Concerts from the Library of Congress, 2017-2018

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2017 at 7:00 PM

Photo: John Szwed

Montpelier Room

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(tickets available 09/20/2017, beginning at 10 AM)

“Jelly Roll Morton in Washington”

John Szwed in conversation with Stephen Winick, American Folklife Center

Jelly Roll Morton’s wide-ranging activities in Washington in the 1940’s included hosting a “History of Jazz” radio program on station WOL-AM, attempting to form an interracial film company, promoting boxing matches, and working with African American world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson to develop auto racing ventures.  John Szwed’s Grammy-Award winning Doctor Jazz, published with the landmark Rounder Records box set Jelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library of Congress Recordings, provide fascinating background on Morton’s now-historic recording session on the Coolidge Auditorium stage.

A curated display of original Morton manuscripts—lead sheets from the Music Division’s collections—will be on display for this event.

Author, journalist and critic, John Szwed was Yale University’s John M. Musser Professor of Anthropology, African American Studies, and Film Studies for 26 years. He was formerly the Louis Armstrong Professor of Jazz Studies at Columbia University, and Editor-in-Chief of the website Jazz Studies Online.org. His eighteen books include acclaimed portraits of major figures in jazz, among them So What: The Life of Miles Davis; Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World; and Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth.

THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2018 at 7:00 PM

Photo: Robert G. O’Meally

Montpelier Room

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(tickets available 12/13/2017, beginning at 10 AM)

“Transblucency: Duke Ellington, The Wahingtonians, and the Realm of the Visual”

Robert G. O’Meally, Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English, Columbia University

O’Meally explores Duke Ellington’s decision to appear on film only as himself—as composer, bandleader, and pianist—never in any of the roles typically reserved for African Americans on the silver screen of his era. A few of Ellington’s first appearances on film will be on view, including Black and Tan Fantasy (1929), written and directed by the experimental film-maker Dudley Murphy, and Symphony in Black (1935). The Music Division will offer a curated display of Duke Ellington photographs, memorabilia and other items from its collections as part of this event.

Robert G. O’Meally is the Zora Neale Hurston Professor, Columbia University, and director of Columbia’s Center for Jazz Studies. An internationally recognized scholar of African American music and art in American culture. He has produced critically acclaimed books, recordings, exhibits and media projects focusing on both literature and music, and is also a curator for projects in film and the visual arts. His books include Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday, The Craft of Ralph Ellison, and Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey. He has also edited or co-edited a number of books, including The Jazz Cadence of American Culture, History and Memory in African American Culture, and The Norton Anthology of African American Literature.