Jazz on BBC-TV 1960-1969

Lead Research Organisation: Birmingham City University
Department Name: ADM Birmingham Sch of Media


This project is about the interaction between jazz music and television. It aims to reevaluate the place of television within the humanities and develop new methods of analyzing these texts. There are three strands to the research: archival, interview and production/performance. The archival research will determine the range of jazz performance in BBC music, documentary and variety programming. The interview research will record anecdotal evidence from BBC production crew, archivists and musicians. The production/performance research will generate a 30-minute jazz TV sequence, using contemporary musicians and digital equipment to investigate collaborative creative labour in the environment of the television studio. Together, these three research strands will constitute the most comprehensive study of jazz on television in Britain.

The project aims to answer three research questions:

1. How did the BBC's institutional and television production practices of the 1960s interpret and mediate the cultural meanings of jazz for its audience?
2. What influence did these practices exert upon subsequent generations of television producers and jazz musicians?
3. How can the collaborative work of improvising musicians and television production crews within studio recordings be theorized?

The research will be conducted within the emerging jazz research cluster at the School of Media, Birmingham City University. This group of researchers and musicians will act as a nucleus for the project's Jazz and the Media network which will encourage collaborative research in the field. The scope of the network will be international and will provide public information on audiovisual jazz archives. The Principal Investigator's outputs will be produced in collaboration with BFI Southbank, The British Library Sound Archive, Jazzlines Town Hall Symphony Hall, Flatpack Film Festival and the Birmingham Conservatoire of Music. By working alongside these bodies, the project will create unique artworks and resources that enhance our cultural understanding of jazz and television.

The project will be the most comprehensive study of jazz television to date and aims to encourage further research in this field. It will explore notions of the live and recorded which are integral to the process of creating jazz television. It will also provide a nuanced historical account of jazz's role within the remit of BBC's public service broadcasting. The relevance of this narrative to current jazz musicians and television consumers will be demonstrated through recorded interviews and festival installations. In this way, the project addresses the role of archive television in the digital age.

Planned Impact

The outputs of this research project are:

1. Special issue of Jazz Research Journal on jazz and television, leading to edited collection proposal for Routledge Transnational Studies in Jazz series.
2. 30-minute jazz TV sequence filmed at BCU studios and R&D report on its production
3. 'Live' TV installation presented at Flatpack Film Festival and pitched to London Jazz Festival and Cheltenham Jazz Festival
4. Screening of four 1960s BBC jazz TV episodes with academic introductions at BFI Southbank
5. Jazz as Music Television academic conference hosted by BCU School of Media
6. Project website featuring archival dataset for BBC jazz television 1960-1969, selected audio interviews and portal to catalogues of international jazz television archives.

Taken together, these outputs will help to reposition television within established jazz histories and provide archival, ethnographic and practice-based models for the study of television production in the humanities. Outputs have been designed to provide leadership to, and opportunities for, other researchers and students working in the field of jazz and the media. Lasting effects of the research will be a turn within scholarship to more focused analyses of television production style and its collaborative and improvised qualities. The project is intended to build capacity at an individual and institutional level. For the PI, knowledge and understanding of television as a practical medium will facilitate ambitious media production in future research dissemination. Collaborations with media producers, musicians, archives and festivals will extend the PI's existing academic experience and create networks useful to future research. For BCU, the project represents a step change opportunity to elevate the international status of its jazz offer to researchers and students and to develop professional applications for its television facilities. There is considerable opportunity for impact and non-academic reach, with beneficiaries identified from private, public and third sector areas. Full details of the way beneficiaries will see impact from project outputs are described in the Pathways to Impact document [Pillai_Pathways] and the Academic Beneficiaries section of the Je-S form.
Description Media training for M3C
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
URL http://pgr-studio.co.uk/talking-heads-media-training-event/
Description Jazz and Visual Style symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited speakers drawn from the television industry and diverse fields in the humanities gave papers to 34 attendees, prompting questions and discussion. Members of the audience signed up to become members of a Jazz & the Media network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.bcu.ac.uk/media/research/news-and-events/what-does-jazz-look-like