Prof. Tony Whyton, 9.11.2016, 19:30, Palais Meran, First Floor, Kleiner Saal

I Want to Talk About You: Understanding the Legacy of John Coltrane


The musical legacy of John Coltrane has had a profound impact on jazz history. And yet, the production of great music can only partially account for his enduring legacy and ongoing value for audiences today. Indeed, Coltrane is arguably the most revered icon in jazz history, inspiring an obsessive following of writers, record collectors and enthusiasts, and generating a wealth of artistic tributes from musical homages to experimental poetry, literature and film.

This presentation examines the changing historiography of John Coltrane, the contradictions bound up with the narration of jazz history more broadly, and the ways in which iconic jazz musicians have been represented posthumously.

This presentation invites us not only to examine why Coltrane is both a compelling and enduring iconic figure, it also encourages us to reflect on our own relationship to jazz artists, exploring the discourses of fandom that surround jazz today.

Tony Whyton is Professor of Jazz Studies at Birmingham City University. His books include Jazz Icons: Heroes, Myths and the Jazz Tradition (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Beyond A Love Supreme: John Coltrane and the Legacy of an Album (Oxford University Press, 2013) and the co-edited collection The Cultural Politics of Jazz Collectives: This Is Our Music (Routledge, 2016) with Nicholas Gebhardt. Whyton’s research works across the boundaries of musicology, media and cultural studies and promotes research as both a knowledge exchange and co-produced activity. In 2015, Whyton was Professor in Residence for the EFG London Jazz Festival and in September 2016 he worked as Creative Director for Humanities Matters, the HERA Joint Research Programme’s international conference. From 2010–2013, he led the Rhythm Changes: Jazz Cultures and European Identities project (www.rhythmchanges.net) and is currently the Project Leader for the JPI Heritage-Plus funded Cultural Heritage and Improvised Music in European Festivals project (www.chimeproject.eu). Whyton is co-editor of Jazz Research Journal (Equinox) and the Routledge series Transnational Studies in Jazz.