NPR's "Fresh Air," author of 1998's New Dutch Swing, and lecturer who teaches jazz-related courses in American Studies and English at the University of Kansas, will deliver a talk based on the viability of the avant-garde as a category.  He has declared that “any label which defines an artistic movement according to its newness. . . inevitably becomes obsolete.” (“Death to ‘the Avant-Garde,’” The Voice, 1994). 

March 30-31, 2007

Friday, March 30, 9 am - 4 pm

Saturday, March 31, 10 am - 2 pm

Alderson Auditorium, University of Kansas


Friday, March 30, 2007, 5:30-6:30 pm

Fred Ho, baritone saxophone, and dialogue with audience,

Spencer Art Museum Auditorium, University of Kansas


All Events are Free and Open to the Public



Sherrie Tucker, American Studies: : sjtucker@ku.edu

Sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, KU Center for Research, Hall Center for the Humanities, and Spencer Museum of Art.


Chuck Berg
Theatre and Film
1530 Naismith Dr, Room 356
Murphy Hall
Lawrence, KS 66045-3102
(785) 864-3511