I believe in a strong connection between research (theory), practice (performance and compositon), and teaching. A cursory glance at the history of American and African American experimental music(s) illustrates that these three threads have acted in dialogic synchronicity for much, if not all, of their histories. I have taken this understanding to heart; my life as a performer and composer fuels the creative theorizing that I develop in my scholarship and my academic research provokes important directions in my musical activities.
Broadly speaking, my work questions the relationship between experimentalism and cultural/social identity and focuses on American, African American, and African diasporic music. Although rooted in musicology, ethnomusicology, and popular music studies, I have deeply interdisciplinary interests; my work draws on cultural studies, race theory, gender studies, and new trends in postocolonialism. Most of my work fits snugly within the emerging field of improvised music studies.
Large-scale research projects
(Re)Sounding the African Diaspora: Transnationalism, Experimentalism, and Improvisation
An ongoing ethnographic and historiographic project that examines "transdiasporic" collaboration within the African diaspora. I am developing a nuanced definition of "transnationalism" that moves beyond immigration-based accounts of transnationalism. By focusing on musician accounts of the importance of diaspora in their work, I strive to show that creative articulations of global interconnectedness underwrite some of the most intriguing experimental musics found in the fabric of globalization. The project is designed to produce a book-length manuscript.
Dubbing the Reggae Nation: Transnationalism, Globalization, and Interculturalism
Drawing upon my experience within the global reggae community, I use the concept of the "reggae nation" to propose a new theoretical framework for transnationalism. The reggae nation is a common concept within reggae communities around the world. For more than five years, I have conducted interviews with reggae musicians, producers, and listeners in the hopes of understanding new cultural configurations that strategically seek to transcend political nation-state boundaries. This project is also designed to produce a book-length manuscript.
Articles in progress
Ambivalence and the Blues: William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony
Black Los Angeles Redefined: Horace Tapscott and the Freestyle Fellowship
Space, Race, and Transcending Place: Sun Ra, Afrofuturism, and Black Nationalism
The Challenge of the Changing Same: The Jazz Avant-Garde of the 1960s, the Black Aesthetic and the Black Arts Movement. Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation 1:2 (May 2005). Weblink
Race Music: Black Cultures From Bebop to Hip-hop, by Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation 2:1 (2006). Weblink
Freedom Is, Freedom Ain’t: Jazz and the Making of the Sixties, by Scott Saul. Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation 1:2 (2005). Weblink
The Other Side of Nowhere: Jazz, Improvisation and Communities in Dialogue, edited by Daniel Fischlin and Ajay Heble. Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation 1:1 (2004). Weblink
Freestyle: the Art of Rhyme, directed by Kevin Fitzgerald. Ethnomusicology 50:3 (Fall 2006)
"Bebop" and "Hardbop" for the Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. Under contract. Continuum.
“Cootie Williams” for the Encyclopedia of the Blues. Edward Komara, ed. New York: Routledge, 2006.