Exhibit Honors Al Grey and Ray Brown as Jazz Greats and Pioneers of Racial Equality
Tuesday, February 9 2010
Written by Donna Emert
MOSCOW, Idaho – Each year as part of the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival, the University of Idaho Library creates an exhibit featuring artifacts from its International Jazz Collections, one of the eminent jazz collections in the world.
Laura Guedes, University of Idaho archivist, created the 2010 exhibit with the goals of highlighting the IJC’s value, honoring the nation’s groundbreaking, status-quo shaking music, and clarifying jazz musicians’ unique and vital role in American history.
The exhibit serves as a snapshot, one that strongly suggests the bigger picture.
“I wanted to point to the importance of the collections as a source for the study and understanding of the history of jazz,” said Guedes. “For example, items from the Dizzy Gillespie Collection are now on loan at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
"I wanted also to note some aspects of Al Grey’s life not as well known to the public as is his unique plunger mute style," said Guedes. "That is, Al Grey’s Great Lakes experience: he joined the Navy in 1942 as a musician, which was a new experience for African Americans. Prior to that date, African Americans were relegated to employment as mess attendants or stewards. These black musicians were dispatched to various bases across the country. Al Grey went to Grosse Isle Naval Air Station in Grosse Point, Mich. The African American bands gained fame as Ambassadors of Goodwill, in that they helped to break down racial barriers.”
The Al Grey/Rosalie Soladar Memorial Collection was established in 2000 by Grey and Soladar, his friend and companion. The collection grew by about 40 cubic feet last year, through a generous donation by Ailene Eberhard, Soladar’s daughter. Soladar is remembered as a cherished, long time friend of the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival. She attended the 2009 event just months before her death, said Guedes. Al Grey was a festival favorite from 1987 to 2000, missing only one festival, in 1994, during that time. Grey died in 2000.
Iconic bassist Ray Brown performed and led clinics at the festival for 17 years, until his death in 2002.
The IJC enriches jazz scholars and inquisitive people around the world. When the library received the collection in 2007, they created a virtual museum (at http://www.ijc.uidaho.edu/
), providing an access point to IJC resources for the international community. The site received nearly a million hits in the first half of 2009 and continues to receive a significant number of visits each month.
“The purpose of the International Jazz Collections are not only to archive the music, but also to preserve this unique facet of our cultural history,’ said Lynn Baird, University of Idaho dean of Library Services. “The library exhibit that coincides with the festival is an educational tool, and a gesture to honor the relationship between these world-class musicians and the University.
"We are grateful that musicians of international stature, including Al Grey, have lent their names, their time and their expertise to the Jazz Festival, and to students of all age," said Baird. "And we are grateful that their family members and dear friends, like Rosalie and Ailene, have made these significant collections available. The library exhibit, and the International Jazz Collections, are products of that rich legacy and human connection.”
The University of Idaho’s International Jazz Collections include the collections of Lionel Hampton, jazz critic Leonard Feather and trombonist Al Grey, as well as items from the collections of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Conte and Pete Candoli, and many others.
To donate to the IJC, contact Lynn Baird at firstname.lastname@example.org
or at (208) 885-6534.
For 43 years at the University of Idaho, the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival has brought jazz masters together with elementary, junior high, high school and college students to share and celebrate this truly American art form. It has featured hundreds of musicians from around the world, including China, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Peru, as well as students from Canada, Japan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan. The 2010 Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival will take place Feb. 24-27, 2010. For more information, visit www.uidaho.edu/jazzfest
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. The university is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu
About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu