The Institute of Jazz Studies’ Ed Berger Wins Book Award from the Association of Recorded Sound Collections

Softly, With Feeling: Joe Wilder and the Breaking of Barriers in American Music named winner for Best Research in Recorded Jazz Music

The Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University–Newark is delighted to announce that special projects consultant and former associate director Ed Berger has won the book award for Best Research in Recorded Jazz Music from The Association for Recorded Sound Collection. Berger’s book, Softly, With Feeling: Joe Wilder and the Breaking of Barriers in American Music (Temple University Press, 2014), brings to light the story of trumpeter Joe Wilder and is a superb, readable biography built on an incredible amount of research.

Tracing Wilder’s remarkable story from his youth in working-class Philadelphia to his career as a world-class jazz and classical musician, Berger positions his accomplishments within the broader context of American musical and social history. This dazzling account explores how Wilder broke down racial barriers, whether as one of the first 1,000 black Marines during World War II or as the first African American to hold a principal chair in a Broadway show orchestra.

“Writer/photographer Berger's approach in this biography encompasses not only Wilder's career, but also offers a vivid and well-researched depiction of both jazz and Broadway orchestras and a picture of the unheralded musician that is fascinating reading,” notes Library Journal. “Berger's highly readable account is clearly an overdue testament to the performer's skills and accomplishments. . . . [T]his wonderful book should be read by anyone interested in jazz or classical music; it belongs in every library.”

In its review, Notes says, “Softly, with Feeling provides a valuable resource for jazz and American music researchers, supplying a wealth of important detail, not only on the individual career path of this highly accomplished yet largely unrecognized musician, but also on the day-to-day professional challenges more generally faced by African American musicians in the twentieth century.”

Begun in 1991, the ARSC Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research are presented to authors and publishers of books, articles, liner notes, and monographs, to recognize outstanding published research in the field of recorded sound. In giving these awards, ARSC recognizes outstanding contributions, encourages high standards, and promotes awareness of superior works. The winners will also be acknowledged at the awards ceremony at the ARSC national conference in Bloomington, Indiana, May 12-14, 2016.

Photo of Ed Berger courtesy of Ed Berger