Center for Jazz Studies Events: Overview
The national and international prominence achieved by the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University is due in no small part to the events it has hosted, including concerts, lecture series, and conferences, which go far beyond the programming of most important university-based jazz archives. In fact, the Center is one of the most active research units at Columbia in terms of public presentations.
Over the past decade, the Center for Jazz Studies has presented major authors, including:
- Amiri Baraka
- Gerald Early
- David Margolick
The Center has hosted many of the leading musicians of our time:
- Geri Allen
Alicia Hall Moran
Jazz at Lincoln Center
- Rashied Ali
- Dee Dee Bridgewater
Bernice Johnson Reagon
Sir Charles Thompson
These events have reached beyond the borders of music, as with the 2004 symposium, “The World of Romare Bearden,” and even toward the relation between music and public policy, as with the well-attended post-Katrina conference of January 2006, “New Orleans: Rebuilding the Musical City,” with talks by architect David P. Brown, urban planners Jacques Morial and Lionel McIntyre, social activist Chokwe Lumumba, educator Cherice Harrison-Nelson, the Rev. James A. Forbes, Jr., and drummer Herlin Riley, and performances by pianist Allen Toussaint. The events in The Conversations Series have featured leaders in the world of business, philosophy, urban planning, psychology, law, and journalism. The first event in the Series, presented in collaboration with the Columbia University World Leaders Forum, featured two Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Margo Jefferson of the Columbia School of the Arts, and two MacArthur “genius” fellows, Center for Jazz Studies Director George E. Lewis and Columbia Law School professor Patricia Williams.
The Center in the World
Most recently, the Center has responded strongly to President Lee Bollinger’s call for Columbia to become the “global university.” Reaching beyond America’s borders, in September 2007, the Center, with funding from Columbia’s Office of the President, partnered with the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone and Jazzmobile, Inc., to present the Columbia/Harlem Festival of Global Jazz, a ten-day festival based in Harlem, a community where the roots of the music run deep, featuring leading composers, improvisors, journalists and scholars from more than 16 countries in performances, conferences, symposia, film screenings and transnational technology-based community events, all open to the public. The Festival encouraged audiences to experience, in a global context, the manifold meanings of jazz and improvisation, while reaffirming Harlem’s place as a unique and vital international nexus for the exchange of culture and ideas.
A special colloquium with Dr. Billy Taylor, Toshiko Akiyoshi. and Randy Weston opened the festival, and a diverse array of artists, such as Monty Alexander, Edward “Kidd” Jordan, David Murray, Joelle Leandre, Lionel Loueke, Somi, Susie Ibarra, Zim Ngqawana, Steve Coleman, the Globe Unity Orchestra, Cynthia Scott, Shamarr Allen and the Hot 8 Brass Band, and the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra performed to packed houses all around Harlem.
An Internet-based teleperformance brought together students and musicians of the Harlem School of the Arts with their counterparts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
A centerpiece of the 2007 Festival was “Jazz in the Global Imagination,” the first-ever international conference of jazz journalists, brought together to exchange ideas on the globalization of jazz, co-organized with the Jazz Journalists Association. Moderated by Howard Mandel, the evening panel was introduced by June Cross, Professor, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and featured Gwen Ansell (South Africa), Seda Binbasgil (Turkey), Christian Broecking (Germany), Stanley Crouch (USA), Francis Davis (USA), Alain Derbez (Mexico), Alex Dutilh (France), Gary Giddins (USA), Don Heckman (US), Ben Ratliff (USA), Greg Tate (USA), and Kazue Yokoi (Japan).