National Jazz Museum in Harlem

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem
Established 1995
Location 58 West 129th Street
Harlem, New York City, New York 10027
Coordinates 40°48′20″N 73°56′17″W / 40.8055°N 73.9380°W / 40.8055; -73.9380
Director Managing Director Jasna Radonjic Co-Artistic Director Jonathan Batiste Co-Artistic Director Christian McBride[1]

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem is New York City's museum dedicated to preservation and celebration of Harlem's jazz history. The idea for the museum was conceived in 1995. The Museum was founded in 1997 by Leonard Garment, Counsel to two U.S. Presidents, and an accomplished jazz saxophonist, Abraham D. Sofaer, a former U.S. District Judge who gave the initial gift in honor of his brother-in-law Richard J. Scheuer, Jr., and matching funds from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.[2] For more than 15 years the museum was based in East Harlem at 104 East 126th Street.

On February 1, 2016 the Museum re-opened in a new space on the ground floor of 58 West 129th Street in Central Harlem with approximately 1900 square feet of exhibition space.[3]

Programs and exhibits

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem's Visitors Center has featured exhibits such as "The Ghosts of Harlem" by American music producer, photographer, and author Hank O'Neal. The show included images of Harlem jazz legends that O'Neal had the chance to interview and photograph for his book of the same name. The Visitors Center also houses books, recordings, and documentaries for guests to enjoy as well as photographs of contemporary jazz musicians.

The museum hosts weekly programs such as the Harlem Speaks lecture series and Jazz for Curious Listeners sessions in which jazz novices and experts alike listen and learn about rare jazz recordings. The museum hosts events and programs at jazz venues and other museums such as the Rubin Museum of Art for the Harlem in the Himalayas concert series.

Jonathan Batiste has been working with the museum since 2008 when he helped create the program Jazz Is: Now! in which his Stay Human band plays and "he deconstructs jazz, walking people through the theory and history of the music, often with the help of guests." Batiste was named associate artistic director of the museum in 2012.[4]

The Savory Collection

In August 2010 The National Jazz Museum in Harlem acquired nearly 1,000 discs of recorded radio broadcasts made by audio engineer William Savory in the midst of the swing era in the 1930s. The collection includes performances by jazz luminaries such as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Benny Goodman. Savory had access to bigger, slower-playing aluminum and acetate records and he was able to record much longer clips, capturing extended live shows and jam sessions that many thought would be lost forever. The recordings are being digitized by Brooklyn-based recording engineer Doug Pomeroy, a specialist in audio restoration. The transformation involves cleaning, correcting pitch, removing extraneous noise, mixing and mastering. The Savory Collection has yet to be made public for legal reasons but curious listeners can attend listening sessions at the museum or make appointments to hear the recordings.

Board of Directors[5]


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