On the streets of Amsterdam

For the past week, I’ve been in Amsterdam as part of the Rhythm Changes project. Rhythm Changes is the three-year European jazz research project I’m involved in, and this was the big conference on Jazz and National Identity.

Academics from around the world came together to talk about their own research, share ideas, give presentations, attend jazz gigs and explore the city. Because I’m part of the project that organised the conference, I had more than just a delegate’s role in the proceedings. My job was to put as much of the conference online as possible.

Originally, it was going to be me, two assistants, a few laptops, several Flip cameras, some great stills cameras, full recordings of all the presentations, live conversations online about the various topics, and so on. Unfortunately, budgetary and technological uncertainties got in the way and so we had to scale right back.

Jake hard at work in Amsterdam

Fortunately, Jake was available to come along with me to Amsterdam for the first few days, so I put him to work tidying up the code on the website, taking photos and adding the conference information to the Rhythm Changes site.

We stayed at a friend’s apartment, which was lovely – albeit rudimentary as far as sleeping arrangements were concerned… and we struggled to find wifi from time to time.

At Walter's apartment

It was really great to hang out with Jake of course, and he was really helpful and focused. He worked pretty hard, and the site is massively improved by his work. He left before the conference really got going though, which he’s probably quite thankful for – though I certainly could have used his help.

We also had the chance to visit my cousin Greg, his wife Nadine and their two children in the Hague. I haven’t seen them since their wedding (so I hadn’t met their two kids) so that was a real treat.

Then there was the long Skype/phone chat with my sister, who had a “big birthday” (that’s one of the ones with a zero or a five at the end) that day, and we also ended up talking to my parents for a good stretch too, so that was nice.

Ronald Radano keynote

As far as the conference is concerned, there’s so much that I could embed here on the blog, but most of it’s probably only of interest if you have a particular curiosity about current work in the field of jazz from a media, sociological and cultural studies perspective.

If that appeals, then by all means, go and check out the website, which has keynote addresses in full, musical performances, lots of interviews and other exciting stuff (your experience of ‘exciting’ may vary).

Conference dinner

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Delegates at the conference

Suffice to say we had a good time (yes, this is how we enjoy ourselves), learned a lot and had some fascinating discussions. Lots of really great people in this bunch and I’ve made some good friends through this project.

Came back home to lots of work, piles of emails and other pressing matters, which I had about 12 hours to deal with, because after a night at home, I had to turn around, get straight back to the airport and head off to Copenhagen, which is where I am now… and about which, more soon.