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Outside the Empire: Improvised Music in Toronto 1960-1985

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Title: Outside the Empire: Improvised Music in Toronto 1960-1985
Author: Lee, David
Department: School of English and Theatre Studies
Program: Literary Studies / Theatre Studies in English
Advisor: Heble, Ajay
Abstract: OUTSIDE THE EMPIRE: IMPROVISED MUSIC IN TORONTO 1960-1985 David Lee Advisor: University of Guelph, 2017 Professor A. Heble Outside the Empire is an investigation of the improvised music community in Toronto from 1960 to 1985. Chapter One discusses how, beginning in the 1950s, the modernist sensibility of Toronto’s Painters Eleven collective inspired the formation of the Artists’ Jazz Band (AJB) in 1962. Chapter Two hinges upon bassist/pianist Stuart Broomer’s description of Toronto as “a mediated city,” and highlights the problems of sustaining an experimental musical career in English Canada’s music and media centre. Chapter Three discusses Coda Magazine. By framing jazz as a music of innovation and of social resistance, Coda introduced a level of critical discourse that sharply distinguished the magazine and its “scene” from both the typically conservative Toronto jazz community, and the apolitically modernist scene represented by CCMC and The Music Gallery. Chapter Four discusses how the improvising group CCMC founded the Music Gallery, and in doing so reified a specifically nationalized and racialized discourse around its origins. Chapter Five relates the author’s experience of learning to improvise to George Lipsitz’s definition of community learning via an “alternative academy,” to George E. Lewis’ theory of “sociodidacticism,” and to Tricia Rose’s writings on “flow, layering, and rupture.” Chapter Six positions the critical and musical work of Bill Smith between two different models of music history: one that treats musical development as community-based, and another that attributes innovations to a few exceptional individuals. Chapter Seven addresses women improvisers in the Toronto community’s early years. The author uses Michel de Certeau’s definitions of “spaces” versus “places,” and “strategy” versus “tactics.” Chapter Eight, the conclusion, suggests possible future areas for research into a Canadian improvising community in which the motivations of its subjects, the extent of its influence, and the history of its rich interdisciplinary infrastructure have been subject to distortion, appropriation, and erasure. Appendices include interviews with instrumentalists-composers Gayle Young and Diane Roblin, as well as an interview with the late saxophonist, and frequent AJB collaborator, Kenny Baldwin. There is also a discography of Toronto improvisation, and a list of Bill Smith Ensemble performances from the period under discussion.
Date: 2017-06
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
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