Research Colloquium: The Impact of Jazz in Britain

Catherine Tackley (University of Liverpool) will present a paper on the impact of Jazz in Britain.

This paper discusses the impact of jazz in Britain in the interwar period. Firstly, I look specifically at the musical response by considering the output of the dance bands that emerged in Britain alongside, and in response to, the worldwide dissemination of jazz and other styles of American popular music from the second decade of the twentieth century. I focus on British recordings of ‘Tiger Rag’, a number that originated in New Orleans and was adopted by numerous British performers from dance band leaders to traditional jazz revivalists. Recordings of ‘Tiger Rag’ specifically fuelled the development of the Rhythm Clubs that played a vital role in sustaining jazz performance and provided fodder for the growth of jazz criticism in Britain. In the second part of the paper, I’ll explore how the inclusion of jazz within British music and culture influenced artists and ‘ordinary’ people at this time. What meaning did jazz have for people, from both aesthetic and practical points of view? In what ways did jazz permeate everyday life? This paper will explore different manifestations of jazz to evaluate the impact of genre outside the confines of the emergent ‘jazz community’ in the interwar period.

Bio: Catherine Tackley (née Parsonage) is Head of the Department of Music at the University of Liverpool. A jazz specialist, she has written two books – ‘The Evolution of Jazz in Britain: c. 1880-1935’ (Ashgate, 2005) and ‘Benny Goodman’s Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert’ (OUP, 2012) - and co-edited ‘Black British Jazz: Routes, Ownership and Performance’ (Ashgate, 2014). In 2018, Catherine curated ‘Rhythm and Reaction: The Age of Jazz in Britain’, an acclaimed exhibition in London based on her research. From 2012 to 2014 she was Principal Investigator of the AHRC Research Networking project ‘Atlantic Sounds: Ships and Sailortowns’, and continues to develop work on music and seafaring. Catherine is a co-editor of the ‘Jazz Research Journal’ (Equinox). She is Musical Director of Dr Jazz and the Cheshire Cats Big Band.