The Institute of Jazz Studies is the world’s largest jazz archive and research facility.
Downtown Newark has long been known for its cultural venues. The New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark Symphony Hall, Prudential Center and Newark Museum of Art all call Newark home. However, there is a hidden gem located on the fourth floor of the John Cotton Dana Library on the downtown Newark campus of Rutgers University.
The world’s largest archive and research facility dedicated to jazz, the Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) is frequented by teachers, scholars, musicians, the media, record companies, arts agencies and even filmmakers. Home to more than 200,000 recordings in every format, some 6,000 books, journals and periodicals, and approximately 7,000 print and moving images, IJS also engages in programmatic activities for the community.
Wayne Winborne, executive director of IJS, says, “If you are a local resident and want to come in and hear your favorite jazz artist, we’ve got virtually everything that has ever been recorded commercially in jazz.” Beyond the music, the collection includes the papers of jazz giants such as Mary Lou Williams, Abbey Lincoln, Annie Ross, Benny Carter and James P. Johnson. IJS has Ella Fitzgerald’s favorite gown and wig, one of Louis Armstrong’s trumpets, and Lester Young’s saxophone. The centerpiece of the collection, papers and artifacts from William J. “Count” Basie, aka the Kid from Red Bank, and his wife, Catherine, includes photographs, artwork, home furnishings, apparel and Basie’s piano and organ. They were acquired in 2018.
IJS was founded in 1952 by Marshall Stearns, a jazz scholar, literature professor and author. It was originally located in his apartment at 108 Waverly Place in Manhattan. Stearns negotiated the transfer of IJS to Rutgers-Newark in 1966, but he died before the final transfer took place. In 1967, IJS materials were moved to Newark.
IJS’s mission is to foster an understanding and appreciation of jazz in our society. IJS also produces events in its jazz club, Clement’s Place, located at 15 Washington Street.
Says Winborne, “Clement’s Place was named after the late Dr. Clement Price. He was a dear friend, great historian, scholar, historian of the city of Newark, and distinguished professor of history at Rutgers-Newark.” Winborne says that, in the building that is now referred to as Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall, there were talks about plans for what had been the mock-trial courtroom: “It was Clem…who said we needed a place for the community, students, faculty and staff to gather,” Winborne says. After Price, a jazz lover, died, the “decision was made to create that space and call it Clement’s Place.”
Clement’s Place will have a full schedule of live performances this spring on most Wednesdays and Fridays. It is also hosting the recording and live-streaming of WBGO Jazz88 afternoon on-air host Keanna Faircloth’s monthly podcast. A performance schedule can be found on the Facebook pages for Clement’s Place Jazz and IJS.
Steve Adubato, PhD, is the author of five books including his latest, Lessons in Leadership. He is also an Emmy® Award-winning anchor on Thirteen/WNET (PBS) and NJ PBS. Check out steveadubato.org. Steve has appeared on CNN, FOX5 in NY and NBC’s Today show and his “Lessons in Leadership” video podcast with co-host Mary Gamba airs Sundays at 10 am on News 12+. Steve also provides executive leadership coaching and seminars for a variety of corporations and organizations both regionally and nationally. For more information, visit stand-deliver.com.
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