An ethnomusicologist, jazz pianist, and former Mellon Foundation/Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellow, Mark Lomanno advocates for analytical and empathetic listening practices as gateways to experiential learning, creative experimentation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community engagement. His pedagogical, performance, and scholarly work all focus on “critical creative practice,” especially the relationship between academic studies and improvised performance. At Northeastern he teaches courses in: music ethnography; jazz history, theory, and performance; black popular music; critical improvisation studies; music of the Atlantic world; the history and diversity of Boston’s musical communities; and, in the music industry program, arts administration, hip hop, and venue management.
Lomanno’s research—in both ethnomusicology and jazz studies—is geographically based in the Atlantic world, including Latin America and the Caribbean, the African Diaspora, and the Eastern Atlantic region of Macaronesia (the Azores, Cape Verde, Madeira, and Canary Islands). Exploring how improvisation as musical and cultural practice can be used for advocacy, critical action, and social change, his research is highly interdisciplinary, drawing on comparative literature, dis/ability and embodiment studies, performance ethnography, applied science and technology studies, in addition to historical ethnomusicology, music theory, and anthropological fieldwork. A long-time collaborator with the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation and the E.U.-based Rhythm Changes project, Lomanno has conducted ethnographic, archival, and performance work on both sides of the Atlantic, presenting, publishing, and leading workshops throughout the United States and abroad.
Some of his forthcoming publications include: chapters for Duke University Press’s Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice series; and the University of Illinois Press’s New Perspectives on Gender in Music Series; along with articles on astrophysics, tourism, and Afrofuturist music in the Canary Islands; connections between the bebop era and the #BlackLivesMatter movement; and a critique of “methodological nationalism” in jazz studies. He is editing (with Daniel Fischlin) a forthcoming volume titled The Improviser’s Classroom: Pedagogies of Adaptive Performance, Social Engagement, and Creative Practice; and is co-editor of a special issue of the journal Critical Studies in Improvisation on improvisation, interdisciplinarity, and the liberal arts. In his monograph, Translating in the Break, Lomanno applies the concept of critical creative practice to the fields of jazz studies and ethnomusicology, exploring theoretical and writing models that open spaces for marginalized viewpoints through a juxtaposition of distinct musical practices, academic disciplines, languages, and interlocutors.
In the music industry Mark has been active as an artist, club manager, consultant, educator, and writer for the past 20 years, mostly in the New York City jazz scene. As a pianist and arranger, he maintains a quartet project which performs repertoire from the Afro-Atlantic world (including Brazil, Cape Verde, and Cuba); and is currently collaborating and recording with the Canarian ensemble Simbeque, which fuses jazz improvisation with the archipelago’s traditional music. Past recordings include: Simbeque v.2 (2018); Green Horn in a Red State (2014) with saxophonist Richard Oppenheim; Celebrate Brooklyn II (2013), a collaborative release with Canarian saxophonist Kike Perdomo; and Tales and Tongues (2011) with Le Monde Caché, a San Antonio-based jazz group that performs Brazilian, Afro-Latin and Jewish diasporic repertoire. Mark has premiered several compositions by the electro-acoustic composer Matthew McCabe and his performances of works by Cuban composers Ignacio Cervantes and Manuel Saumell are featured on the 2007 documentary, Cuba: Rhythm in Motion.
Lomanno currently serves as the Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Jazz Perspectives; and from 2013 to 2017 he served as Chair of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Improvisation Section. In 2012 he founded the blog “The Rhythm of Study,” an open-access website that focuses on collaborative and interdisciplinary discussions of jazz and improvised music in the arts, academia, and activism.
At Northeastern Lomanno also serves as an affiliate faculty member of: the African American Studies program, the Department of Cultures, Societies, and Global Studies, and the Interdisciplinary Arts MFA program. Before joining the University’s faculty, Mark taught previously at Swarthmore College and St. John’s University in New York City. He earned a B.A. degree (magna cum laude, in music and Latin) at the University of Richmond, an M.A. in jazz history and research at Rutgers University Newark, and a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was awarded both the Livingston and Graduate Dissertation Fellowships for his work in the Canary Islands.