Australasian Jazz and Improvisation Research Network Conference 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesContribution to conference


Paper Presentation:

How Can Re-Interpretative Decisions Contribute to Agency Within Jazz Performance?

A composition can influence jazz ensemble performance by the way it is notated, the musical materials used, its suitability for the individual practitioners, and the space it allows for interpretation, interaction, and flexibility within performance. The agency of the performer in developing reinterpretations of jazz standards was explored through partially notated arrangements and improvisations within the development and performance of two recordings by the Paul Williamson Quartet.

The aim of this study was to explicate the ways in which individual and collective agency is shaped by focusing on how the reinterpretations affected the performers’ choices and, conversely, the effect performers’ choices had on ensemble improvisation.  

The arrangements and performances were guided by referents and refined by real-time performance decisions. This approach facilitated increased flexibility within the reinterpretations with specific melodic, harmonic and rhythmic referents acting as signifiers. These signifiers in turn provided an identifiable commonality between the otherwise antithetical frameworks of traditional and free jazz improvisation that co-exist on these recordings, facilitating a novel creative work. This artistic research considered agency in relation to the intention, goals and subsequent choices made by the individuals and ensemble in jazz performance through practice-led and heuristic methodologies.

Period2 Jun 20174 Jun 2017
Event typeConference
LocationMelbourne, Australia, VictoriaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • jazz
  • improvisation
  • agency
  • trumpet
  • ensemble