Dr. José Dias (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK), 23.3.2017, 18:00, Palais Meran, First Floor, Kleiner Saal

New Approaches to Ethnographic Jazz Research


In the mid-20th century, ethnography for jazz research was mainly driven by the sociological mapping of marginal social groups. However, by the turn of the century, jazz researchers had begun taking on a new key role – that of knowledge transfer between academia and music scene protagonists. Advocacy, a concept hotly debated among ethnomusicologists in the 1990s, fuelled a growing need for publications and helped to foster the acceptance of jazz studies as a field of research.

In recent years, the New Jazz Studies movement has been motivated by the desire to produce collaborative knowledge, challenging established discourses on jazz and the boundary between practitioner and researcher. Jazz musicians, educators, and promoters are increasingly engaging in academic research; observational and participative roles often overlap in the same individual as part of the process of critical thinking about music.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this trend is the growing frequency of collaborations between researchers and music festivals. In some cases, this has led to the emergence of national jazz associations, a variety of publications (such as reports, monographs, and documentaries), and the enhancement of both local and international networking. The present moment urges an evaluation of the role of academics in music festivals: how should academia approach “grey areas” within the festival social structure, such as those existing between compromise and friction, activeness and passivity, and meritocracy and hierarchy?

José Dias is Senior Lecturer in Music at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has developed research on European jazz networks, exploring the relationships between jazz practices, cultural identity and cultural policies. From his research experience, Dias has been appointed delegate for the 12 Points European Jazz Festival (Dublin), and Festa do Jazz (Lisbon). He has authored and co-authored several articles and book chapters on European jazz peripheralities, jazz networking, jazz in film, and music education. José Dias is also a composer and guitarist, who has worked with such well-known musicians as David Murray, and now performs mainly with his Manchester-based trio. In 2013 he released two albums: 360 and Magenta (Sintoma Records); in 2015 he recorded his third album What Could Have Been: The Seven Deadly Sins (Sintoma Records, 2016).