We're in an energetic cocktail-hour press reception in Manhattan during the JVC Jazz Festival. Providing background music an excellent but unannounced jazz trio plays Willow Weep for Me.
"Did you hear the rumour about that tune?" Dan Morgenstern asks me. Had I heard ten rumours about the song there would only be one wise answer. "No?"
Dan is a rich fund of knowledge about jazz and about Manhattan. Odds-on he's going to tell me something new.
"Ann Ronnell, the composer, was seeing George Gershwin regularly when she wrote Willow Weep for Me," says Dan. "The story is that George actually wrote it, and made her a present of the copyright."
Who knows? With all that motivic repetition, the melody contains enough Gershwin thumb prints to give credence to the anecdote.
Director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University since 1976, Dan Morgenstern is a jazz historian, author, editor, and archivist active in the jazz field since 1958. The Gershwin/Ronnell story is one example of his abundant knowledge of jazz and its people. The Institute of Jazz Studies, the largest collection of jazz-related materials anywhere, is fortunate to have such an erudite enthusiast at the helm.
Born in Germany and reared in Austria and Denmark, Dan Morgenstern settled in the US in 1947. Chief editor of Down Beat from 1967 to 1973, he served as New York editor from 1964, prior to which he edited the periodicals Metronome and Jazz. His first regular jazz writing gig was as New York correspondent for Jazz Journal in1958.
His scholarship is formidable, his experience vast. He's met Cole Porter, chatted to Charlie Parker, currently serves as a judge for the Danish JAZZPAR project, and Artie Shaw still calls occasionally. That's some broad view of jazz. To walk around Manhattan or Harlem with him, hearing his reminiscences inspired by the surroundings, is to share indescribable insights and awareness. What a documentary that would make!
Thankfully, Dan has contributed to many reference works, including the Oxford Companion to Jazz, and it's good news that a collection culled from his many decades of writing will be published in 2003. Dan has won six Grammy Awards for Best Album Notes (1973, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1991, and 1995). He received ASCAP's Deems Taylor Award for his 1976 book Jazz People.
I took the short subway trip from Manhattan out to the Rutgers campus to spend a memorable day with Dan Morgenstern at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Newark. The Institute is comfortably housed on the first floor of a modern building. Dan showed me round. He began with a little historical background.
"This year sees the 50th birthday of the Institute of Jazz Studies, which was founded by Marshall Stearns," he said. "Marshall was one of the first, if not the first, serious American jazz scholars. He was a collector not only of records - though his record collection was world-famous and Charles Delaunay consulted him, and thanks him in the first edition of his Hot Discography. But he also kept meticulous files of clippings not only of articles he had written, but of other things. He had extensive research files. He had every important book ever published on jazz, and he had a lot of periodicals.
So this was a marvellous collection. He was by vocation a professor of English, a Chaucer specialist, and taught at Hunter College in New York. He had a great big apartment in Greenwich Village - eight rooms or so - and one room was his jazz collection. In 1952 he felt that there was no place where anyone could do jazz research. So he incorporated himself as The Institute of Jazz Studies and made his collection available by appointment.
"Initially it was on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings. He had a couple of people helping him. One was Bob Reisner, who later did that strange oral biography of Charlie Parker. He was a trained librarian. The other curator was Sheldon Harris, who later published a gigantic Blues Who's Who Encyclopaedia. Stearns also began to solicit things from his friends, and musicians, and so on. So the collection kept growing, in addition to now being somewhat accessible.
"Then, as things began to open up in the academy for jazz in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, and the Black Studies began in the universities, he felt that it should be placed in an institution of higher learning. He had hoped that one of the black universities would take it. It was offered to Fisk, and Howard - and we're now in the mid-sixties - and they turned it down. Because at that time there was still a lot of cultural prejudice against jazz and blues among middle class blacks. It wasn't considered respectable. So they said, 'No, thanks.'
"So it came to Rutgers, because Rutgers had a president named Mason Gross who was interested in American popular culture. He actually had a television show on what was then called Educational Television about that very subject. There were a couple of people at Rutgers, faculty members, who had his ear and who knew Marshall's collection. So it came to Rutgers. The papers were signed and everything, in 1966. Everybody had expected an orderly transition. Rutgers is the State University of New Jersey. It has three campuses: the main one in New Brunswick, the second one in Newark, and the smallest one in Camden.
"Then, unfortunately, Marshall, who was only in his late fifties, and was a tall and extremely skinny man, and who didn't look at all like a likely prospect for a heart attack, suffered a massive heart attack and dropped dead in 1967. His wife wanted to get out of New York. They had another home in the Florida Keys. She just called Rutgers and said: 'Come and get this stuff, or else it'll be on the sidewalk.'
"So it came here under those odd circumstances. They stuck it away and didn't know what to do with it. But they did do one thing, which was the only thing that Marshall asked for, what we call ''The Three 'As'''. He was experienced with universities. He knew that they could tuck it away somewhere. So one of the things was access. He wanted it to be accessible, not just to academics and students, but to anyone with a legitimate interest in consulting materials.
The second was acquisitions. He knew that maybe there wouldn't be a lot of money, but subscriptions to the major periodicals, acquisition of the most important books and recordings were important.
"The third 'A', which was eventually abandoned to a degree, was autonomy. He knew that in a large university there might be a music department head or a librarian who would be sympathetic to jazz. But he or she might be followed by somebody who said, "We don't need this stuff." So he wanted it to be autonomous. So for a long time at Rutgers the Institute was a freestanding unit.
"When I came into the picture 26 years ago, in 1976, it was a unit of the Mason Gross School of the Arts, located in New Brunswick. I had left Down Beat a couple of years before. I had just finished a book, which was published just before I started here in October 1976. I was doing freelance work, and I was teaching jazz history in Baltimore once a week at Peabody Institute. So I thought, 'This is something very interesting, let's see what can be done with it.' So here I am, 26 years later, still here.
"In the beginning I had only a part-time assistant, who had been there for about six months. That was Ed Berger, now our associate director, who will be known to people as the author of several books: Teddy Reig's autobiography, and George Duvivier's biography, and of course, with his late father, the Benny Carter book which is about to be published in a second enlarged and revised edition: Benny Carter; A Life in American Music. We now have a staff of five professionals. There is a secretary, and there is a part-time reference assistant. So we've come up in the world, so to speak. And the collection has about quintupled in all its aspects since it came to Rutgers.
"Clipping files, name files, are alphabetical, and the great majority of these names are musicians - but there are also a few important non-musicians like John Hammond and Norman Granz. There are some writers who are very productive, like Whitney Balliett, Gary Giddins, Stanley Crouch, Nat Hentoff, and so on. But mostly it's musicians. And the contents are taken from newspapers and general interest magazines, rather than specialist magazines. But there are also things from Down Beat, and so on, and press releases and publicity handouts from record companies. So there's a variety of stuff. In some cases the largest single component is Ellington, who throughout his life, and also posthumously, probably had more press than anyone, except maybe Miles Davis. But Ellington had a longer career.
"We're about to install our first exhibit of memorabilia and other visual materials from the collection. It has a monitor with a DVD which eventually will have an interactive screen, made possible by a donation of money from a patron of the Institute who felt that we should have a place where we could display these things. We've occasionally had an exhibition here on campus. We have also loaned materials for exhibition in Japan and in Europe and other parts of the US, but we've never had our own display facility.
"Here are reference materials, things like Grove, Jazz Grove, Music Index, and all kinds of bibliographies and discographies. They're the big ones, like Bruyninckx. He's been here. He told us that 'Broy-Nix' is the correct way to pronounce it. He's Belgian, quite a character. Like all discographers, it comes with the territory.
"The most recent one is the Lord, which has reached the end of the alphabet, and is now being revised. It's the first thing that's really computer-generated, 26 volumes. We haven't gotten the last two yet. He's not done much original research, but he compiled it from other sources. It''s very useful because it's up to date.
"Then there are country discographies. Stuff like Brazil, British Dance Bands, Danish Jazz, Canadian, Swedish, German. Then there are label discographies. It's amazing what's been going on in this field. The most recent one is Brunswick, which is four volumes. Decca is six volumes. Then the Bielefelder compilation, which is an annual German one, very substantial. Then V-Discs, by a man who was a geologist, Richard Sears. He did a lot of research here. He worked for years for one of the big oil companies in Saudi Arabia. He had a lot of time on his hands, and did this V-disc book. Then the name discographies, which are proliferating, also compilations of record reviews from Down Beat and various sources. Then we come to the periodicals. Not all our periodicals are on the shelf here, which is accessible to anyone who comes here. Things that are current, and things that we have complete runs of, which we bind, are here, arranged alphabetically, by title.
"We have what is the major collection of jazz and music periodicals anywhere, because some years ago we were able to purchase on the instalment plan one of the major collections of jazz periodicals in the world. As we know, there are thousands and thousands of record collectors, but there are not many people who collect periodicals.
"This one person, Harold Flakser, had been collecting periodicals all his life. He eventually had to maintain two apartments in Brooklyn, one where he lived with his wife, and the other where he kept his magazines! Eventually that became a little unmanageable for them, so he decided that this was the proper place for the collection. We were able to negotiate a deal where we paid for it over a period of time. It was a remarkable collection. He had wonderful, wonderful European stuff, complete runs of pioneering periodicals, such as French Jazz Tango Dancing, which started in 1930, and an even older one - really the first one - the French Revue du Jazz, which was started by the French bandleader Gregor in 1929. It's exceedingly rare. There were eight issues; we have five of them. The Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris didn't even know it existed! Harold Flakser is a frequent visitor here. He still helps with the collection.
"We have a complete run of Down Beat. We''re the only place that has everything from the first issue. The first two years are extremely scarce, 1934, 1935, because they were printed on cheap newsprint and they just deteriorate. We were fortunate. About fifteen years ago, by serendipity, we became aware of an elderly gentleman in Philadelphia who was a retired doctor. In his younger days he had been a dance band musician. He had the earliest issues, and he had them bound. They were in decent condition. We had them microfilmed, so we have everything. That's good. There are lots of international periodicals. There are ephemeral things, and things that are only known in the region, like Jersey Jazz, which is published by the New Jersey Jazz Society, It's a monthly, and it's respectable. It has quite a lot of information in it; it's more than of just local interest.
"Here's Swing Journal, the Japanese one, which has been around for 35 years now. A substantial publication, it has the largest circulation of any jazz magazine, larger than Down Beat or Jazz Times, currently about 125,000. One of the reasons for the secret of their success is that they also cover audio equipment. As you can see, that it's very nicely done. There are not too many people who come here who can read Japanese, but there''s a lot in the magazine partially in English, such as the record reviews. They have pictures of the covers, and have a rating system that you can glean, little men with megaphones. The alligator is half a star. Each issue has a discography that is also listed in English, and there are wonderful photographs. A deep bow is the highest rating. When the little man throws his megaphone up in the air it denotes the next highest rating.
"We have a tremendous amount of music. There are song collections, major songwriters, and people like Jelly Roll Morton. Then transcribed solos, method books, then all the fake books. The Anderson is not too well known, for traditional jazz, but there are thousands of songs in here. Well indexed, there's a lot of obscure stuff there. Then Jamey Aebersold's things, hardbound. Gershwin, Bill Evans, Rags, things that were put out by Mills Music, Clarence Williams, Quincy Jones. Frank Paparelli, who was best known to Dizzy Gillespie discographers as the pianist on the 'Groovin' High' session, and 'Blue and Boogie', but he also transcribed a lot of Art Tatum stuff.
"We have a little section of Musicians' Union Directories, going back to 1940, Local 802, and Los Angeles Local 47. They are useful. In some cases there are various spellings of musicians' names. We can look them up. It will be correct in there, because it's a professional record. You can be sure that's the way the name was really spelt. You can also find out where people were living at a particular time. Find out when they moved from one place to another. Sometimes, the more obscure people, they used to have a necrology in each annual combination, We save all kinds of things, predominantly books on jazz, but Marshall Stearns was extremely interested in everything that related to the origins of jazz. Lots of books about New Orleans, Chicago, New York, including some very old ones. When Marshall's The Story of Jazz was first published in 1956 it was the major jazz history text. He was one of the first to point to the Caribbean influence. He was interested in Haiti, in Jamaica, also in American Folk Music, Minstrelsy, Musical Theatre, Burlesque. He was really a scholar, in the best sense of the word. He had a wonderful library, and many rare books here, including some first editions. Here''s Henry M. Stanley's In Darkest Africa. (Scribners). Things that you wouldn't expect. Marshall was also an expert on jazz dance. Posthumously with his wife he published the book Jazz Dance, which is the only serious history and analysis. He even devised a way of showing dance steps, transcribing them. Here''s Vernon and Irene Castle's book on modern dance, which has photographs which show, if you look closely, the James Reese Europe band, which accompanied them. They appear in a silent film called The Dance of Life. In the photograph you can see the musicians, with double bass. We also have a lot of foreign books.
"There's Howard Becker's The Outsiders. By coincidence, when I was living in Chicago, Howard lived in the same building, so I got to know him quite well. He'd been a piano player, so he had inside knowledge.
"When I first started reading about jazz, there was a handful of books. Now there are hundreds, and every year more and more. The academics have gotten into the act. Some of the stuff is rather strange. (He laughs). At least, to those of us who were around many years ago, and remember. Seeing how people look at the past today, it's sometimes a bit odd.
"There are a lot of biographies, which is another burgeoning field. We also collect things which are only marginally connected to jazz - Sinatra books, biographies of Country and Western singers, popular singers, blues, ragtime, things that intersect. We would much rather be inclusive than exclusive. Everything is interrelated. Sometimes you will make very interesting discoveries. We have piano rolls, phonograph cyclinders78s. There are early recordings of songs that became jazz standards, banjo solos from the first decade of the 20th century. They're interesting; you'll find them in Rust. Worth keeping. Schwann catalogues; there are things that fall between the cracks in discographies.
"People often ask when an LP was first released. You won't be able to find that out most of the time from the record companies, but in Schwann, at least in the first couple of decades, you can see when they were first listed. It was monthly, but now comes out annually.
"We have a section on jazz-related fiction and poetry, including things that are respectable from the literary standpoint, others that are not! 'Swing Brother, Swing', Ngaio Marsh (pronounced 'Ny'o'). She was a very prolific 1950s New Zealand author. These were the equivalent of dime novels. 'Hot Sweet and Blue'." He reads: 'They love as they played: hot, sweet, and often bitter.'
"It's cultural history. Some are quite good. The Horn, by John Clellon Holmes (1958), a novel about a jazz saxophonist. Harold Flenders' 'Paris Blues', which the movie was based on. 'World in a Jug'. The late George Simon, former editor of Metronome - this is a juvenile: 'Don Watson Starts his Band.' It's inscribed 'To Marshall Stearns, 1946.' It's about a high school kid who starts a band of his own. The foreword by Benny Goodman. Nat Hentoff wrote a jazz juvenile called ''Jazz Country''.
But Marshall was also into Southern folklore, so we have all these things by George W. Cable, the inventor of Uncle Remus. These are very nice 19th century things.
"There's poetry. There's a section on jazz-related art, and of course Max Bacon's Max and Swing, in a case, and a trumpet book by Nat Gonella. Newsletters: there are many little jazz societies, some not so little, all over the United States, that put out mostly monthly newsletters. Dave Brubeck puts out a newsletter. Other artists do this - here are some that are no longer around. There was a Chet Baker newsletter, Bill Evans newsletter, Blues Societies, all sorts of stuff.
"Our record specialist here is an Englishman, John Clement. He takes care of the record collection and imports newly-acquired stuff which may be newly released things as well as retrospectively collected stuff, because we do get donations of collections. Sometimes we pick up something that we know we don't have. All that is put into a computerised shelf list. We hope to have it online one of these days. At least internally we are able to locate any recording on CD or EP or LP, 10" or 12", and a lot of our 78s.
We have more than 100,000 discs in various formats, upwards of 70,000 LPs, and the CDs, constantly growing, approaching 20,000. We're getting more and more of the 78s, because they haven't all been entered, close to 40,000 of those. So it's a substantial collection. That's not counting things like 16" transcription discs. There are also 300-400 cylinders. What happens here (in the next room) is that John Clement inputs all that stuff. He's also our bag collector."
One can't miss the bags, which are displayed on the wall. They are plastic carrier bags from many prominent British retailers past and present: James Asman, Mole, Backtrax Records (Ilford), Ray's Jazz Shop, Steve's Sounds (WC2) and Sounds Familiar (Romford).
"Now we go into the stacks, which are temperature and humidity controlled. Good to have. More periodicals here, including ephemeral things with very brief runs, things that are of a marginal nature. They're arranged alphabetically, in boxes. There are also lots of duplicate Down Beats. We have a complete run of Melody Maker from the first issue, 1926, up to the early 1960s, when it ceases to be a periodical with a major focus on jazz. But all the old issues are very interesting.
Here is one room devoted to oral history. Here we have a major undertaking that was financed by the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Panel, between 1972 and 1983. As soon as the jazz programme in NEA got under way it became clear that the pattern of funding excluded older musicians. So what was established was a project to interview and get career histories from older musicians - over 60 - and there were certain guidelines. Interviews had to be at least five hours long and to cover the whole life history. There was not enough money to do all the people who should have been done.
"As the project moved along, it was felt that certain people were very good interviewers. Others didn't do so well even if they knew the musicians they were talking to. Milt Hinton (he and I chaired the panel for a while) was terrific. He loved to do interviews. He excelled at it. When he and Quentin Jackson got together there were marvellous anecdotes. Some not so funny in retrospect, tales about being on the road, tales about eating contests, who could eat more. Benny Carter, by the way, was considered one of the champion eaters, Even to this day, in his mid-nineties, Benny still has a good appetite. Stories about buses breaking down. There's one place famous for a huge rat. Its name was Jerry. When Jerry the Rat came down the stairs, everyone would get out of his way!
"Since it stopped in 1985, the great majority of interviewees are no longer living, Those interviews are available in transcribed form. So you can consult the transcription rather than having to listen. Some of the interviews are much longer than five hours. Milt Hinton was interviewed twice. The total time of his two interviews adds up to more than thirty hours. Maxine Sullivan did seventeen hours. We relaxed the 60-year-old requirement when people were known to be in ill health, so that Wilbur Ware is among the people who were interviewed. This is the only record of a significant modern jazz artist who never was interviewed in depth otherwise. In this case the interview was done by his wife, who was a trained social worker, a very intelligent woman who knew how to do an interview.
"John Simmons, the bass player, who was very ill and knew that he didn't have very much time left to live, was very frank, and let it all hang out. He had a relationship with Billie Holiday, and there are things in there that we thought of possibly restricting. But then John's daughter is Sue Simmons, who is a famous newscaster on one of the major New York TV channels, NBC nightly news. She's been on there, must be more than twenty years. Sue read this thing, and found it fascinating, because she never knew her father very well at all. She gave us permission to make it available. Then there's lots of other materials that we don't have the wherewithal to transcribe them. They're only accessible on tape. We have asked for funding to preserve them.
"We also have here tapes of people we've interviewed for our radio show. We have a radio show called 'Jazz From the Archive', on WGBO, which is one of the few remaining full-time jazz radio stations in the US. It happens to be here in Newark. It's a public radio station and, aside from news, it's all jazz, 24 hours a day. We've had a show on there for 22 years. It's a weekly show, on Sunday nights. Sometimes we do interviews.
"Then we also have individual collections of things donated to us. John Benson Brooks was an arranger and composer, perhaps best known for the lovely Alabama Concerto, recorded by Cannonball Adderley and Art Farmer. He also wrote Ray McKinley's hit You Came a Long Way From St. Louis, and also the very beautiful Where Flamingoes Fly, which was recorded by a number of people, including John's friend and contemporary Gil Evans. There's correspondence there with Gil, and a lot of musical manuscript. He kept notebooks. He would talk to his friends - George Russell was another close friend - then he would write down what they had been talking about. Then he has reflections on the nature of music. Quite fascinating.
"We have an enormous collection from Art Hodes, who saved everything related to his career. For a while he was editor of the jazz magazine Jazz Record, 1944 - 47/48. He kept all the correspondence with his readers, musicians, kept photos, etc."
At this point Dan pauses to open a door which has extra security. He says something about 'The Great Jazz Band in the Sky'. When we go into the room, I see why.
"This is where we keep all out memorabilia," he says, opening a large floor-to-ceiling cabinet which is full of musical instruments. "There's a lot of stuff. This is Miles Davis' trumpet. It's green, a Martin made specially for him. Black on top, green underneath. 'Miles Davis', in gold lettering. It's a C trumpet. Our trumpet section is pretty good. It includes Roy Eldridge, Cootie Williams, Bobby Hackett, Joe Newman (flugel and trumpet) and Red Nicholls. His is a very pretty cornet with five pennies (not real ones) replicated on the bell. It's an Olds.
"Pee Wee Irwin, and a cornet that belonged to Kid Ory. Roy's instrument has rhinestones on the mouthpiece (not diamonds!). It's a Getzen. Not his number-one horn, but he gave it to us. Soft case. It's got his address on here, and it says, 'Little Jazz, JATP.' Silver finish, bronze mouthpiece, three circles of rhinestones. He told me he'd had it a long time, and it caught the spotlight. Like the piano players - even as serious a guy as Teddy Wilson - they had what they called 'sparklers', a diamond ring, usually on the left hand, that would catch the spotlight. There's Pepper Adams' baritone, and the other baritone is Roland Kirk's.
"We have Lester Young's tenor, the one he used when he was with Basie. It was acquired by Marshall Stearns, who got it from Lester back in the 50s."
Lester's saxophone is an American Conn, with a matt gold lacquer, rolled tone holes, with B and Bb pads each side of the bell. There is a note of authentication accompanying the instrument, signed by Lester Young, and the name 'Prez', in Young's own hand. Dan draws attention to this. It is verification that although Young's nickname is a shortening of 'President', Lester himself spelt it with a zed (or what he would have called a zee), as 'Prez'.
"Pee Wee Russell's clarinet, the other one is from Clarence Hutchenrider of Casa Loma fame. The straight alto from Roland Kirk, and his bass recorder. There is a C Melody saxophone back there from Benny Carter, and a beautiful Don Byas tenor here, which we recently had overhauled."
The saxophone has a complex octave key mechanism, fashioned to look like a snake. The mouth, underneath the jaw, holds the octave pad; the open jaw goes above it.
"We also have Ben Webster's French Selmer, 1937, the one he called, fondly, 'Old Betsy'. It was his favourite horn. When he came to Europe, the Selmer people gave him a new horn, but he didn't like it as well, so he gave it to Dexter Gordon, and kept Old Betsy. The cases are up there on top. There is more: Trombones that belonged to Dickie Wells, Vic Dickenson, Jack Teagarden - a silver horn, which he gave to one of his sidemen. He said, 'People want to see me play a gold horn.' "
"Then we have Tommy Benford's drums. We have Eddie Condon's four-string Gibson guitar. So we have quite a jazz band in the sky.
"A little hat collection. We have Dick Wellstood's beret, a genuine French beret, and Willie the Lion''s bowler hat, Buck Clayton''s Borsalino and Kid Ory's straw hat. We loaned a bunch of stuff to an exhibition in Japan, and one of the items was the straw hat. That was the only thing that was not allowed into Japan. It was returned to us very quickly. You're not allowed to import straw materials into Japan. Poor Kid didn't make it.
"We have all kinds of mutes. There's the Dicky Wells buzz mute - one that he punched holes in - and we have things like the Gene Krupa award which was given for his ten weeks in the Capitol Theatre, New York, which was the longest successful run in 1944. Here''s a citation to Marshall Stearns, from the State Department, for public service. That was when he hosted and chaperoned the Dizzy Gillespie State Department big band tour of the near east in 1956.
There are oddball things, like a bottle of Ballantine's Scotch, with a label ''Wild Bill Davison's Birthday Party, 1981. Of course, Wild Bill was a very distinguished customer of Ballantine's.
There's champagne. 'Cuvee Lionel Hampton, Blanc de Blancs'. A very early souvenir plate from the Newport Jazz Festival, with images of Louis, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington.
This belonged to Ella Fitzgerald. It's a statuette of a singer with a microphone, the whole thing made of spoons and forks. She was very fond of this. She had it on her mantelpiece.
"The Armstrong archive at Queens College has much more, but this is Armstrong's lip salve, which was custom-made for him by Franz Schü#252;ritz in Mannheim. He swore by this stuff. Here's a Dizzy Gillespie mouthpiece, and Vic Dickenson's gig bag.
"There are Down Beat plaques and awards to Stan Getz and Earl Hines. A hand-painted tie made for Louis Armstrong. George Duvivier's gold record, which was awarded for a not very jazzy session he did with Barry Manilow. We have a lot of George's arrangements. He was quite a prolific and very gifted arranger. He wrote for various bands: Sy Oliver, Arnett Cobb. We have the original Gil Evans arrangements, done for Helen Merrill, for the well-known Mercury session, a gift from Helen. Things in Gil's hand are not that common.
"Some African instruments that were collected by Marshall. Marshall thought that the Institute should have every reproductive device, so we have an Edison Diamond disc reproducer, which - by the way - has better sound than any other acoustic phonograph that I know of.
Nowadays we take our portable CD players to the beach if we want to, but back in the twenties if you wanted to take your phonograph to the beach here's a little compact, and it's cute."
This tiny machine is actually called a Kompact Disc Player. The base measures about 4"x3"x9". It has a tiny turntable, and the horn folds up neatly.
"Here's the Lampophone. A standard lamp, the base of it is a turntable housing, the sound is projected upwards into the lampshade. It''s all made of copper. According to the editor of Record Research Magazine, the late Lennie Konstant, a major collector, this is vintage 1918-1920. It was the first phonograph with an electrically powered turntable, although the reproducer is acoustic, of course. We even have a 78 on the Lampophone label, which is quite rare.
"We have Billie Holiday's fake gardenia, when she couldn't get a real one, and some of her costume jewellery. We have bow ties from Eddie Condon and Dick Wellstood. Here''s a beautiful Armstrong manuscript, which has now been published in a book that came out a couple of years ago, of Louis's own writing. When we acquired this, it was unknown. It came from the estate of Robert Goffin, who was one of the first jazz historians. Even before Panassié, he wrote a book about jazz. Goffin was an amazing guy. He was a respected surrealist poet, he was a prominent criminal lawyer, and he was a jazz historian. He was here as a refugee from Belgium during the war, and had very little money. People who helped him included Leonard Feather, who got him a gig writing stuff for Esquire, and he got a contract with a publisher to do a book on Louis, which turned out to be in its English translation a bit of a dud.
"It was called Horn of Plenty, and the translator, unfortunately, indulged in trying to reproduce what he thought was authentic black speech. It sounds like Amos 'n' Andy. It was a semi-fictionalised account. I think it turns out a little better in the original French, but in any case Louis was helping Goffin while he was writing this book and giving him money. There's correspondence here on Louis' stationery of the time, which is quite fancy. It's yellow, and he was then enamoured of using a green ribbon and signing in green ink. Above his name he writes, 'Am Pluto-Waterly yours.' Pluto Water was Louis' laxative of choice, before Swiss Kriss. ''In the telegram as sent to you at Riverside there was $200.'' He kept sending him anything from $50 to $200. Then, most important, on notepads, handwritten, in green ink, an autobiographical sketch of Louis', which predates 'Satchmo; My Life in New Orleans', and goes up to 1930. But it's consistent with what's in Satchmo.
"We did not make up things, but there are, of course, some different anecdotes in there, and it's another version. It's wonderful. We were terribly pleased to get it, and the person who helped us get this was John Chilton. At the time he still had his bookshop. He found out about this Goffin estate from a Belgian dealer."
Our conversation turns to dealers. Dan wants to emphasise that nothing here is for sale. Some of the items here could be sold a thousand times over. Really rare and elegant items would surely be greatly sought after, almost priceless. For example, Dan tells me that whenever phonograph collectors view the archive, they always want to buy the Lampophone. I'm not surprised.
"There is tons of music, all kinds. Almost all the Boyd Raeburn library, stuff by George Handy, Johnny Richards. All the stuff from the late lamented American Jazz Orchestra, which was run by John Lewis and Gary Giddins, they commissioned a lot of stuff, in addition to doing recreations.
"The National Jazz Ensemble was a repertory group that Chuck Israels had many years ago. Many thousands of stock arrangements dating back to the early 1920s, which we got from John Steiner. Stocks from the Swing Era, also some Don Ellis material, some scores.
Ed Kirkby was Fats Waller's last manager, also the founder and manager of the California Ramblers. We got all his papers, including tons of Fats Waller materials, with some unpublished music which has been classified and analysed by a Waller expert, and written about in our Annual Review of Jazz Studies. We hope to do something with it for the upcoming Waller centennial, which will be in 2004.
Lots of materials about the California Ramblers - scrapbooks, beautiful photos of Adrian Rollini, and so on. Lots of Waller photos. We have now put some up on our web site. There are thousands of scores, which we make available to bands, whether they be college bands, part-time big bands, etc.
"Roger Wolfe-Kahn, 20s bandleader, co author of Crazy Rhythm, his stuff came to us. He died in the mid-fifties. It was kept in pristine condition. All these scores, including a couple in the hand of Glenn Miller, and several more by Artie Schutt. Kahn was the son of Otto Kahn, who was a millionaire, one of the principal backers of the Metropolitan Opera, and bought his son a band, so to speak. Roger played saxophone and clarinet. He made a lot of records. All the records were there. Wonderful scrapbooks, in great condition. This collection existed for decades and nobody knew anything about it. His last recording band had a very young Artie Shaw in it, and Charlie Teagarden, and they made a couple of movie shorts, which have survived.
"Bill Spilka is a dedicated amateur video guy. He has interviewed hundreds of musicians on videotape, mostly brass players, but also others. He also videotapes services at St. Peters, which is like the jazz church in New York, where a lot of famous people have been buried, and other religious events take place there. Periodically he gives us these videotapes. There are hundreds of them, and it''s very generous of him."
Here Dan shows me a collection of 12" 78s, acetates, test pressings, cassettes, NPR programmes, and about fifty canisters of film. Francis Paudras' son generously gave all the film, which is Bud Powell stuff. The film 'Round Midnight', was lifted directly from Francis Paudras' memoir of Powell, 'Dance of the Infidels'.
"Dick Wellstood's tape collection which, God bless him, he indexed carefully and numbered, so we know what's what," he says. "Dick also annotated his own stuff; sometimes he will write: ''drunk!'' Some of that may be issuable, but as you know, a couple of performances by Dick have been issued on Arbors quite recently.
"Next our recording lab, which is a place where, in addition to other things, we can burn CDs, and transfer between formats. It''s not a recording studio, but we can fiddle around editing and dubbing. Vincent Pelote, our librarian, is also our audio expert.
"This room is now in its entirety devoted to what is, as you can see, an enormous collection, and that is the Mary Lou Williams collection. Mary was a saver. She never threw anything away, and when I say 'anything', I mean anything. When somebody is playing in a bar or restaurant, they get requests. They usually come written on a napkin. There's a whole box of napkins with requests on them. Some of the napkins still have food on them!
"She kept meticulous records. That makes sense. She was, for most of her life after she left Andy Kirk, except for maybe a year and a half when she worked for Ellington, a leader. In the case of Ellington we found out that quite a few arrangements that were not elsewhere credited to her, are hers. We know about Trumpet No End, which is hers. When she was married to Shorty Baker, she travelled with Duke. But other than that she was usually the leader of whatever musical activity she was involved in, so she kept meticulous records.
"When she performed her Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, which was a climactic event in her later career, there's a notation on how much she spent for cab fare, what she paid the musicians, and also that she had her hair done. This could be written off for taxes, because it's work-related. Receipts from when she was on the road with Andy Kirk, for having the uniforms cleaned for the band. She was kind of den mother, as well as being the musical director and pianist.
"Annie Kuebler is our archivist, whom we were able to hire on a grant awarded to catalogue and conserve and organise this collection, from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Annie's done a tremendous job of organising this Mary Lou Williams collection, as she did for the Ellington collection at the Smithsonian. Needless to say there''s lots of music.
Annie is introduced to me. She is helped by two work study students who are both on the Rutgers Masters Degree in Jazz History. Dan tells me that it's a unique course, now in its sixth year. Nowhere else is such a programme offered. Every student must have a solid musical background. 'To keep out critics,' jokes Dan. I suspect he's not really kidding.
"Stuff here goes back to Mary Lou's earliest professional engagements. Lots of correspondence. She was very pretty. Photographers loved her. Lots of photographs from famous photographer W. Eugene Smith. Mary Lou had a torrid affair with David Stone Martin. [David Stone Martin (1913-1992) was a prolific illustrator who created more than 400 classic album covers.] We have some original art work of his.
"Handbills here from Kansas City, battle of the bands. Stuff which is priceless. Telegrams. A lot of correspondence with Joe Glaser. She kept notebooks. Every day she would write a diary. We know how much she paid the bass player and drummer, and who they were, her rent, how much she gave to charity, how much she paid for newspapers, e.g. 'Sunday Papers, 35 cents.' Those were the days."
Annie Kuebler observes: "It's an amazing collection. The stuff came in 150 different boxes. I've been working on it for a year and a half, and every day it's something different."
We leave Annie's domain with here team devoted to working on the Mary Lou Williams material and wend our way back to Dan's office. In this part of the archive a series of abstract oil paintings graces the walls. The paintings are all the work of the late Pee Wee Russell, the clarinettist. As with everything else at the Institute of Jazz Studies, there''s a story.
"Mary, his wife, went to Macy's one day," explains Dan. "They had a sale on a complete paint set, with canvasses, and she bought the whole thing, She came home, dumped it in his lap, and said, 'Here, do something with yourself. Paint.'
So he looked at her.'Oh.' And he started doing it.
"Finally released, a few years ago, a little documentary film (Portrait of Pee Wee Russell, 1998) was made at the time when he was painting, by a film maker who, somehow or other, got Pee Wee to agree to do it. It shows him actually in the process of painting. And it's fascinating how he does it. He's totally unorthodox, just like his clarinet playing. But he really enjoyed it, and in a relatively brief period he produced upwards of about fifty canvasses. Much to his delight, he sold a few of them. Bob Haggart (the bassist), who was a painter, very conventional but very good, very nice landscapes and pastels, bought a painting of Pee Wee's. There were a few jazz-minded art collectors. Pee Wee really enjoyed doing it. But when Mary, his wife, died, he lapsed, started drinking again, and he just stopped.
"The paintings all had names. I suspect that some of the names were Mary's rather than Pee Wee's. This one is called Lightning on the Mountain. The other one is The Twins From Mars.
In the film of him working he has a cigarette in his mouth, and he's talking while he's doing it. But he keeps the canvas flat. When he first started he would keep the canvas in his lap. But he knows exactly what he wants to do, and he obviously had an eye for design. He claimed that he never went to a museum, didn't study with anybody. His friend George Wettling studied with Stuart Davis, and was very serious about it."
Davis (1892-1964) was a major American painter, who had his work exhibited alongside the work of Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock. He named his son (b. 1952) 'George Earl' after George Wettling and Earl Hines.
"This one hanging in my office, Lightning on the Mountain, is my favourite," says Dan. "It looks like a caterpillar. It reminds me somehow of Alice in Wonderland. But it's happy. I can look at that when I'm annoyed or something. It cheers me up."
It's early evening when we catch the subway back to Manhattan. With Dan I'm going to the Beacon Theatre to hear Birds of a Feather, a tribute to Charlie Parker featuring Roy Haynes (77 this year, and sparkling) with Kenny Garrett, Nicholas Payton, Christian McBride and Dave Kikoski.
In a wonderful concert, the band takes a broad and long historical view.
Just like Dan Morgenstern, in fact.
Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Gerry Mulligan, etc
Mary Lou Williams 'Roll 'Em', played by Benny Goodman