National Arts Journalism Program
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tel: 206.322.2938
Live at the Village – Three Panel Discussions

Presented by The National Arts Journalism Program,
in association with the Research Center for Arts and Culture

The Village Vanguard
178 Seventh Ave South
Between 11th St and Waverly Pl

2–6:30 PM, Friday, April 26th

AFTER A CENTURY OF DEVELOPMENT AND MUTATION, jazz--alternately described as "America's classical music" and "America's indigenous music"--has remained one of New York's signature cultural offerings. Yet for all the sold-out engagements, boxed sets and commentary the art form has provoked, much about the working conditions and actual lives of jazz musicians has gone unexplored. As jazz has captured the attention of a wide range of writers and thinkers, it has come to suggest an aesthetic that extends beyond the music itself.

TALKING JAZZ: LIVE AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD, a series of three afternoon panels Friday, April 26, certainly won't be the first time intelligent, informed folks have discussed the music and its context at this venerable West Village club. Since 1935, jazz has been debated at the Vanguard on a nightly basis, either at the bar or in the famed kitchen that now serves as a dressing room. But "Talking Jazz" will be the club's first formal critical conference, and is certain to prompt a chorus of interested debate on issues that surround the community and the aesthetics of jazz.
The April 26 event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 2 p.m. at the Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Avenue So., between 11th Street and Waverly Place. Reservations are recommended. To reserve your seat, please call 212.854.6842 or email

The panels are:
Destination Out (2-3:15 p.m.):
Although ahead of the crowd on most social issues, the jazz subculture--a stronghold of machismo--has been slow to acknowledge the presence of gay musicians. Does being gay make a difference in the jazz world? A panel of musicians who are gay and "out," including Gary Burton, Andy Bey, Fred Hersch and Charlie Kohlhase, discuss their experiences. Moderated by Francis Davis, NAJP senior fellow and contributing editor for Atlantic Monthly.
View transcript

Work Song (3:30-4:45 p.m.):
How do jazz communities actually operate? What, if any, resources and support can the jazzman or woman rely on? Scant research exists to help us answer these questions, but a new study by the Research Center for Arts and Culture, commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts, aims to change that. This extensive survey of musicians in four U.S. cities--New York, New Orleans, San Francisco and Detroit--illuminates the lives, hopes and struggles of jazz artists, deepening our awareness of the jazz life. This panel announces the preliminary findings of America's first in-depth survey of jazz artists. Co-moderated by Joan Jeffri, director of the Research Center for Arts and Culture at Teachers College, Columbia University; and Martin W. Mueller, executive director of the jazz and contemporary music program at New School University. Panelists include Carliner Ray and Vijay Iyer.
View transcript

In All Languages (5 p.m.-6:15 p.m.): Critics for newspapers, magazines and other print-media forms have written mountains about jazz. Discussions of jazz occur more and more within the academy, specifically within the study of the humanities. Yet working critics and teaching scholars don't always speak of jazz in the same language. In this discussion, leading jazz critics and scholars, including Gary Giddins (Village Voice), Ben Ratliff (New York Times), Robin D.G. Kelley (Columbia University) and Krin Gabbard (SUNY/Stony Brook), explore jazz's aesthetic, in search of a common discourse. Moderated by Larry Blumenfeld, NAJP mid-career fellow and editor-at-large for Jazziz.
View transcript

A 6:30 p.m. reception will follow the panel discussions.
The event is co-presented by the National Arts Journalism Program and the Research Center for Arts and Culture. Based at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, the National Arts Journalism Program administers fellowships for journalists in the fields of arts and culture, and serves as a forum for discussion of challenging and timely issues at the crossroads of arts and culture, journalism and public policy. The Research Center for Arts and Culture, at Columbia University's Teachers College, provides data and ideas for applied research, education, advocacy, policy making, and action.

Founded by Max Gordon in 1935, the Village Vanguard became a home for poets and writers, then folk singers, comics and, finally, jazz artists, who earned it the stamp and prestige of the world's most renowned jazz club. Artists as diverse as John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Eartha Kitt, Pearl Bailey, Harry Belafonte and Woody Allen have graced the stage of the Vanguard.

NAJP : Events : Conferences & Symposia : Talking Jazz