Steven Feld: Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra: A Memoir of Five Musical Years in Ghana

Steven Feld's Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra: A Memoir of Five Musical Years in Ghana will be available in February 2012 according to Duke University Press, and can be pre-ordered on Accompanying DVD trilogy and CDs (published by and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings).

Here's a brief review of the project from Steven Feld:

"In October 2004 I made a brief trip to Accra, Ghana, and while there was introduced to a musician and sculptor who immediately asked me where I was from. I told him, “Philadelphia.” Without missing a beat he responded: “Wow! The city of John Coltrane! The man who saved my life!” I was shocked, as I had been quite literally saying the same thing about the great jazz saxophonist for almost 40 years.

In the six years since that fateful encounter with Nii Noi Nortey, I have lived in Accra 4–6 months each year, working variously as a jazz performer, filmmaker, CD producer, and anthropologist, trying to understand what music in a West African modernity says about jazz cosmopolitanism as diasporic intimacy, and, reflexively, what theories of vernacular cosmopolitanism might reveal about African jazz histories—histories remote to the familiar PBS/Ken Burns/Wynton Marsalis American nationalist jazz master narrative. My encounters have led to performance tours with Ghanaian jazz musicians in Ghana, Europe, and the U.S. (including residencies at UNM), as well as ten CDs and three hour-long films about multiply entangled histories, such as connections between jazz masters Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Max Roach, and Accra’s avant-gardes, or how New Orleans jazz funerals are echoed in Accra’s car horn funerals."

Steven Feld, "Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra," University of Mexico Newsletter, Winter 2010.

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