Paul AusterlitzGettysburg, PA
Composer, reed player, and ethnomusicologist Paul Austerlitz, Ph.D. combines his background as an ethnomusicologist specializing in Afro-Caribbean music with his creative work as a jazz musician. As a composer, Austerlitz weds his backgrounds in jazz and ethnomusicology, producing works that incorporate the musics that he researches. He is especially active in blending Afro-Caribbean music with free forms of jazz, and in initiatives that use music to bring various ethnic and social groups together. As an instrumentalist, Austerlitz has dedicated himself to mastering the bass and contrabass clarinets. He also plays Bb (soprano) clarinet and tenor saxophone.
Austerlitz has completed composing residencies at the Yaddo and Omi artist colonies, received grants from the Macoll Johnston Foundation, the American Composers’ Forum (among others), and worked with the U.S. Department of State in projects using his own multi-cultural music to bring local communities together in the Dominican Republic.
Austerlitz’s CD entitled “Journey” (on the innova label) combines jazz with Afro-Dominican, African, and Indian music as well as influences from European composers such as Debussy and Stravinsky. His CDs "Double-Take," "Our Book on Trane: The Yaddo Sessions," and "The Fret Cycle" are collaborations with the acclaimed poet Michael S. Harper, presenting Harper’s poems in conversation with improvisational flights on the bass clarinet, and his CD "A Bass Clarinet in Santo Domingo and Detroit" (X-DOT 25) features the brilliant Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba.
Dr. Austerlitz is the author of two books: Jazz Consciousness: Music, Race, and Humanity (2005, Wesleyan University Press) and Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identity (1997, Temple University Press). Jazz Consciousness was awarded the Merriam Award for Outstanding Book in Ethnomusicology by the Society for Ethnomusicology and an Honorable Mention for the Woody Guthrie Award by the International Society for the Study of Popular Music. It focuses on issues of race, nation, and transnationalism, looking at jazz in relation to national identity in the US, pan-Africanism, and global currents. Merengue considers Dominican music in relation to racial and national identity and has been translated into Spanish (2007, Ministry of Culture and Academy of Sciences of the Dominican Republic). Austerlitz has had articles published in the US, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Nigeria.