Matthias Heyman

Postdoctoral fellow — Research Foundation - Flanders

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About Matthias Heyman

Welcome to my personal page at the University of Antwerp.

I am a postdoctoral fellow for the Research Foundation - Flanders (project no 1208720N). Starting 1 October 2019, I conduct a three-year research project on cultural values in international jazz competitions. In brief, this project aims to enrich our knowledge of the cultural value and artistic meaning surrounding jazz by investigating how international jazz competitions can be used to (re)produce, articulate, and negotiate certain values and beliefs about the music, such as collectivity, exceptionalism, and tradition. This will be done through a multi-layered comparative analysis of two of the most prestigious and longest running international jazz competitions, the B-Jazz International Contest (1979, Belgium) and the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Competition (1987, US). As research on jazz contests is virtually non-existent, this project will extend and expand our understanding of the meaning and significance of jazz practices by gathering historical and demographic data about music competitions and offering innovative interpretations of the cultural values on which they are based.

In 2018, I obtained a PhD of Arts at the University of Antwerp in affiliation with the AP University College (Royal Conservatoire Antwerp), which was funded by Research Foundation - Flanders as well (project no G003713N). For my research I contextualised the bass playing of jazz musician and Ellingtonian James 'Jimmie' Harvey Blanton, jr (1918–42). I argue that Blanton is a typical 'jazz icon' with all consequential myths and blanket statements, and his persona and music was thus in need of reevaluation. Most references describe Blanton as the 'revolutionary' bassist who modernised jazz bass playing. However, little in-depth research has been done to support this (and similar) statement(s). Also his body of work, both in the context of soloing as accompanying, has hardly been put in perspective with that of his precursors and contemporaries, emphasizing his status as a lone, 'mythical' pioneer. My research shed new light on the bass playing of Blanton, his colleagues, and the evolution of jazz bass playing in the 1930s and 1940s, while also revealing many new biographical elements of Blanton's life, such as his family background and musical education. I am currently working on a monograph on Blanton's life and music.

In addition, I am a freelancer, hiring out my services a guest lecturer, reviewer, writer, advisor-expert, and so forth. Some of my assignments have included lecturing jazz history courses for the LUCA School of Arts (Leuven), the Jazzstudio (Antwerp) and Davidsfonds Academie, writing status reports for CEMPER (Mechelen), and being a committee member for research selection/examinations at the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp and the Royal Conservatory The Hague.

Research interests: (the history of) jazz and popular music, jazz bass playing, Duke Ellington, Belgian jazz, The Beatles, tribute bands, historical recreation.

Statute & functions

Bijzonder academisch personeel
  • post - doc navorser FWO


Sint-Jacobstraat 2
2000 Antwerpen