St. Edward's Establishes Jazz Archive with Large Collection of Recordings
The archive is one of the largest collections of jazz-oriented long playing records in Central Texas. Although predominantly composed of pre-1945 recordings, it also contains a number of works recorded after that time.
“When I decided to establish the archive, I thought it should be housed in Austin which is properly called the Live Music Capital of the World,” Meyer said. “I did not want the collection to be buried in the recesses of some large institution, gathering dust along with other donations that had been forgotten.”
The pre-1945 recordings feature the work of small groups led by, among others, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, King Oliver, Freddie Keppard, Bunk Johnson, Jimmie Noone, Johnny Dodds, and Henry “Red” Allen. There are also a large number of recordings of big bands led by Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, and Artie Shaw, among others. This part of the archive provides a detailed picture of the growth of small-group jazz from its early days in New Orleans, through its maturation in Chicago and New York — and the development of the Swing Era — up to the beginning of the Be-Bop period in jazz.
The post World War II recordings focus mainly on pianists who carried on the earlier traditions. Large sections are devoted to the work of Oscar Peterson, Andre Previn, Ray Bryant, Ralph Sutton, Derek Smith, Don Ewell, Thelonious Monk, Erroll Garner, and the postwar recordings of Art Tatum. Some of these recordings were made in solo performances, but most were made in a trio or larger setting with the other great musicians of the day.
Many of the more than 2,000 individual LPs have not been available for decades and have not been issued on compact discs. In addition, the archive contains almost all of the well-regarded three-record boxed sets issued by Time-Life Records and the rare, limited edition, early releases on the Mosaic label.
“I decided to donate my collection to St. Edward’s because I knew that the university would cherish it, treat it with respect, publicize its existence, and thereby make it known and available to students and members of the public who wanted to listen to this great music.”
This is only the first installment of the material that will eventually become part of the archive. Meyer also plans to donate a large collection of periodicals, ranging over the last 30 years. A collection of 1,300 CDs, biographies, histories and other books on jazz will eventually become part of the archive.