A visit to the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University

Archive for April 2012


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In this blog I will take you on a photo tour of the Institute of Jazz Studies in the John Cotton Dana Libary at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey.

From the lobby of the libary you need to take the elevator to the fourth floor, and upon emerging at that level this view is what you would see –

Rutgers University

Welcome to the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, the largest and most comprehensive library and archive of jazz and jazz-related materials in the world.

In the display windows you can see trumpets and saxophones that are part of the collections in the Institute, with these items from Roy Eldridge, Miles Davis, Don Byas and Lester Young.  We will look closer at them once we are inside.

the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers

You can see more of the fourth floor of the library as you walk toward the Institute of Jazz Studies (the entry is at the right).  At the left is one of the art galleries.  The plan here for this blog is to enter the Institute and tour the facilities.

 So, let’s head over to the door …

Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers Univesity

The sign, painted on the wall, acts as identifier and logo for the Institute and all the artifacts inside.

We can continue around the corner to the right to go to the door …

Institute of Jazz Studies

And it looks like Dan Morgenstern, long-time Director of the Institute, opening the door and welcoming us.

We first come to the desk inside the entry way.  It is a good idea to call first and make an appointment when you visit the Institute so that someone will be available to help you find the materials for your research.

Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University

That’s Charlie Parker in the large photo behind the desk.

There are displays of musical instruments just to the left of the door, the same ones we could see from outside through the windows.  Take a look to the left …

Institute of Jazz Studies

In this panarama you can see the front wall of the Institute, with the desk to the right and display cases to the left.

The displays are changed from time to time and in this view the instruments are mostly saxophones of jazz greats from the past.  Looking closer here is what you would see in the display cases:

Institute of Jazz Studies

The saxophone at the left was used by Don Byas, 1912 – 1972.  Here is a closer view of it:

Institute of Jazz Studies

This Dolnet tenor saxophone, made in France, was used by Don Byas, the erstwhile star of Count Basie’s band (he replaced Lester Young) and New York’s 52nd Street (he was in the Dizzy Gillespie group that introduced bebop in late 1943).

The trumpets to the right in this case belonged to Miles Davis (top) and to Roy Eldridge (bottom).

Institute of Jazz Studies

Institute of Jazz Studies

Miles Davis – 1926 – 1991. This custom-made and specially engraved Martin trumpet, a gift of Mr. Davis, is pitched in C rather than the more common B-flat, a configuration frequently encountered in classical music but rarely in jazz. Davis experimented with it after he’d begun to employ electronics.

Here are some views of the trumpet used by Roy Eldridge – 1911 – 1989 – Getzen trumpet with rhinestone-studded mouthpiece.

Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers

Institute of Jazz Studies

Insttute of Jazz Studies

In the case to the right of this one are two more saxophones of jazz greats.  The one to the left was that of Ben Webster – 1909 – 1973.

Institute of Jazz Studies

This French Selmer “Balanced Action” tenor saxophone, above, was made in 1938, the year before its owner, Ben Webster, became the first to be featured on this instrument in the great Duke Ellington Orchestra.  Dubbed “Ol’ Betsy” by its owner, it did not leave his side until his death.

The other saxophone in this case, shown below, belonged to Lester Young – 1909 – 1959.

Institute of Jazz Studies

This Conn tenor saxophone was the one used by Lester Young, the unique and seminal stylist fondly known as “Prez” during the key years when, as a star soloist in Count Basie’s band, he introduced a new way of playing his chosen instrument to the world and made those immortal records with Billie Holiday.  It was the great singer herself who dubbed him “Prez,” and he returned the compliment with “Lady Day”.  The plastic gardenia shown, a back-up in the event that a real flower was not available, was owned by Billie Holiday – 1915 – 1959.

Here is a view of another saxophone, this one from another jazz great: Benny Carter – 1907 – 2003 –

Institute of Jazz Studies

Other items include this grammy and a medal awarded to Benny Carter –

Institute of Jazz Studies

The above photo shows the Grammy awared to Benny Carter in 1992, Best Instrumental Composition, Harlem Renaissance Suite.

And below is the National Medal of Arts awarded to Benny Carter on 20 December 2000.

Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University

These are just a sampling from the many instruments and other artifacts from jazz greats that are housed at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University.

And there is more – opposite the instrument display cases stands a row of file cabinets containing print clippings on jazz and jazz musicians, as seen below –

clippings collectionNote the photos above the cabinets showing several jazz musicians, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Harry Carney, Benny Goodman, Lester Young, and others.  Among other things in the cabinets you can find information about Harry Carney, for example, the master baritone sax man in the Duke Ellington Orchestra for more than 50 years.  In a clipping from The Duke Ellington Society, New York Chapter, 18 April 1990, you learn that Harry Carney (4/1/1910 – 10/8/1974) joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra at age 16, where he played not only the baritone sax but occasionally alto sax, clarinet and bass clarinet.  According to the Ellington Society “Carney [was] in fact a jazz virtuoso of the highest rank.”

Among other things in the cabinets, the Institute has a Holiday Greeting Card from Harry Carney with his photo, as shown below:

Greeting Card from Harry Carney

And more … on many, many jazz musicians.

Nearby in the same room is the extensive collection of books and journals on jazz –

books and journals at the Institute

books at the Institute

This is the section on Louis Armstrong, showing 20 of the volumes featuring him that are in the collection.  If printed material exists on a jazz musician it is almost sure to be found in the collection of the Institute of Jazz Studies, where researchers come from around the world.

Perhaps the largest holdings at the Institute are recorded works of jazz, over a hundred thousand in various formats from 78, 45 and 33 rpm records to tapes and CDs and DVDs.  And of course there are listening booths for researchers to hear the sounds –


As you can see, there is equipment for listening to recordings in different formats.

The various formats – tape recordings –

tape recordings

more tape recordings

And discs of various types –

sounds on discs

LPs –

LP recordings

jazz LPs

And CDs –

sounds on CD

and many of them –

Jazz on CDs

Even the old 78 rpm discs are in the archive –

jazz on a 78 rpm disc

Check the label –

jazz on 78 rpm disc

and many of these 78 rpm records too –

jazz on 78 rpm records

An overview of the archive of jazz recordings –

archive of jazz recordings

Also in the archives are collections of artifacts and music from various jazz artists.  The largest collection at the Institute is that of Mary Lou Williams, a jazz great pianist/composer/arranger .  Stored in the back of the room shown above, the many archival boxes of materials from Mary Lou include music, written notes and also personal articles.  Some of these boxes are shown below –

Mary Lou Williams Collection

This is just one of the collections at IJS.  For example, the Charlie Parker collection includes concert programs, photographs, hand-written music and more.

The Charlie Parker Collection

Jazz musicians and jazz researchers from around the world visit the Institute to make use of such materials as these.  Music manuscripts are a favorite of many visitors, such as this sample from the Pete Rugalo Collection –

Music of Pete Rugolo

– – – and also this sample manuscript from the Don Byas Collection at the Institute –

Music of Don Byas

Another large collection consists of over 20,000 photos of jazz musicians, part of which has been digitized for both preservation and access –

Photos of Jazz Musicians

And more … you can see that if you are interested in jazz music and the artists who play this music, the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University is a good place to find materials as well as the music itself.  For more information you can look at the Institute web site at this URL:


Institute of Jazz Studies

360 degree view of the Institute


Written by Institute of Jazz Studies - Rutgers University

April 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Posted in Jazz, Music