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Third Miles Davis conference focuses on jazz and civil rights

Third Miles Davis conference focuses on jazz and civil rights

Learn more about one of history's great jazz musicians and the impact of the civil rights movement on jazz at the conference titled "Miles Davis and American Culture III: Jazz and the Civil Rights Movement."

The conference, which is free and open to the public, will be held Saturday and Sunday, May 3 and 4, at the West Campus Conference Center. The conference runs from 9:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. May 3 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 4. No advanced registration is required.

This third conference on Miles Davis explores the relationship between the historical context of the civil rights movement and the history of jazz. Musicians, critics and record producers who were active in the jazz scene between 1954 and 1965 will present their recollections and analysis of the role of historical events in shaping everyday life in the music industry.

The conference is sponsored by the African and Afro-American Studies Program, the American Cultures Studies Institute and the Department of Music, all in Arts and Sciences. It is supported in part by the Missouri Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Ingrid Monson, Ph.D., assistant professor of music, will open the conference. Closing remarks will be made by Gerald L. Early, Ph.D., the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters in the Department of English in Arts and Sciences and director of African and Afro-American studies.

Among the conference participants are Bernice Johnson Reagon, music scholar and civil rights activist; A.B. Spellman, music critic; Dan Morgenstern, critic and scholar; Orrin Keepnews, record producer; Charles Neblett, musician and member of The Freedom Singers; musicians Sonny Fortune, Billy Higgins, Richard Davis, Jackie McLean, Babatunde Olatunji and Randy Weston; Wayne Fields, Ph.D., professor of English; and Donald Matthews, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in African and Afro-American studies.

Conference sessions include "Activism and Professionalism in Jazz," "Internationalism and Spirituality in the Struggle for Civil Rights: The Look to Africa, India and the Middle East," and "The Jazz Press and Recording Industry in the Era of Civil Rights."

A special concert featuring artists who worked with Miles Davis will be presented at 8 p.m. May 3 in the Shoenberg Auditorium of the Missouri Botanical Garden. The performance is produced by Jazz St. Louis with assistance from the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Botanical Garden. Tickets are $15 at the door.

For more information on the conference, call (314) 935-5690.

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