Faculty Directory

James Gordon Williams

Research Interests

Composition, Critical Improvisation Studies

Selected Publications





Crossing Bar Lines: The Politics and Practices of Black Musical Space. University Press of Mississippi (2021)


Journal Articles


Williams, James Gordon. “Black Birdanity.” Jazz and Culture, Vol. 4, No. 2, (2021); 85–104


Williams, James Gordon. “Randy Weston’s Pan African Politics of Music Education.” Jazz and Culture, Vol. 4, No. 1, (2021): 33-67


Williams, James Gordon. "Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s Critique of the Danziger Bridge Shootings." Jazz Research Journal, Volume 13, Numbers 1-2, (2019): 70-92


Williams, James Gordon. "Black Muse 4 U: Liminality, Self-Determination, and Racial Uplift in the Music of Prince." Journal of African American Studies 21, no. 3 (2017): 296-319

Williams, James Gordon. "Crossing Cinematic and Sonic Bar Lines: T-Pain's 'Can't Believe It'." Ethnomusicology Review 19, (2014)

Williams, James Gordon. “Improvising on Feedback Piano: Aesthetic Discourses Behind Technology and Sound” in Rethinking Improvisation: Artistic Explorations & Conceptual Writing, edited by Henrik A. Frisk & Stefan Östersjö, 169-177. Lund University, Sweden, (2013)


Williams, James Gordon. “African American Influences on American Music” in Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories That Shaped Our Culture, edited by Jacqueline Edmondson, 17-23, Greenwood Press, (2013).



Selected Performances

Artistic Research, Performances and Installations


Force of Things: In Conversation with artist Maria Gaspar and Live Performance by James Gordon Williams, invited by artist Maria Gaspar, Something Beautiful: Reframing La Colección Exhibition, Museo del Barrio, June 21, 2023


Terri Lyne Carrington’s Presents Music for Abolition, Keyboard Improvisation on Nicholas Payton’s composition “Freedom Is No Fear,” Institute of the Arts and Sciences, UC Santa Cruz, June 8, 2023 (Other artists in the program included Sarah Elizabeth Charles, Camila Cortina Bello, Morgan Guerin, Nicole Mitchell, Elena Pinderhughes, Dianne Reeves, Matthew Stevens and Carl “Kokayi” Walker)


Falling to Rise Again, Solo Piano Performance, April in Santa Cruz Festival of New Music, San Francisco, CA, the Lab, April 30, 2023


Model Citizen, Here I Stand. Multidisciplinary Performance Exhibition with Crystal Z. Campbell Living Arts, Tulsa, Oklahoma, December 7th, 2018-January 18th, 2019


You are mine. I see now, I’m a have to let you go. Suné Woods, Fred Moten & James Gordon Williams. UCLA Hammer Museum, August 23, 2018


You are mine. I see now, I’m a have to let you go. Suné Woods, Fred Moten & James Gordon Williams. Light Work, September 13, 2017


Outlaw Culture Music. Syracuse University, Community Folk Art Center, November 19, 2015



Solo piano improvisation for World Premiere of Cauleen Smith’s Crow Requiem & Speculations: Science Fiction, Chronopolitics, & Social Change. Everson Museum, April 7, 2015