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Nelsen Hutchison

PhD Candidate in Cross-Cultural Musicology

Nelsen Hutchison grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where he began playing guitar and developing an eclectic taste for music at a young age. He went on to pursue his musical education by studying jazz guitar at Berklee College of Music before transferring to the New School for Jazz where he received his BFA in guitar performance. Upon returning to the Bay Area Nelsen began his graduate studies as an MA student in Ethnomusicology at UC Santa Cruz. His MA Thesis explored the critical reception of soul jazz and the ways jazz organists of the 1960s signified on conventional performance practices. After completing his MA, Nelsen continued his studies at UC Santa Cruz where he is now a PhD Candidate in Cross Cultural Musicology. His PhD research employs ethnographic methods to analyze the political economy of the Bay Area jazz scene and the working lives of musicians. In addition to being a scholar and educator at UC Santa Cruz, Nelsen also regularly performs in the region as a freelance jazz guitarist. As a performer Nelsen has toured with the viral Swedish multi-instrumentalist Gunhild Carling, performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and recorded mandola on Larry Polanksy's New World Records album "These are the Generations."

Research Interests: 


African American Music,


Political Economy,


Honors and Awards: 

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for UCSC Music Dept (2017, 2020)

UCSC Art Dean's Fund For Excellence Award (2020)

Social Science Research Council Fellow (2020)

UCSC President's Dissertation Year Fellow (2022)

Education and Training: 
BFA in Jazz Guitar Performance from the New School for Jazz (2012)
MA in Ethnomusicology from UC Santa Cruz (2017)
Teaching Interests: 

Jazz, African American Music, Popular Music, Improvisation, Music Business, Music of South Asia