Jazz Performance, Jazz Education, Applied Jazz Research

presenters: Kurt Ellenberger, Wouter Turkenburg

In the last decennia, Jazz research has seen strong growth. The new bachelor, master, and doctoral structures at music academies, conservatories and music universities in Europe since 2003, have given an important impetus to the growth of jazz research. Not only have the number of researchers and research projects grown, the entire field of jazz research and sheer number of topics has expanded greatly all over the world.

At first, jazz research was an extension of jazz theory and to some extend jazz pedagogy. In many cases the analysis of transcriptions of recorded jazz performance was at the basis of analysis in order to describe and discover certain tendencies and structures. Also, various ways of teaching jazz improvisation, repertoire and history were at the basis of jazz research. This kind of ‘practice based’ or ‘applied’ research still takes place at a large scale but has been augmented by research from disciplines outside the musical practice, like gender studies, ethnography, sociology, psychology, philosophy and even metaphysics. In these other, non-arts disciplines, in many cases one or more axioma’s, theories and viewpoints are combined with each other and applied to jazz and jazz history. While interesting and relevant in their own sphere, these investigations rarely engage with the music qua music; instead, they provide arguments in support of their own theoretical dialectics, in which the actual music of jazz plays an ancillary or supporting role.

At its best, the focus of non-musical disciplines on the jazz performance practice leads to interesting insights and unexpected viewpoints. Very seldom, however, does it lead to insights of great value for the jazz performance practice. At its worst, the results of the focus of non-musical disciplines lead to far-fetched or nonsensical conclusions that are delivered with a great deal of disciplinary jargon that is untethered from any meaningful application in the real world.

For the purposes of the IASJ, we suggest that meaningful, cohesive, coherent, and thus useful jazz research, which we will call “applied jazz research,” is valid only when it flows from, and is linked to, a deep understanding of jazz performance practice and jazz pedagogy. When jazz performance, jazz pedagogy and jazz research are interlinked and grounded in the actual practice of jazz as a performance art, then we can expect insightful observations to emerge, with evidence-based valid conclusions as the result. In this way, the resultant research will help to further the music and its practice by providing support that is relevant to the music’s practitioners.

Kurt Ellenberger
Wouter Turkenburg
21 May 2019

IASJ Mission Fulfillment Statement

The International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) is the world-wide platform for jazz performance, jazz education and jazz research. The IASJ fulfills its mission in the following ways:
i) Organize regular member meetings throughout the world that provide members with a rich array of performance opportunities, teaching opportunities, and opportunities to share research and scholarship in performance practice, jazz pedagogy, and curriculum development at all levels of education.
ii) Publish a IASJ Jazz Research Journal (proposed) with a focus on applied jazz research.
iii) Create a world-wide network that actively supports the work of jazz performers, jazz educators and jazz researchers interested in each other’s works and activities.