Jazz: America's Music
The exhibition, arranged in roughly chronological order, opens with two classics: sheet music for Irving Berlin's "Puttin' on the Ritz" made popular by performer Harry Richman in a 1930 film by the same name, and a program from a 1924 concert given in London by Paul Whiteman and His Palais Royal Orchestra in which they premiered George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." Next is material from the Cab Calloway collection, including photographs of Cab and his band in performance, as well as promotional material related to the legendary Cotton Club, a handwritten set list, and manuscript sheet music for the "C. C. Boogie" composed by Calloway. Up next is lyricist Johnny Mercer, represented by photographs, printed material on Mercer, original lyric drafts, sheet music, and an acetate demo disc for "Shake It, Don't Break It" with music by Erroll Garner and lyrics by Johnny Mercer from 1971. Cafe Society is represented by photographs of Lena Horne, Hazel Scott, and Duke Ellington and his band in performance there. From the Center's Ella Fitzgerald collection come photographs of Ella in performance and the handwritten score to Buddy Bregman's "Bewitched" by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, autographed by Miss Fitzgerald. Jazz trumpeter/composer Don Ellis is represented with a reprint of a piece by Ellis on the avant-garde jazz scene that appeared in Down Beat Magazine, a photograph of Ellis in performance, and the conductor's score for Ellis' complex composition "The Great Divide." Artwork by jazz chronicler Stephen Longstreet includes printed postcards of Longstreet's renditions of several jazz greats, as well as an original portrait of Charlie Parker done from life.
A large-format photograph of singer Bing Crosby is accompanied by a handwritten letter from the singer to music critic Henry Pleasants. The representation of the multi-decade career of jazz singer Alberta Hunter begins with material related to the 1928 London production of "Showboat" in which Alberta as "Queenie" played opposite Paul Robeson as "Joe." There is a photograph of her from a USO performance from the 1944, as well as a photograph of her from her "comeback" when she was in her eighties. Also included is the sheet music to "I'm Walkin' the Chalk Line," with words and music by Alberta Hunter. The exhibition concludes with both manuscript and printed material by jazz critic Nat Hentoff.
This exhibition is no longer on view.