Site Accessibility Statement
Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of  Music
August 16, 2017
Canadian Excellence


Faculty of Music

Faculty of Music and Department of Political Science co-sponsor guest lecture by Dr. Mark Laver

Freedom of Choice: Jazz, Neoliberalism, and The Lincoln Centre

Jan 16/13

What does Jazz have to do with freedom and neoliberalism in the U.S.?  Come investigate the ways in which Jazz has been knitted into the fabric of American culture, society and politics, particularly through official and unofficial discourses of freedom.

Guest Lecture: Freedom of Choice: Jazz, Neoliberalism, and The Lincoln Center

By: Dr. Mark Laver, Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice, University of Guelph

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 12:00 noon, Paul Martin Centre (luncheon provided)


Jazz music’s status as a uniquely American cultural practice is rarely questioned, but is nonetheless continually reaffirmed. Speaking in Ken Burns’s 2000 miniseries, Jazz, Wynton Marsalis explained, “Jazz music objectifies America. It’s an art form that can give us a peerless way of understanding ourselves.” Crucial to the American nationalistic discourse of jazz is the metaphor of freedom. For example, numerous African American cultural critics have read jazz against the backdrop of slavery and oppression, understanding the music as an aestheticized practice of freedom. At the same time, several generations of American governments have also drawn on the freedom metaphor, linking jazz to neoliberal democracy. Jazz’s status as America’s music runs deeper than mere indigeneity: through the discourse of freedom, jazz has been knitted into the fabric of American culture, civic society, and politics.  

In this lecture, Dr. Mark Laver considers the Jazz at the Lincoln Center (J@LC) program as an institution that sutures these official and unofficial jazz-freedom discourses. In the coming months, J@LC will be opening a new jazz palace in the St. Regis Hotel in Doha, Qatar. J@LC Doha will be the first high profile jazz club in the Middle East, and will be the first in a series of four J@LC/St. Regis venues in Europe and Asia scheduled to open over the next five years. Dr. Laver proposes that the case of J@LC Doha shows us exactly how free market economics and jazz-based American cultural imperialism have become increasingly inseparable. The lynchpin here – as it has been throughout so much of the history of jazz music – remains the idea of freedom.


Mark Laver is a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice project, based at the University of Guelph. His current book project, Jazzvertising: Music, Marketing, and Meaning focuses on the use of jazz in advertising, marketing, and branding. Mark is also a professional saxophonist, and has performed with leading jazz and improvising musicians such as Lee Konitz, Kurt Elling, Phil Nimmons, NEXUS, Dong Won Kim, and Eddie Prévost.

View all Faculty of Music news
View all Laurier news