Monday, 23 April 2018

Conference, Birmingham: Dr Nicolas Pillai

Dr Nicolas Pillai, Birmingham School of Media, Birmingham City University is the organiser of the 25th International Duke Ellington Study Group Conference. He is the author of Jazz as Visual Language: Film, Television and the Dissonant Image. He is also co-editor of New Jazz Conceptions: History, Theory, Practice. He wrote the ‘liner notes’ which accompany the BFI’s recent re-issue on Blu-ray of the film Paris Blues for which, of course, Ellington and Billy Strayhorn created the music.

Dr Pillai’s major research project at present is to recreate the conditions under which jazz was originally filmed for television broadcasting in Britain during the 1960s. You can read about the project here. Some insight into Dr Pillai’s five best moments in jazz on British TV can be found at the BFI website here.

As part of his research into jazz and television, Dr Pillai discovered a film of Ellington’s appearance at Coventry Cathedral in 1966 in the cathedral’s archive. The film had been unseen for fifty years and was damaged but thanks to the efforts of Kaleidoscope, a company which specialises in archival research, the film has now been restored to its former glory.  His presentation, Duke Ellington in Coventry: discovering television and jazz in the cathedral archive is sure to be one of the highlights of the conference. 

You can read an interview with Dr Pillai about his work on the London Jazz News blog here.

A discussion between Dr Pillai and Professor Tim Wall on the famous BBC series Jazz 625 may be found here.

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