On Monday, January 31, 2011, in spite of an ominous weather forecast, an intimate crowd gathered in Bucknell Hall for the spring semester’s Samuel Williams Colloquia on Jazz and Culture.

The evening featured University of Pennsylvania scholar and musician Guthrie Ramsey, who is the author of such books as Race Music:Black Cultures from BeBop to Hip-Hop (University of California Press, 2004) and In Walked Bop:Earl “Buc” Powell and Modern Jazz Experiment (forthcoming).The first part of the evening featured Professor Ramsey’s enlightening lecture, which was entitled “Jazz as Social Contract.” In the discussion, Prof. Ramsey illustrated the sonic relationships that exist between seemingly distinct musical genres such as jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, soul, blues, and hip-hop.Ramsey exposed the ways in which the music that is often ascribed to those categories are both artificial and interrelated.

After Prof. Ramsey’s talk, he, Bucknell faculty members Phil Haynes and Barry Long, and Susquehanna faculty member Joshua Davis embarked upon a musical experiment of sorts.The experienced and talented group had never played together yet was able to create a unique improvisational musical experience for the gathering that would have been embraced in any jazz venue in the world but, fortunately for us, took place at Bucknell.

The event was co-sponsored by the Griot Institute, Ellen Williams, the University Lectureship Committee, CSREG, and the Kushell Music Endowment.