My current project focuses on historical recreation in jazz and popular music, particularly in how it impacts a performer’s creative agency. I aim to investigate how historical repertoire is used to reflect specific societal, cultural, and musical changes from the perspective of the performer, with a particular focus on cultural values such as (self-)identity, authenticity, and tradition. This will be done through a multimodal analysis of historically informed performances of repertoire by two of the most influential and historicized artists in popular music, composer and big band leader Duke Ellington (1899–1974) and the Beatles (1962–1970). The research’s interdisciplinary approach is designed to engage multiple perspectives (historical, artistic), levels (aural, visual, written), and stakeholders (professionals, students, amateurs). While this research is ongoing, I have thus far written and presented on a recreated historical recording session of Ellington (an experimental session with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra and myself on string bass), and on Beatles tribute bands, in particular the Analogues.
In 2018, I defended my Ph.D., resulting in a dissertation that I am currently transforming into a book on the life and music of Jimmie Blanton. In the meantime, you can satisfy your interest in Blanton, Duke Ellington, and 1930s and 1940s jazz bass playing by visiting my blog on Blanton, Pitter Panther Chatter.
For my postdoctoral fellowship for the Research Foundation – Flanders at the University of Antwerp (2019–21), I examined how cultural values are being (re)produced and mediated in international jazz competitions. You can find the project’s mission and output on the jazz competitions page.
Finally, I have a profound interest in Belgian jazz history. Although Belgium is a tiny country, its jazz history, which dates back to ca. 1920, is vibrant and multi-faceted, worthy of further academic scrutiny. Thus far, I have looked at certain key events and people of the Interwar period, such as Félix-Robert Faecq, the Jazz Club de Belgique, and the series of jazz competitions they organised since 1932. Some of my writing is available in my publication list, but more will appear in the future in Walter van de Leur’s Oxford History of Jazz in Europe, for which I have been commissioned to write the chapters covering Belgium.
Selective list of publications:
"The role and function of jazz competitions in Belgium, 1932–39," Popular Music 39/3-4 (2020)
"Composing the jazz bass revolution : Duke Ellington's writing for the string bass, 1925-1941," Jazz Perspectives 11/3 (2018)
"And I think to myself what a wonderful world : in search of Louis Armstrong's Brussels collage," Jazz Research Journal 11/2 (2017)
"Silent Revolutions: An Exploration of 1941, Jimmie Blanton’s 'Forgotten' Year," Jazz Research Journal 9/2 (2015)
"Music (1924–1939): A History of Belgium’s First Jazz Journal," Current Research in Jazz 7 (2015)
"Of Icons and Iconography: Seeing Jimmie Blanton," Journal of Jazz Studies 10/2 (2014)
Selective list of presentations:
"Valuing the virtual: The Belgian JAZZ Discography as online collection" (with Heidi Moyson) at the 2nd Documenting Jazz conference (2020, Birmingham)
"'For Horses, Not For Artists': Meaning and Value in International Jazz Contests" at the Jazz Education Network conference (2020, New Orleans)
"Recreating Abbey Road: Historically Informed Performance in The Analogues" at the 'Abbey Road at 50' conference (2019, Rochester)
"Recreating Duke Ellington: HIP in jazz and popular music" at the EPARM - AEC conference (2019, Cluj-Napoca)
"Plucked Again: Ellington's Bassists and the Mediation of Technology" at the 25th International Duke Ellington Study Group Conference (2018, Birmingham)
"The Lost Tradition: Revisiting Early Jazz Bass Playing" at the Jazz Education Network conference (2017, New Orleans)
“'And the Winner is…': The Role of the Jazz Contest in Interbellum Belgium" at the 3rd Rhythm Changes conference (2014, Amsterdam)