Conversations on Improvisation:
Public Research and Exploration
The Conversations Series, an initiative of the Center for Jazz Studies undertaken with support from the Ford Foundation, aims to explore the role of improvisation in the widest array of fields and practices, in a format designed to be as intimate and inviting as possible. The guiding premise of the series is that the study of improvisation can present not only a new animating paradigm for scholarly inquiry in the humanities, the arts, and the social, political, and even natural sciences, but also a set of trenchant models for political, cultural, and ethical dialogue and action that can foster community building across national and cultural boundaries.
Guest speakers and co-conversationalists are not selected for their knowledge of or histories with the field of jazz. Rather, we at the Center would like to learn from experts in many fields about improvisation, a practice that subsumes jazz and many other musical and non-musical areas of endeavor. Rather than a conventional panel discussion, featured speakers are invited to prepare a short reflection on the role of improvisation in their field(s). This reflection is followed by an open-ended conversation to which the public also contributes.
This research proceeds from the premise that because improvisation demands shared responsibility for participation in community, an ability to negotiate difference, and a willingness to accept the challenges of risk and contingency, in an era when diverse peoples struggle to forge new forms of affiliation across cultural divides, improvisative practice takes on a particular urgency that new research must address.
This socially responsible view provides the basis for our Conversations. We look to these discussions as encouraging an interdisciplinary expansion of the intellectual conversation surrounding jazz, and especially its lifeblood practice, improvisation, as a means toward developing new knowledge that illuminates the human condition.
Ethics: A Conversation
Thursday, November 13, 2008, 7:30 pm
Frank Altschul Auditorium (417 International Affairs Building)
420 W. 118th Street, Columbia University Morningside Campus
A panel of philosophers considers the ethics of improvised conduct.
Arnold Davidson, University of Chicago and University of Pisa; Eric Lewis, McGill University; Lydia Goehr, Columbia University; Bernard Gendron, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Lorenzo Simpson, Stony Brook University.
Introduced and moderated by Carol Rovane, Chair, Department of Philosophy, Columbia University.
New Directions in
Jazz Studies: A Conversation
Friday, September 26, 2008, 4 pm
620 Dodge Hall, Columbia University Morningside Campus
Sherrie Tucker, University of Kansas; Jason Stanyek, New York University.
Free and open to the public
Co-sponsored by the Department of Music and the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University
Improvisation in the Contemporary Arts: A Conversation
Tuesday, May 6, 2008, 6:30 pm
Fisher Landau Center For Art
38-27 30th Street
Long Island City, New York
This conversation featured three leading artists in an examination of the role of improvisation in cross-disciplinary artmaking: Arthur Jafa, visual artist and filmmaker; Marina Rosenfeld, composer and sound artist; Amy Sillman, painter. Moderated by George E. Lewis, Case Professor of American Music, Columbia University.
Co-presented by The Center for Jazz Studies and the Columbia University School of the Arts
Improvisation, Innovation, Leadership: A Conversation
Friday, April 18, 2008, 7:30 pm
Lecture Hall, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University
2950 Broadway (at 116th Street)
Five leading experts in the field of business participated in a lively discussion about improvisation and its potential impact on the development of new models of organization and leadership: R. Keith Sawyer (Washington University), psychologist, author of Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration; Flores A. Forbes, urban developer and veteran of the social justice movement; author of Will You Die With Me? My Life and the Black Panther Party; Sheena S. Iyengar (Columbia Business School), expert on the psychology of choice; Damon J. Phillips (University of Chicago Graduate School of Business), expert on labor markets and entrepreneurship who incorporates histories of the jazz industry in his analyses. Moderated by Paul Ingram, Kravis Professor of Business, Columbia Business School
Co-presented by the Center for Jazz Studies and Columbia Business School
Improvisation in Everyday Life: A Conversation
Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 7:30 pm
The Rotunda, Low Memorial Library, Columbia University
116th Street betw. Broadway and Amsterdam Avenues
With Yusef Komunyakaa, Professor and Distinguished Senior Poet at New York University; Margo Jefferson, Professor, Columbia University School of the Arts; Patricia J. Williams, Professor of Law, Columbia University. Muhal Richard Abrams, Co-Founder, Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Moderated by George E. Lewis, Case Professor of American Music, Columbia University
Co-sponsored by Columbia
University’s World Leaders Forum and
The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University