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Dan Morgenstern - Institute of Jazz Studies

Institute of Jazz Studies

A Tour of the Institute of Jazz Studies

Dan Morgenstern, past Director of the Institute of Jazz Studies offers a tour of the facilities, on the campus of Rutgers University in Newark, NJ.

Transcript - highly recommended, with annotations by Hank Hehmsoth

Marshall Winslow Stearns was an American jazz critic and musicologist. He was the founder of the Institute of Jazz Studies. 
Born: October 18, 1908, Cambridge, MA  |  Died: December 18, 1966, Key West, FL
Marshall Winslow Stearns


"a gold mine of history and archives ..."

The long aisles of tall shelves stretch all the way across the wide climate-controlled room, packed tight with records and CDs. If heaven has a radio station, its music library must look like this. It is the silent sanctuary at the heart of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University–Newark, the world’s largest archive of jazz history.

The institute has long been known as the place where scholars and musicians come to wade in the deepest streams of jazz history. It is where Ken Burns’s researchers had 30,000 photographs to choose from when searching for images for the PBS documentary series Jazz. It is where Gunther Schuller had 100,000 recordings to consult when writing his magisterial The Swing Era. It is home to Lester Young’s tenor saxophone, Miles Davis’s trumpet, Eddie Condon’s four-string guitar, and 170 boxes of Mary Lou Williams’s papers.

It started as a private archive in the Greenwich Village apartment of Marshall Stearns, a Harvard scholar, and moved to the basement of the John Cotton Dana Library at Rutgers University–Newark in 1966. As the collection grew, it moved to a first-floor space in Bradley Hall and then, in 1994, back to Dana Library, up to its present, more inviting home on the fourth floor.

For most of its life at Rutgers, from 1976 to 2012, the institute’s director was Dan Morgenstern, a figure so revered in the jazz world—the former editor of Down Beat magazine, winner of an  armload of Grammy Awards for album notes, author, encyclopedic repository of lore and arcana—that it took three years and two men to finally replace him: Wayne Winborne as executive director and Vincent Pelote as director of operations.

Morgenstern put together one of the most remarkable of all jazz collections. It is in his role of establishing the important library, along with his countless, consistently informative liner notes that Dan Morgenstern has made his greatest contribution to jazz.

_Institute-of-Jazz-Photo Collage

Photo collage of Jazz institute

Images from the left: bassist Christian McBride, Lester Young’s tenor saxophone, former director Dan Morgenstern (left) with musician Wynton Marsalis, the Edison Diamond Disc phonograph, saxophonist Scott Robinson, drummer Kenny Washington, and bassist Mimi Jones.

Photography: courtesy of Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University–Newark

Story by Kevin Coyne - Rutgers Magazine Fall 2015

1959 photo w Louis Armstrong

A rare Maynard Frank Wolfe photo. 

Left to right: Louis Armstrong, Paul Gonzalves, Clark Terry, Gene Krupa, Trummy Young, Quentin “Butter” Jackson, George Shearing, Gus Johnson, IJS founder Marshall Stearns with young Dan Morgenstern, TV rehearsal in January 1959!

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