Alan Stanbridge

Research and Publications

Stanbridge has published numerous journal articles and book chapters in the fields of popular music, jazz history, cultural policy, museum studies, and cultural theory, and his new book, Rhythm Changes: Jazz, Culture, Discourse, was published by Routledge in 2023.

He is a contributor to the Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, writing the main entries on Jazz and Postmodernism, with the main entry on the Hollywood Musical forthcoming in a future volume. Stanbridge has been a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Cultural Policy since 2002, a member of the Advisory Board of Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation since 2003, and he served on the Editorial Board of the Jazz Research Journal from 2004 to 2021. He joined the Board of Directors of the Guelph Jazz Festival in 2023, and he was a National Board Member of the Canadian Music Centre (CMC) from 2014 to 2019. Stanbridge has presented papers at conferences in Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, Spain, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Scotland, England, the United States, and Canada.

Stanbridge’s interdisciplinary research focuses on the manner in which a variety of discourses have shaped contemporary understandings of musical meaning and cultural value. These discourses have tended to become codified and naturalised, and have had a profound influence on the production, circulation, regulation, and reception of various forms of music. Drawing on a diverse range of musical examples from the early twentieth century to the present day, Stanbridge’s research explores the shifting value judgements that have served to circumscribe cultural artefacts, tracing the historical origins and contemporary trajectories of these evaluative discourses. His research has been supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Selected Journal Articles/Book Chapters​

And Then I Don’t Feel So Bad: Jazz, Sentimentality, and Popular Song
in Tony Whyton, Nicholas Gebhardt and Nicole T. Rustin (eds.) (2018) The Routledge Companion to Jazz Studies, New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 139-149

Somewhere There: Contemporary Music, Performance Spaces, and Cultural Policy
in Ajay Heble and Rob Wallace (eds.) (2013) People Get Ready: The Future of Jazz is Now!, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. 184-196

A Question of Standards: ‘My Funny Valentine’ and Musical Intertextuality 
in Tony Whyton (ed.) (2011) Jazz (The Library of Essays on Popular Music), London: Routledge, pp. 267-292
Note: This article first appeared in Popular Music History, Vol. 1 No. 1 (2004): 83-108

From the Margins to the Mainstream: Jazz, Social Relations, and Discourses of Value
Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation, Vol. 4 No. 1 (2008)

The Tradition of all the Dead Generations: Music and Cultural Policy
International Journal of Cultural Policy, Vol. 13 No. 3 (2007): 255-271

Display Options: Discourses of Art and Context in the Contemporary Museum
International Journal of Cultural Policy, Vol. 11 No. 2 (2005): 157-170

Of Sunshine and Happy Endings: Jazz, Parody, and the Limits of Interpretation
Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation, Vol. 1 No. 1 (2004)

Burns, Baby, Burns: Jazz History as a Contested Cultural Site
The Source: Challenging Jazz Criticism (now the Jazz Research Journal), Volume 1/04 (2004): 81-99

Detour or Dead-End? Contemporary Cultural Theory and the Search For New Cultural Policy Models
International Journal of Cultural Policy, Vol. 8 No. 2 (2002): 121-134

Liner notes for the 11-CD set, Out of the Box (BVHAAST, 2017), a major retrospective of the music of the Willem Breuker Kollektief, curated by long-time band members, bassist Arjen Gorter and trombonist Bernard Hunnekink
(Click on the cover image or title to read the liner notes; click here to see the individual CD covers)

“The medium-sized combo… delivered a lively mixture of Ellingtonian swing, artsy Weimar cabaret, Morricone-inspired scores, circus music, Spike Jones-derived shtick and practiced absurdity in ever-shifting proportions, with loads of improvisation embedded within rigorously arranged, meticulously charted compositions… On these discs, there’s no missing the mix of manic energy and sleek precision the group routinely achieved, swinging like mad and playing rich, contrapuntal arrangements… the set provides a dynamic portrait of Breuker’s diverse work.”
Peter Margasak, Down Beat

Encyclopedia Entries

in David Horn and John Shepherd (eds.) Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Vol. 8 Genres: North America, London: Continuum (2012), pp. 286-307

in John Shepherd, David Horn, Dave Laing, Paul Oliver and Peter Wicke (eds.) Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Vol. 1 Media, Industry and Society, London: Continuum (2003), pp. 106-111

Blue Note Records (US)/Englewood Cliffs Studios (US)
in John Shepherd, David Horn, Dave Laing, Paul Oliver and Peter Wicke (eds.) Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Vol. 1: Media, Industry and Society, London: Continuum (2003), pp. 659-660; 692-694

The Hollywood Musical
in John Shepherd and David Horn (eds.) Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Genres: International, London: Continuum (forthcoming)

Liner Notes/Reviews

At Somewhere There
Liner notes for the CD At Somewhere There (Barnyard Records, 2011), featuring Evan Parker, Wes Neal, and Joe Sorbara, recorded at the AIMToronto Interface Series with Evan Parker in February 2009
(Click on the cover image to read the liner notes)

Review: AIMToronto Interface Series with Evan Parker
Signal to Noise: The Quarterly Journal of Improvised, Experimental & Unusual Music, Issue #53 (Spring 2009): 42-43

Review Essay: Jim McGuigan, Rethinking Cultural Policy
in Oliver Bennett (ed.) Cultural Policy Review of Books, London: Routledge (2012)

in Daniel Kernohan (ed.) Music Is Rapid Transportation… From the Beatles to Xenakis, Toronto: Charivari Press (2010), pp. 52-65 (Click on the cover image or title to read the essay)

“The life-long passions for music which produced Music Is Rapid Transportation become vivid and the book becomes as much fun to read as it must have been fun to write.”
Chris May, All About Jazz

“I’m an avid music collector with wildly eclectic tastes, and this book spoke to me like few books have before. I instantly connected with the accounts by the seven individuals involved in the project… who share their backgrounds and trajectories as listeners: how they got turned on to music, how they moved from pop to music’s more arcane fields, and how those moves were mostly accretive rather than exclusive.”
François Couture, Musicworks

Selected Conference Papers

From Singing Cowboys to Kitchen Appliances: The Long Strange Trip of ‘You Are My Sunshine’
– Paper presented at Popular Music in Crisis, IASPM International XXI Biannual Conference, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, June 2023

Can Blue Men Sing the Whites? African American Exceptionalism, European Stereotypes, and the Jazz Studies Debate
– Paper presented at Jazz Then & Now – Seventh Rhythm Changes Conference, Conservatorium van Amsterdam, The Netherlands, August 2022

Beyond Blue Note: Representations of Jazz in Record Album Covers
– Paper presented at Documenting Jazz – Second Annual Conference, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, England, January 2020

Metaphorical Bandwagons: Allegories of Journeying in Jazz
– Keynote Closing Address presented at Jazz Journeys – Sixth Rhythm Changes Conference, University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz, Austria, April 2019

Swingin’ in the Ol’ Corral: Jazz Meets Country Music
– Paper presented at Beyond Genre: Jazz as Popular Music, Center for Popular Music Studies, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, April 2018

Reflections on Search and Reflect: A John Stevens Improvisation Workshop
– Co-presented with Rob Wallace and Joe Sorbara at ISIM (International Society for Improvised Music) 9th Festival and Conference, Music Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, May 2016

All the Rest is Propaganda: Jazz, Class, and Race in British New Wave Cinema
– Paper presented at Jazz Beyond Borders – Third Rhythm Changes Conference, Conservatorium van Amsterdam, The Netherlands, September 2014

Krazy Kats and Rhapsodies: Symphonic Jazz, Reconsidered
– Paper presented at Rethinking Jazz Cultures – Second Rhythm Changes Conference, Media City UK/University of Salford, England, April 2013

Of Fields and Fences: Digital Culture, Cultural Policy, and the Copyright Debate
– Paper presented at ICCPR 2012: The 7th International Conference on Cultural Policy Research, University of Barcelona, Ramon Llull University, and the Barcelona Centre of Contemporary Culture, Barcelona, Spain, July 2012

Don’t Fence Me In: Music, Sampling, and Creativity on the Digital Frontier
– Paper presented at Intellectual Property and the Making and Marketing of Music in the Digital Age, co-hosted by the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, the Department of Music, and the Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA, April 2010

Some cover art highlights from my BCU
conference presentation ‘Beyond Blue Note:
Representations of Jazz in Record Album Covers’

Topics covered included: original artwork by Alex Steinweiss, Jim Flora, David Stone Martin, Andy Warhol, Neil Fujita, and Richard ‘Prophet’ Jennings; the use of existing artwork by Rousseau, Kandinsky, Miró, Dali, and Pollock; the surrealist imagery of Ken Deardoff and the distinctive work of the enigmatic ‘Harvey’ for Savoy; the contributions of illustrators and cartoonists Arnold Roth, Don Martin, Ralph Steadman, and Gary Larson; the evocative work of photographer William Claxton on the West Coast scene; Sun Ra’s space age iconography; issues of race and gender; Vogue picture discs; jazz and knitwear (more research required); jazz and golf (poorly represented); and a few personal favourites.