[Dixielandjazz] Fw: Pieces of Jazz History Head to Auction Block

LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing sign.guy at charter.net
Thu Jan 20 13:04:22 PST 2005

A couple of years ago I visited the KC Jazz museum.  I recommend it if you
have awhile to sit and listen.  They have computerized "Juke boxes" that
have thousands of tunes.  In addition to a lot of Jazz memorabilia including
Charlie Parkers plastic sax, although it's not as prominently displayed as
It should be.  They have some interesting sheet music displayed.  The Dayton
Air Museum has one of Glen Miller's trombones.  The KC museum takes about an
hour to see in a walk through and could take the rest of your life to listen
to all the tunes.  Go to the air museum to see airplanes,  the trombone
isn't anything special.  Too bad they didn't do a more in depth display.
It's been awhile since I was there so they may have changed things.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Stan Brager" <sbrager at socal.rr.com>
To: "Duke-LYM" <duke-lym at concordia.ca>; "DJML"
<dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Thursday, January 20, 2005 11:11 AM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Fw: Pieces of Jazz History Head to Auction Block

Coming up next month is an auction of jazz artifacts - see the New York
Times article below. Does anyone know if there are any Ellington memorabilia
to be auctioned?

Stan Brager
----- Original Message ----- 
> Pieces of Jazz History Head to Auction Block
> January 20, 2005
> There is Charlie Parker's King alto saxophone, with
> mother-of-pearl keys, his primary horn in the 1950's. There
> is Benny Goodman's clarinet, John Coltrane's soprano and
> tenor saxophones, Gerry Mulligan's baritone. Thelonious
> Monk's tailored jacket. A ribald 27-page letter from Louis
> Armstrong to his manager. One of Ornette Coleman's
> notebooks from the late 1950's, with his practice exercises
> and, on one of the last pages, one of his greatest
> compositions, "Focus on Sanity," written in pencil. Home
> movies of Coltrane shoveling snow outside his house in
> Philadelphia in the late 1950's. Charlie Parker concert
> recordings made by his wife, Chan, and high school book
> reports by Monk.
> On Feb. 20 at the Allen Room in Jazz at Lincoln Center's
> Rose Hall, Guernsey's Auction House will put all these
> items, and many others, on the block at a special jazz
> auction. Previews will be held on Feb. 18 and 19, but
> Guernsey's would not estimate how much the auction will
> make.
> "It would be folly to try to come up with a number," said
> Guernsey's owner, Arlan Ettinger. Very few of the lots have
> reserves - the secret minimum prices agreed upon by the
> sellers and the house. Nor is the house listing estimates
> in its catalog.
> Jazz artifacts have been auctioned before, through
> Christie's and Sotheby's, but there has been no single
> auction of this size entirely dedicated to jazz. And though
> there have been jazz collectors of one kind or another
> since the 1930's, it seems to have taken many of the
> families of jazz's royalty this long to dislodge the once
> mundane items, long buried in closets, that now have great
> value not only to jazz aficionados but also to the larger
> community of collectors.
> But just because these memorabilia are now turning up at a
> public auction does not mean they will end up in public
> hands, at least not right away.
> Instruments and sheet music have entered the collections of
> institutions like the Smithsonian and the Institute of Jazz
> Studies at Rutgers University - the country's greatest
> academic center for jazz studies - which preserve them and
> make them available for scholars. (The city of Kansas City,
> Mo., owns one of Parker's plastic alto saxophones, sold at
> auction by Sotheby's in 1995 for around $140,000, and it
> has become the centerpiece of the town's American Jazz
> Museum. The University of Wisconsin owns the bass that
> belonged to the great Ellington bassist Jimmy Blanton and
> occasionally lets students play it.) But institutions,
> which have limited budgets and often rely on donations by
> the artists' families to acquire material, may not have the
> money to buy many of the items at Guernsey's auction.
> Instead the pieces may be bought by collectors of modest
> means who dearly cling to their scraps of history, perhaps
> without giving them proper care. Or they might be acquired
> by wealthy collectors who eventually lose interest in them
> and, after death, release them to museums.
> "If I were to guess," Mr. Ettinger said, "sooner or later,
> the majority of this material will end up in museums. But
> it could take a decade."
> In the Smithsonian's collection lie reams of unpublished
> Duke Ellington music, Lionel Hampton's vibraphone and Ella
> Fitzgerald's entire archive, among thousands of other
> items. In nearly every case, the material was donated.
> "We'd love to have some of these things in this auction,"
> said John Edward Hasse, the Smithsonian's curator of
> American music. "But we don't get a penny from the federal
> budget for acquisitions. So we rely heavily on the good
> will, generosity and public spiritedness of musicians and
> their families."
> Alice Coltrane, the widow of John Coltrane, is the source
> for much of the Coltrane material in the auction, including
> the saxophones and paperwork. In a telephone interview
> yesterday, she said she had been approached by several
> museums in the past, including the Smithsonian, but the
> circumstances had never seemed right for her to donate
> material.
> "We got a letter about this auction in New York," she
> explained, "and I had never before considered anything like
> that. All of the instruments that we have are kept here in
> our family. But once I thought it through, I thought it
> would be O.K. if we presented some of the memorabilia."
> Some of the proceeds, she explained, will go to the John
> Coltrane Foundation, a fund that has supported young jazz
> musicians for 18 years by giving them scholarships to music
> schools. Some will go to Jowcol, the Coltrane publishing
> company; some to her own charities, including churches and
> hospitals in Los Angeles and Detroit, the Red Cross, and a
> small school for orphaned children in Puttaparthi, India,
> near Madras. She still expects at some point, she said, to
> strike a deal with the Smithsonian.
> One auction piece from Ms. Coltrane's house in California -
> the original sheet-music sketches for Coltrane's 1964 suite
> "A Love Supreme," among the most important works in jazz -
> bears explicit notes and markings in Coltrane's hand.
> ("Make ending attempt to reach transcendent level"; "Rising
> harmonies to a level of blissful stability at end"; "Last
> chord to sound like final chord of 'Alabama.' ") These two
> pages, which have never been seen by scholars, aren't just
> a curio: they will affect scholarship.
> Many objects are more important than they seem at first
> glance, revealing something about an artist's early
> interests, his psychology or the culture of the times. Also
> in the Coltrane collection is a fifth-grade school
> scrapbook, solemnly emblazoned in cut-out block letters
> with the words "Negro History Book," which indicates who
> made an impression on him in the 1930's. In it, he copied
> out poems by Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson, and
> pasted pictures of black entertainers like the Dancing
> Nicholas Brothers, Marian Anderson and Fletcher Henderson,
> as well as the etiquette teacher Charlotte Hawkins Brown.
> In Monk's school essay books, from 1933 (he was 15), there
> is a book report on "A Tale of Two Cities," an essay in an
> exquisite, old-fashioned serif-spangled hand about why
> Boys' Life is his favorite magazine, and one on the topic
> of good newspaper journalism. And in the left cuff of one
> of his tailored jackets, sewn in gold thread, is the phrase
> "Crepé Scole With Nellie." It refers, via a misspelling, to
> his tune "Crepuscule With Nellie," written for his wife,
> Nellie. That Monk would stash a secret phrase to himself in
> a hidden place says something about the hidden compartments
> of his character and his great affection for his wife.
> "My hope is that the purchasers are the more sharing
> institutions and collectors," said the jazz historian Phil
> Schaap, who helped Guernsey's evaluate the objects. "Things
> tended to go more to repositories until recently. Which
> means, to me, the suggestion that repositories don't have
> the money to buy these things." He paused. "The pageantry
> of it, though, is pretty impressive," he said. "It's all
> going to be in one room."
> Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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