CWRU Colloquium: “What is this Revenant Called Jazz?”

Read a transcript of this presentation HERE

View a PDF of the presentation slideshow HERE

Please join the CWRU Department of Music this Friday, September 9th at 4:00 PM EST in the Harkness Chapel classroom for our first installment in this semester’s Colloquium Series. Our very own AJ Kluth will be presenting a talk entitled What is this Revenant called Jazz?: Nostalgia, Value, and Racialized Listening.” Refreshments to follow. For more about the series, you may click here or utilize the following link,


The idea that “Jazz Is Dead” is having a moment. Yet, something called “jazz” is still among us, if bearing differences between its worlds of practice, pedagogy, and cultural imaginary. Dead or not, whatever this interloper is – whether calling itself “jazz” or being called “jazz” by others – it seems to suffer from an identity disorder. This talk investigates “jazz is dead” as an earnest refusal and declaration of fact from contemporary artists such as Theo Croker, Kassa Overall, and Nicholas Payton who carry on the historical refusal from previous generations. Why, when so many young people studying the music are happy to call it “jazz,” do they continue to take exception to the name? There clearly continues to be an unresolved power dynamic at play, one I here suggest is racialized.

Developing some ideas from T Storm Heter’s book, The Sonic Gaze: Jazz, Whiteness, and Racialized Listening (2022), this talk works to locate a vernacular to better locate and describe how the continued invisibilization and naturalization of raced power dynamics in “jazz”’s expressive practices and cultural products are implicated in the maintenance of an overdetermining Black/White binary in US America. I attempt to work this schema out through short discussions about nostalgia as well as the production of “knowledge” and “value” in the culture of institutional jazz pedagogy.

This project is in-progress and the ideas and questions (re)animating it are far from resolved. Please be in touch if you’d like to talk about it – it’d be great to hear your ideas.

Edit 9/11/22: Video of the talk added below – English CC available

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