6 Arms Music Center
PO Box: AC# 2258
413-542-8208
Please call the college operator at 413-542-2000 or e-mail info@amherst.edu if you require contact info@amherst.edu

Jason L. Robinson

Assistant Professor of Music

Departmental affiliations: Black Studies; Film and Media Studies; Music

Courses

Academic Background

PhD in Music, Critical Studies and Experimental Practices, University of California, San Diego (2005)
MA in Music, Critical Studies and Experimental Practices, University of California, San Diego (2000)
BA in Music (Jazz Studies) and Philosophy, Sonoma State University (1998)

Teaching Interests

I teach courses in jazz and popular music, both of which I define quite broadly. When people ask what I do, however, I usually prefer a kind of shorthand: I'm a jazz saxophonist. And it's true, because both my teaching and my scholarship are deeply informed by my more that twenty years as a musician. I offer a range of jazz-related courses, including two jazz history courses (this and this), an upper level theory course, a seminar course in improvised music for majors, and others. As for popular music, I offer a writing intensive course and a seminar course for majors, among others. I also teach two musicianship courses (111 and 112). I'm deeply interested in foregrounding the role of ethnography in teaching and research and questioning various orthodoxies in jazz historiography. Take a course with me. We'll have a great time!

Scholarship

Much of my scholarship focuses on improvisation, African American music, and transnationalism. I've written articles and book chapters about the jazz avant garde of the 1960s and what I call "transdiasporic collaborations," projects that activate new ideas about the African diaspora through international collaborations. My current book project is titled (Re)Sounding the African Diaspora: Jazz, Improvisation, and Musical Transnationalisms, and investigates the role of improvisation in intercultural encounters through a series of case studies involving African American musicians and musicians from the African continent. I'm also currently writing about networked music performance (often called telematics), which involves musicians performing synchronously while distributed across multiple performance sites linked through the Internet. In November 2013, I gave a TEDx talk on the subject for the first annual TEDxAmherstCollege. You can watch a video of the talk here.

Music

Alongside my scholarship, I keep busy as a composer, bandleader, and collaborator. I'm a saxophonist (tenor, soprano, alto) and flutist (alto, C) and I'm fascinated by interactive and networking technologies (for my latest telematic project, click here). My primary group is Jason Robinson's Janus Ensemble, which ranges in size from a quartet (with guitarist Liberty Ellman, bassist Drew Gress, and drummer George Schuller) to its full, unorthodox nine-piece format (adding to the core quartet JD Parran and Marty Ehrlich, on reeds, tubist Marcus Rojas, tubist and bass trombonist Bill Lowe, and drummer Ches Smith). I've been lucky enough to appear on more than fifty recordings, including fourteen as leader or co-leader. Although I'm from the US west coast, and have many wonderful collaborators in California, my artistic home is the creative jazz scenes of New York and Boston. Want to learn more about my music and concert schedule?  Much more info here: www.jasonrobinson.com

Selected Publications

"Playing Regular: The Jazz Avant Garde." In The Idea of the Avant Garde - And What It Means Today. Marc Léger, ed. Manchester University Press, 2014. 235-244.

“Improvising Latencies: Telematics, Improvisation, and the Paradoxes of Synchronicity.” (re)thinking improvisation: Artistic explorations and conceptual writings. Henrik Frisk and Stefan Östersjö, eds. Malmö Academy of Music, Lund University. 2013.

“Dubbing the Reggae Nation: Transnationalism, Globalization, and Interculturalism.” In International Reggae: Current and Future Trends in Popular Music. Donna P. Hope, ed. Kingston, Jamaica: Pelican Publishers, 2013.

“Enacting Diaspora: Musical Improvisation and Experimentalism in Transdiasporic Collaborations.” Musics and knowledge in Transit / Músicas e saberes em trânsito / Músicas y saberes en tránsito. Susana Moreno Fernández, Pedro Roxo, and Iván Iglesias, eds. Lisbon: Colibri. 2012.

“The Challenge of the Changing Same: The Jazz Avant-Garde of the 1960s, the Black Aesthetic and the Black Arts Movement.” Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation 1:2 (May 2005).

Selected Recordings

Wih Groundation. A Miracle (Youngtree, forthcoming 2014).
With Marty Ehrlich. A Trumpet in the Morning (New World, 2014).
Tiresian Symmetry (Cuneiform, 2012).
With Groundation. Building an Ark (VP Records, 2012).
The Two Faces of Janus (Cuneiform, 2010).
With Anthony Davis. Cerulean Landscape (Clean Feed, 2010).
Cerberus Reigning (Accretions, 2010).
Cosmologic. Eyes in the Back of My Head (Cuneiform, 2008).
Fingerprint (Circumention, 2008).
Cross Border Trio. New Directions (Circumvention, 2007).
Cosmologic, III (Circumvention, 2005).
Tandem (Accretions, 2003).
From the Sun (Circumvention, 1998).