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January 11, 2006
Jelly Roll Morton Celebration Kicks Off Library of Congress Symposium on Alan Lomax
Symposium Includes Panel Discussions and Concerts
The American Folklife Center and the Music Division at the Library of Congress, in conjunction with the Kennedy Center, will present a special program celebrating the life and music of Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton and the release of "Jelly Roll Morton - The Complete Library of Congress Recordings" by Alan Lomax (Rounder Records) at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 18, in the Coolidge Auditorium, ground floor, Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The program is free and open to the public.
The program, featuring jazz scholar John Szwed and pianist Dave Burrell, will focus on a landmark 1938 recording session where Morton sat down at a piano in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium to record not only a large repertoire of jazz, blues and folksongs but also the first oral history of jazz. Seated nearby, asking questions and operating a small portable disc recorder, sat Alan Lomax, a 23-year-old assistant-in-charge of the Library’s Archive of American Folk Song. Lomax’s 1938 recordings are the basis of the Rounder box set, which has been nominated for two 2005 Grammy awards—one of them for Szwed’s liner notes.
The noontime celebration launches a three-day symposium, Jan. 18-20, titled "The Lomax Legacy: Folklore In a Globalizing Century." The symposium will bring together a diverse gathering of scholars, cultural historians and media producers who will reflect upon the life and work of Lomax (1915-2002). The symposium is an initiative of the American Folklife Center and the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE), New York. ACE was founded by Alan Lomax and is currently directed by his daughter, Anna Lomax Wood. For additional details, including a schedule of events and registration information, visit www.loc.gov/folklife/lomax/lomaxlegacy.html.
In 2004 the American Folklife Center acquired the Alan Lomax Collection, which comprises the unparalleled ethnographic documentation collected by the legendary musical anthropologist and folklorist over a period of 70 years. The acquisition was made possible through a cooperative agreement between the center and the Association for Cultural Equity at Hunter College and the generosity of an anonymous donor. With this acquisition, the collection joins the material that Lomax and his father John collected during the 1930s and early 1940s for the Library’s Archive of American Folk Song, thus bringing the entire collection together for the first time at the Library of Congress.
Szwed, author of "Space is the Place: Sun Ra’s Life on Earth" (1997) and "So What: The Life of Miles Davis" (2002), is researching and writing a biography of Lomax. His essay on Lomax and Morton, "Doctor Jazz," is included in the Morton box set.
Burrell has recorded with such noted musicians as Archie Shepp, David Murray and Pharoah Sanders. His more than 20 recorded albums include "Jelly Roll Joys" (Gazell Records 2003), a solo piano tribute to Jelly Roll Morton released in 1991.
The Lomax symposium continues with a performance by the National Chorus of the Church of God and Saints of Christ at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19, in the Coolidge Auditorium. The performance is free and open to the public; tickets are available on a first-come, first served basis.
The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in the Library in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world. For more information visit the Center’s Web site at www.loc.gov/folklife/.
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