Mark Lomanno

Mark Lomanno, a Graduate Fellow and PhD Candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Texas at Austin, is writing a dissertation on musical and cultural improvisations of Canarian jazz musicians. Mark maintains an active career as a jazz pianist and has forthcoming contributions in the Grove Dictionary of American Music.



"Surfaces and (archi)Textures in Canarian Jazz"

As an autonomous community of Spain, the veneers of colonialism are quite present in the Canary Islands, despite many inhabitants' self-identification as African. In this paper, I will examine how surfaces—architectural, cartographic, ecological and sonic—act to frame (and mask) cultural and musical identity. Canarian jazz musicians treat the physical and ideological boundaries of these surfaces as interstitial spaces from which critical resistance can be performed. These improvisatory performances seek to counteract multiple types of actively produced local and global aislamiento (isolation), which these musicians must overcome in order to achieve economically-viable and aesthetically-fulfilling identities.

In the first of three case studies, I will examine how jazz performances in colonial Spanish and government-owned buildings are opportunities for re-inscribing new meanings on their architectural surfaces and for staging critique of the government’s ambivalence toward jazz music and Afro-Canarian identities. As a contrasting example, I present musical and discursive references to calima—a patina resulting from dust clouds traveling in air currents from the African continent—as a fluid and mobile, but still architectural, surface that recasts and (re)covers Spanish colonial architecture as Afro-Canarian.

Finally, I discuss the constructed spaces of Canarian architect Cesar Manrique as sites for jazz improvisation. For many Canarians, Manrique's work represents powerful and stable Canarian structures—as opposed to both colonial Spanish and the transient/removable surface architecture of calima. In addition to the amplifying effects for Canarian identity formation, performances in these sites—normally venues for classical and folk/traditional musics—serve to legitimize jazz music within Canarian academic, popular and state cultures.