January 21, 2011


By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — University of Pennsylvania music professor Guthrie Ramsey will give the talk, "Jazz as Social Contract," on Monday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. in Bucknell Hall at Bucknell University.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Williams Colloquium on Jazz and Culture. It is co- sponsored by the Griot Institute for Africana Studies, the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender, and the University Lectureship Committee.

Shaped by sound and context
"In his talk, Ramsey plans to discuss the ways in which music — and particularly African-American music — is shaped not only by the sound but by the contexts of race and culture," said Barry Long, who is the Samuel Williams Professor of Music at Bucknell.

"Genres, or categories, also carry with them expectations from society. Jazz established a new social contract, or framework of expectations, when it was created and throughout its history," he said.

Musicologist and pianist
Ramsey is the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania.  A widely published writer, he is the author of Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop, which was named Outstanding Book of the Year by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music in 2003. He also has written In Walked Bop: Earl "Bud" Powell and the Modern Jazz Experiment (forthcoming) and Who Hears Here? Essays on Black Music, History, and Society (forthcoming).

A Chicago native, Ramsey earned his doctorate in musicology at the University of Michigan. Among his recent work is a commission (with President Obama's inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander) for an anthem commemorating the 100th anniversary of the NAACP. He co-curated the 2010 exhibition "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment" for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Ramsey was creative consultant and librettist for Ramsey Lewis' "A Proclamation of Hope: A Symphonic Poem," which premiered in 2009 and was performed at the Kennedy Center in November 2010.

"The Williams Colloquia are a set of talks created as an aspect of my professorship," said Long. "My primary goal is engaging our students in a dialogue with leading educators and professionals about the areas of intersection between jazz and society.

"We're thrilled to welcome an internationally recognized scholar, Guthrie Ramsey, and saxophonist and recently awarded NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman in March and look forward to rich discussions about the past century of music, race, and culture in America," he said.

Contact: Division of Communications

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