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The narrative of jazz performance in Ireland is unique due to the political changes that coincided with the arrival of jazz and the influence these changes had on the nation. Over the last one hundred years, jazz performance in Dublin has represented contrasting values for different people. What has remained consistent is the notion of participation within a network of musicians, audience members, promotors and institutions that make up a scene. To participate in a scene is to be actively involved in contestation and negotiation as individuals and groups seek to create meaning and identity through jazz performance. In this thesis I examine both the development of the Dublin jazz scene and how meaning and identity is created through participation in it. It addresses an absence of scholarly work on jazz in Ireland beyond the anti-jazz movement of the 1920s, revealing an active community of jazz participants from the 1940s through to present times. It also addresses an imbalance of many jazz studies that focus only on ‘top-level’ performers, disregarding the complex interrelationships between not only musicians of all levels, but of the experience of audience members, journalists, promoters and others who participate in the performance of jazz.
This dissertation first conducts an historical overview of the Dublin jazz scene using primarily archival research. It then uses ethnographic methods to investigate and analyse the scene through its musicians, venues, educational institutions, audiences, promotional bodies and record labels. It argues that the day-to-day activities of jazz musicians, including those outside what has been traditionally viewed as ‘jazz’, should be taken into account when attempting to fully understand jazz performance. This dissertation highlights the long history of jazz performance in Dublin and gives voice to the participants within the scene and places those voices within the context of wider issues in jazz studies.
Evans, D. (2016) The creation of meaning and identity in the Dublin jazz scene, past and present. Doctoral thesis, Technological University Dublin, 2016. doi:10.21427/D7X32C