Catherine Tackley and Tony Whyton

Welcome to the latest issue of the Jazz Research Journal. As ever, the three main articles featured here push the boundaries of jazz historiography and scholarship. In different ways, each addresses an area of jazz practice (simply put, revivalism, bass playing and jazz festivals) which, although central, still demand academic scrutiny and debate. The authors demonstrate not only the importance of plugging the gaps in our knowledge of jazz but also, perhaps more importantly, reflect on the implications of this new knowledge for our wider understanding of the development of the genre, its dissemination and significance. Richard Ekins takes the work of Kid Thomas Valentine as his subject in an article which offers new perspectives on the construction of authenticity in revivalist jazz. Matthias Heyman considers Ellington bass player Jimmie Blanton, arguing that the previously neglected output of the last year of his life and career has much to offer in terms of understanding his contribution to Ellington and the development of jazz bass playing more broadly.

Music festivals have received increasing attention by academics in recent times, and jazz festivals are no exception. From the familiar controversies surrounding events such as the 1969 Newport Jazz festival, explored by Matt Brennan in the very first issue of JRJ (2007), to the cancellation of the Nice Jazz Festival, the longest established in Europe, following the terrorist attack on the Promenade des Anglais on Bastille Day 2016 (see McKay 2016), jazz festivals exemplify in a particularly intense way the relationship between the genre and its (multiple) publics. Both examples demonstrate that although festivals create their own temporary ‘worlds’, ‘real world’ politics are rarely far away. Finally in this issue, Emma Webster and George McKay present an overview of the writing on this important subject as a discursive complement to an online bibliography emerging from their AHRC-funded project on the impact of festivals. This provides an important resource for ongoing work on jazz festivals, historically and in the present.

In addition to the usual articles and reviews, in this issue we are launching a new section of the journal, ‘Extended Play’, presided over by Professor Nicholas Gebhardt. ‘Extended Play’ departs from standard academic jazz scholarship in favour of a more experimental or creative approach to language and form. We are interested in writing that addresses relationships between jazz and language not solely as a topic but through a focus on the act of writing itself. We encourage innovative uses of language, graphics, or the materiality of text and page that facilitate novel ways of conceptualizing jazz. We will also feature writing on jazz that might be out of place in other publications, such as fragmentary pieces, poetry, photographic essays, personal reflections, polemics or experimental biography.

We are delighted to be publishing a piece by Paul Johanis as the first contribution in this new section. This is something of a detective story around one remarkable guitar, which provides a unique perspective on jazz history. We welcome submissions for ‘Extended Play’—as well as more conventional articles and reviews. As ever, we are keen to make accessible important jazz and jazz-related research and resources to allow these to inform the exciting work on the subject which continues to progress apace across the world.


Brennan, Matt (2007) ‘Failure to Fuse: The Jazz-Rock Culture War at the 1969 Newport Jazz Festival’. Jazz Research Journal 1/1: 73–98.

McKay, George (2016) ‘Nice Jazz Festival 2016’. (accessed 22 July 2016).