Tag: jazz (page 1 of 5)

Eubie Blake 130

The Loeb Music Library holds several artifacts relating to the American pianist and composer Eubie Blake, born February 7th, 1887 in Baltimore.

In this portrait of Blake as a child, he poses on the steps of a  Baltimore home with his friend Howard “Hop” Jones and a dog. The original photograph, by an unidentified artist,  is thought to have been made in approximately 1899. The Music Library’s gelatin silver print reproduction dates from the 1970s.

Reproduction of photographic portrait of musician Eubie Blake and childhood friend Howard "Hop" Johns, 1899.

Howard “Hop” Johns and Eubie Blake, Merritt Room

We have three unusual dyeline reproductions of Blake’s manuscript scores: a ragtime piece for piano entitled Baltimore Todolo, as well as two songs from Chocolate Dandies, Blake’s moderately successful 1924 production with lyricist Noble Sissles (an earlier Sissles and Blake enterprise, Shuffle Along, was a hit and launched the careers of many significant black performers, including Paul Robeson and Josephine Baker).

Our copy of Baltimore Todolo is inscribed by the composer: “Not so easy to play, but if you practice you’ll like it, E.B.”

Dyeline manuscript copy of Eubie Blake's The Baltimore todolo.

Mus 630.133.405, Merritt Room

And Thinking of You, from Chocolate Dandies, is also inscribed: “Compliments of Eubie Blake to Mrs. Peggie Smith.”

Dyeline manuscript copy of Eubie Blake's Thinking of you.

Mus 630.133.606, Merritt Room

Smith and her husband, William, were fans who became devoted correspondents of Blake’s. Blake’s letters to the Smiths, along with Blake memorabilia the couple collected such as newspaper clippings and concert programs, make up the small and unique collection Eubie Blake Papers. Some letters from Blake’s lifelong collaborator, Shuffle Along leading man Ivan Harold Browning, are also found in this collection, as are first-edition scores, but mainly the papers are a warm and newsy correspondence between Blake and these fortunate fans.

Letter from Eubie Blake to William B. and Peggy Smith, dated 18 January 1970, postmarked Brooklyn, New York.

Ms. Coll. 105, Merritt Room

Song from Eubie Blake's Shuffle along, 1921.

Ms. Coll. 105, Merritt Room

One last extraordinary Eubie Blake item in our library is this one-page note to the composer and arranger William Grant Still.

Letter from Eubie Blake to William Grant Still, written 9 February 1959, Brooklyn, New York.

ML 410.B6247 A4 1959, Merritt Room

Isham Memorial Library is the special collections unit within the Loeb Music Library. Many of its materials are in open stacks, with rare and unique items held in the locked Merritt Room. To view Merritt Room materials, use your Special Collections Request Account. As Isham is not always fully staffed it is advisable to wait for a confirmation message from a staff member before you plan your visit.

Bringing Jazz to Harvard: a personal and institutional history

The Isham Memorial Library is pleased to announce that The Tom Everett Collection of Jazz Scores, 1971-2011 is cataloged and open for research.

The collection contains scores, promotional materials, photographs and correspondence from Tom Everett‘s forty-two years at Harvard University. Director of the Harvard Jazz Band from 1971 to 2013, Everett taught the first jazz courses for academic credit at Harvard, beginning with a course through the Harvard Extension School in 1973; his course “The Jazz Tradition” was cross-listed in the Departments of Music and African and African American Studies beginning in 1978.

Included in the Everett Collection are original scores, many arrangements and ephemera from such luminaries as saxophonist Joshua Redman, class of 1991 (Redman toured the Dominican Republic with the Jazz Band in 1988, performing an unaccompanied solo version of In the Mood), composer and pianist Dave Brubeck (the collection contains a 1983 letter to Everett in which the composer of Jazz Goes to College requests academic advice from Everett on behalf of his college-bound son Darius), pianist Teddy Wilson (who in 1935 was the first musician of color to play in Benny Goodman’s band) and several dozen more.

The materials relating to the 1996 residency of trombonist J.J. Johnson are particularly moving, and representative of both the variety of the items in the collection and of the personal vibrancy of Tom Everett. The following introduction to the Johnson materials in the Everett collection was written by former Assistant Keeper of Isham Memorial Library Douglas Freundlich and jazz scholar Michael Heller for an exhibit they created in 2011.

Ms. Coll. 135, Box 7

Ms. Coll. 135, Box 7

“A trombonist himself, Everett had long idolized the bebop master, faithfully collecting his scores and recordings. The two first met during the 1980s through Everett’s work with the International Trombone Association. When originally invited to do a residency, the shy Johnson was hesitant, and only after five years of coaxing did Everett persuade him to visit. The handwritten excerpt of Johnson’s opening remarks makes reference to Everett’s tenacity in bringing him to the university. The residency solidified their friendship, with Johnson asking Everett to conduct several pieces on his final album, The Brass Orchestra (1997). The two remained close friends until Johnson’s death in 2001.

Ms. Coll. 135, Box 7

Ms. Coll. 135, Box 7

“The photo of Johnson with the band attests to his wry sense of humor. Before the concert, Johnson telephoned Everett with two questions. First, he asked what the band wore during performances, to which Everett responded that the band wore black tuxedos. Next, he asked about the ethnic composition of the band. Here, Everett responded that the band was mostly made up of white musicians, though he regretted that there were not more interested African American students. On the night of the concert, Johnson arrived wearing a ‘reverse’ tuxedo, creating a mirror image of the band members and making a not-so-veiled political statement.

Ms. Coll. 135, Box 6

Ms. Coll. 135, Box 6

“The large handwritten score of his piece Quintergy was not performed at the initial residency, but was donated by  Johnson a year later for Harvard’s Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Jazz Retrospective. The piece was originally commissioned by the U.S. Air Force’s Airmen of Note. The first page contains extensive instructions stressing the role of the drummer in maintaining the energy of the piece.”

Ms. Coll. 135, Box 6

Ms. Coll. 135, Box 6

While access to the Everett Collection is unrestricted, please note that reproduction and/or publication of materials subject to copyright requires written permission from a) the copyright owner, her or his heirs or assigns and from b) the Loeb Music Library, owner of the original material.

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