Since January 2012 I’ve curated an Oral Histories Special Project for the Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice Project. The ICASP project plays a leading role in defining a new field of interdisciplinary inquiry in Improvisation Studies. The project’s core hypothesis is that musical improvisation is a crucial model for political, cultural, and ethical dialogue and action.
Oral Histories is a showcase of interviews, performances, and articles by and about improvising musicians, artists, writers, and scholars. This 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. Back in 2012, I wrote a short reflective piece on the idea behind the project, musing on the relationship between orality and improvised musical practices. That short reflection can be found here.
The project has also been useful for my PhD thesis, Soundin’ Canaan: Music, Resistance, and Citizenship in African Canadian Poetry, since the thesis contains audio/visual interviews (many archived under the Oral Histories project) with several poets explored in the thesis (including M. NourbeSe Philip, George Elliott Clarke, Cecil Foster, d’bi.young, Wayde Compton, and others). Future Oral Histories will include the legendary South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, the late Amiri Baraka in conversation with William Parker, and more!
View Past Oral Histories below:
- 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
- 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
- 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
Featured photo of Paul Watkins in conversation with d’bi.young.