Jazz and Visual Style symposium a big success

A day-long symposium pushing the visual culture of jazz into wider consideration proved to be a substantial success.

Jazz and Visual Style took place on Thursday 6 July and was organised by the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research team, with funding provided by the Arts, Design and Media Faculty Research Investment Scheme. The symposium looked to the worlds of photography, fashion, dance, film and television to address the event's question. Co-organised by Birmingham School of Media's Nicolas Pillai and PhD candidate Pedro Cravinho, the day also aimed to broaden the scope of the existing BCMCR jazz research cluster.

Since 2013, the University has created a vibrant community of interdisciplinary jazz researchers, building strong partnerships with broadcasters, festivals and heritage institutions and attracting significant RCUK funding. The symposium was attended by 36 delegates from across the country, as well as visiting academics from Antwerp and Madrid.

The day included a range of presentations, including:

  • A presentation on jazz photography from Dr Alan Ainsworth, who cut through mythological constructions of jazz iconography to unpick the reasons that the images looked the way they did
  • Professor Carol Tulloch discussed her work on the style narratives of jazz, drawing upon her chapter on Billie Holiday in The Birth of Cool: Style Narratives of the African Diaspora, as well as her own exhibition
  • Dr Martha Shearer presented film clips as a way of demonstrating Hollywood musicals' use of jazz

The day ended with a panel in which Nicolas interviewed two television professionals, Fraser Kennedy and Jon Walton, who explained the challenges involved in making the 2015 series Jazz@Metropolis, presenting clips from the show and giving an insight into the studio recording and post-production process. You can watch the trailer for Jazz@Metropolis here.

Plans are now being made for 2019's Jazz Television conference.