UWTSD Professor Jen Wilson, founder of Jazz Heritage Wales, attends Documenting Jazz 2019


UWTSD Professor of Practice Jen Wilson, the founder of Jazz Heritage Wales, was amongst those attending Documenting Jazz, which took place from 17-19 January 2019 and shone a spotlight on Irish jazz and Irish jazz studies.

The conference brought the international jazz studies community to Dublin, hosted important jazz archive meetings, including an Irish Jazz Archive roundtable, and raised the academic profile of TU Dublin, Conservatory of Music and Drama and its jazz programme.

Professor Wilson, who attended the event with Deborah Checkland, also from Jazz Heritage Wales, said: “This is exactly the topic for the new University of Wales Press publication Freedom Music: Wales, Emancipation and Jazz 1850-1950 to be published in May 2019.  It was fascinating to hear the wealth of academic and innovative research papers from delegates from all over Europe, Scandinavia, the USA, Japan and Russia - from the people who look after their countries historic collections. It transpired that Jazz Heritage Wales was the first archive to be set up in 1986. We look forward to attending Documenting Jazz 2, which is to be held in Birmingham University in 2020.”

The conference presented 2 keynote speeches, 67 papers, a poster exhibition, 2 research posters, a closing concert and a conference dinner. It was also represented by the following archives:

Siena Jazz Archive, National Jazz Archive (Britain), Scottish Jazz Archive, The Louis Armstrong House (New York), Russian Jazz Archive, Jazz Heritage Wales, The San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation Collection at Stanford University, Norwegian National Library – Jazz division, Jazz collections of the libraries and the archives of the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna.

Leading scholars from the field of jazz studies were present including keynote speakers Krin Gabbard and Gabriel Solis, Professors Catherine Tackley, Tim Hall, Nicholas Gebhardt, and Dana Gooley. Prominent authors Stephanie Crease and John Gennari presented papers and the editor and series editor of The History of European Jazz (Equinox Publishing, 2018), Francesco Martinelli and Alyn Shipton were in attendance.

Such was the success that Documenting Jazz will continue in the form of a conference in January 2020 at Birmingham City University, one of the world’s leading Jazz research centres.

Professor Wilson, a jazz pianist and historian, and retired auxiliary nurse and university lecturer, started Jazz Heritage Wales in 1986. Through her passion and enthusiasm the charity has grown into a valuable historic and educational resource chronicling the role women have played in the development of jazz music across decades. The archive has now been incorporated into UWTSD Swansea with Dame Cleo Laine as Patron.

Professor Wilson has always been interested in jazz music and performs regularly in the clubs and pubs of Wales as a jazz pianist. In 2015 she was awarded a Point of Light for her work archiving the history of jazz in Wales. The project chronicles the role women have played in the development of jazz music across the decades.

She also founded the all women Allstars Swing Band, Swansea’s only all-female big band since the Second World War. The band, with a pool of 25 members, performs at events across Wales creating inspirational female role models for young female jazz musicians to admire.

Jazz Heritage Wales is dedicated to four areas of activity: performance, archive, research and education. The Women in Jazz Allstars swing band is linked to the group and regularly performs at events in Swansea and further afield.

Professor Wilson was made a Professor of Practice at UWTSD during the University’s Swansea graduation ceremonies in June 2017.

The title of ‘Honorary Professor of Practice’ is bestowed upon an individual to honour and recognise that person for having attained academic and/or professional distinction in those disciplines which are aligned with the strategic intentions of the University.

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