Mellon Foundation Grant to Rutgers Jazz Institute

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Collections of Benny Carter, Benny Goodman will be digitized

EDITOR’S NOTE: To arrange an interview with Edward Berger, please contact Carla Capizzi, 973/353-5263, or email: 


(Newark, N.J., Jan. 27, 2009)  —  A two-year, $296,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will help the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) share two rare jazz collections with researchers around the world, in fields ranging from music to history to political science, and more. 


The IJS is part of the Dana Library and the Rutgers University Library system, and is the world’s largest jazz archive.  The IJS will use the grant to digitize two of its most significant bodies of sound recordings: the Benny Carter and Benny Goodman Collections. When completed in 2011, the materials will provide benefits far beyond the obvious advantages for jazz scholars, explains Edward Berger, principal investigator for the grant and associate director of the IJS.  “All scholars will gain new insights into the careers of two of jazz’s greatest instrumentalists and bandleaders,” notes Berger. “Also, Carter’s and Goodman’s careers intersected many other important figures, and traversed many varied areas of American culture, including race relations, the film industry, the recording studios, radio and television, the academy, and even international diplomacy,” he explains.  “So this material will serve as primary source material for a wide range of specialists in many other fields.”

The Carter Collection comprises Carter’s personal archive and contains many unique performances, interviews, and documentation of events in Carter’s professional life.  Carter himself donated many of these materials to the Institute; his wife, Hilma, donated the remainder shortly after Carter’s death in 2003. Carter was one of jazz’s most important and multifaceted talents. As a soloist, he was a model for swing era alto saxophonists and was nearly unique in his ability to double on trumpet, which he played in an equally distinctive style.  As an arranger, he helped chart the course of big band jazz, and his compositions, such as “When Lights Are Low” and “Blues In My Heart,” are jazz standards. 

But Carter also made major musical contributions to the world of film and television as one of the first black arrangers/composers to penetrate the Hollywood studios, and was a guiding force in the racial integration of the musicians unions.  His musicianship and personality won him the respect of fellow artists and audiences on every continent.  Carter was a strong supporter of IJS, and in 1987 he created an endowment to assist jazz researchers, which has helped more than 60 students and scholars.

The Goodman Collection represents the most complete collection of Goodman recordings in the world. It consists entirely of reel-to-reel tapes compiled by Goodman biographer/discographer D. Russell Connor over four decades; Connor donated the collection to IJS in 2006.  As a friend and confidant to Goodman, Connor had access to the clarinetist’s personal archive, as well as those of many Goodman researchers and collectors worldwide. The unissued or rare recordings selected for digitization as part of this project total approximately 404 hours.

Goodman (1909-1986) was the symbol of the Swing Era, when jazz was for a time both high art and America’s popular music.  Goodman was a clarinet virtuoso, proficient in classical music as well as jazz, and a bandleader whose orchestras helped spread big band jazz around the world.  He also made a major contribution to civil rights by hiring black musicians Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton to perform with him in the mid-1930s.  A musical perfectionist, he set the highest standards for himself and for the musicians who played with him in a career spanning seven decades.

To arrange an interview with Edward Berger, please contact Carla Capizzi, 973/353-5262, or email: 


Media Contact: Carla Capizzi