Jazz Singers Exhibit

DSCN8595I’ve had the great pleasure and privilege of curating the new Jazz Singers exhibit at the Library of Congress. I’m grateful to all my colleagues in the Music Division and the Interpretive Programs Office for help and support during the months leading up to our Feb. 11 opening. Special thanks goes to Exhibition Director Betsy Nahum–Miller for keeping us focused and on schedule. Betsy and I are now working on a version of the exhibit we’ll send out to Disney Hall in Los Angeles in the Fall.

I’m pleased to report that we got a nice early boost from the New York Times when they posted a preview, then Milenio, the national newspaper in Mexico, weighed in. I was especially pleased when Will Friedwald, who has written several important books on jazz singers, came to Washington to view the exhibit and and for context spent time delving into more of the jazz treasures in our special collections. Will then returned to New York and wrote this insightful, perceptive review for the Wall Street Journal.  Continue reading

Celebration of Max Roach

Near the end of 2012, the Library of Congress acquired the papers of drummer, composer, bandleader, activist and educator Max Roach. The collection is massive, comprising more than 100,000 items including scores, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, and business papers, in addition to audio and video recordings. To announce the acquisition, the Library invited the five children of Max Roach; Daryl, Maxine, Raoul, Dara and Ayo, along with Janus Adams Roach and poet Sonia Sanchez to help discuss and celebrate the legacy of Max Roach. Finding Aid for the collection is here.

This webcast was shot for archival purposes.

Jazz Conversation with Jim Hall

Guitarist Jim Hall gave a concert with Steve LaSpina and Joey Baron at the Library of Congress on March 20, 2009. It was his first public performance since recovering from back surgery the year before. Hall graciously agreed to sit and talk a while just before sound check. The studio lighting was a bit harsh that day but the insights flowed as his story unfolded.

David Amram talks about hanging with Charlie Parker

David Amram talks about the 1950s jazz scene in Washington D.C., including the story of Charlie Parker visiting his apartment, hanging out in his kitchen and “scarfing” down a crazy omelet. The telling of this story took place following the screening of Larry Kraman’s new documentary film “David Amram: The First 80 Years” at the Library of Congress, April 25, 2011.

William Cepeda plays the conch shell

Tonight I showed Louise Ernst’s film “El Trombon de Bomba” at the Library of Congress Jazz Film Series. The 2002 documentary–a multi-layered portrait of Puerto Rican trombonist and composer William Cepeda– was shot in New York, Paris and his hometown of Loiza, PR.  For the free screening, Cepeda came down from Brooklyn to introduce the film and take questions after. Let’s just say it was not your typical introduction. He spoke briefly, then played his conch shell and engaged the audience in a bit of call & response. Thanks, William!