The Cultural Politics of Jazz Collectives

New book chapter on live jazz in Birmingham

By Simon Barber on March 12, 2015 — 1 min read

The Cultural Politics of Jazz Collectives, a new book from Routledge, features a chapter that I wrote with Professor Tim Wall entitled ‘Collective Cultures and Live Jazz in Birmingham’.


This chapter examines the conditions under which live jazz is created by musicians, promoters and audiences in a major UK city. In particular we highlight the way in which jazz collectives have become a notable organising principle through which young contemporary jazz musicians have created a self-sustaining scene, and we locate this activity within the range of jazz venues and other distinct, but overlapping, scenes within the city.

Through a political economic and cultural analysis of these local jazz scenes we contrast the way that public sector, commercial and collective organisations relate to venues to create performance opportunities, sustain production cultures and negotiate their relationships with the music industries. Based on an analysis of a wide range of venues in Birmingham, and a series of interviews with jazz musicians and promoters, this research finds that the ways that these musicians engage with jazz’s past in the present, the semiotic use of collective organisation, and the relationship of jazz collectives to educational programmes in these locales are all important in understanding contemporary collective live jazz practice.

You can order a copy of the book at Amazon.

Posted in: Academia

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