The Jazz Loft, a music venue and museum located in Stony Brook Village, has recently completed an ambitious renovation project of its basement, now known as the “Coal Bin.”
The name is a salute to juke joints of the early 20th Century, such as Herb McCarthy’s Bowden Square which featured a basement space for music called the Coal Bin, which was literally located in the coal bin area of the building’s basement. The new Coal Bin at the Jazz Loft will serve as a functional work space as the Jazz Loft continues its mission of archiving and preserving Jazz history.
Funding for the project came from a $40,000 grant from The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, Inc. and a matching gift from Jazz Loft patron Dan Oliveri.
The Jazz Loft’s basement section was updated and transformed into a multi-use work space which will be utilized by Stony Brook University (SBU) student interns, who will begin an archiving, inventory project and digitalizing project of the more than 10,000 historical Jazz artifacts in the possession of the museum. The interns will be using a program designed by students enrolled in a very unique class at the University called “Benevolent Computing,” offered by the Department of Computer Science within the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The course is directed by SBU professor Tony Scarlatos and such as its name suggests, explores the phenomenon of how software applications can affect positive social change in the world.
“The Jazz Loft’s mission is dedicated to the preservation, education and performance of Jazz and we now have a fantastic workspace for us to properly archive and store our Jazz collection,” said Jazz Loft founder Tom Manuel. “It is an honor to have this project supported by the Robert David Lion Gardiner, which has also enabled us to preserve a part of our building that is 250 years old.”
According to Manuel, the museum currently possesses paper records, sheet music, personal possessions of Jazz legends past and present, posters, photos, diaries, manuscripts, programs, musical instruments, vinyl record collections and more that require cataloging and storage.
The Jazz Loft is located at 275 Christian Avenue in Stony Brook. Visit www.thejazzloft.org for further information.
Through March 13, The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook will sponsor a food collection to be donated to local food pantries. “Approximately 259,000 people on Long Island suffer from food insecurity and that includes 79,000 children. These numbers are just growing as we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is where you can help,” said Tom Manuel, founder of The Jazz Loft. “We may not be able to fill the Jazz Loft with people right now, but we can use the space to fill it with food!”
Non-perishable items can be dropped off at the Jazz Loft front receptacle anytime. Items needed include canned vegetables, canned soup, fruit, tomato sauce, mac n’ cheese, cereal, peanut butter & jelly, coffee, tea, hot cocoa, snack items (granola bars, fruit cups, fruit snacks, chips, etc.), or a $20 grocery store gift card (for fresh goods- milk, eggs, butter, fresh fruit, etc.)
Questions? Email [email protected]
By Thomas J. Manuel, D.M.A.
There’s that old saying that, “A picture speaks a thousand words.”
As I walk through the Jazz Loft lately I’m more mindful of the photos that are throughout our 6,000 square foot museum that is sadly idle and quiet these many months. I have some favorites, although they all speak to me in different ways. For me the photos speak stories of my friends and they remind me of our time together, albeit brief. They are also powerful reminders of this great lineage in Jazz that we who participate as musicians are all a part of.
When I pass the photos we have of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington I look at the youthful faces of my friends, who looked quite different when I knew them, and I repeatedly think to myself, “Wow, how amazing it must have been for them to share the stage and create music together with those giants!”
Born roughly two years apart, Ellington in 1899 and Armstrong in 1901 respectively, both had already lived through the first World War and they would go on to witness the Spanish Flu epidemic, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, and the turbulent 1960s and the Vietnam conflict.
One can read Louis Armstrong’s descriptions of his experience of the 1918 influenza pandemic firsthand as he remembers it in his 1954 memoir Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans. There he says: “Just when the government was about to let crowds of people congregate again so that we could play our horns once more the lid was clamped down tighter than ever. That forced me to take any odd jobs I could get. With everybody suffering from the flu, I had to work and play the doctor to everyone in my family as well as all my friends in the neighborhood. If I do say so, I did a good job curing them.”
Today Jazz musicians and artists in general are experiencing a complete and utter shutdown that literally hasn’t been seen since over a hundred years ago as Armstrong described. The question of course we’re all asking ourselves regardless of what walk of life we come from is, “How do I deal with this? What do I DO?”
One of the greatest American composers, Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington might be of inspiration and assistance to us as it was Duke Ellington who once said that, “A problem is a chance for you to do your best.” Put that little caveat together with some sage words of wisdom from old satchel mouth himself and you’ve got quite the collaboration of ideas— in the spirit of Jazz of course. Louis Armstrong’s own theory on how to solve those problems was that, “If lots more of us loved each other, we’d solve lots more problems.”
The music of these larger than life giants in Jazz continues to inspire us decades after their departure from the stage of life, but if one digs deeper (and ya gotta dig to dig, ya dig!?) you’ll find a type of inspiration that speaks to that deeper place in each of us. It speaks not just to the heart, but to the soul. It speaks not just about happiness, but of joy.
These are truly different things and Duke and Pops were not only in tune with them, they were absolutely vibrating with these truths. In fact, their generation was indeed one that was skilled in navigating problems. When I walk through the Jazz Loft and purvey these photos of youthful legends I can’t help but think about how skillfully, how successfully they fought their battles and wrestled their giants.
Vibraphonist Teddy Charles (actually Theodore Cohen, Teddy Charles was his stage name) had a father who discouraged music and was forced to change his name to gain entrance into the music business because his given name was too Jewish. Luckily his mother who had been a somewhat accomplished pianist and singer who dabbled briefly in early entertainment playing for silent movies and vaudeville encouraged her son’s musical journey. Charles would continue to compose, perform, arrange, record and produce, one of the first quintuple threats in the music industry alongside his pals Mingus, Trane, Monk, Bird, and a slew of others.
Pianist Jack Wilson was so poor that his parents literally couldn’t feed him so he was sent from Chicago at the end of the Great Depression to live with an aunt up north who had enough means to do so. Luckily for Jack there was a piano in the house which became his emotional outlet. He’d later join the army and would be appointed the director of the Third Army Area Band; the first black person to ever hold the position. Wilson would pursue college studies at the University of Indiana and go on to collaborate with Dinah Washington, Sammy Davis Jr., Sarah Vaughan and his trio would become the hard bop jewel in the crown of Blue Note Records.
If you pay the Jazz Loft a visit when we’re open again you can gaze upon the photos of others like Louis Jordan, Lester Lanin, Keely Smith, Arthur Prysock and Lloyd Trotman. Without even trying these individuals modeled their values and taught us what really was important. Forged by the struggles of their time they’d go on to become the grandfather of rock n’ roll, pioneering Grammy artists, civil rights workers, and to produce the soundtrack to the American experience during the 20th century. If you don’t recognize the names you’re sure to recognize the tunes: “Stand By Me”, “Let The Good Times Roll”, “From Here to Eternity” “That Old Black Magic” and if you’re old enough, remember “Let it Be Lowenbrau”?
There has never been another person like those mentioned prior. They were men and women of deep faith, undying love, tenacious conviction, profound insight and constant hope. They taught us that it can be easy to quit during difficult times without a strong and proper foundation, and in doing so showed us that hard work and living ones truth can build that foundation to withstand the hard times.
Their’s was a deeper message not to let anyone think less of you because you are young— to be an example to all in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, and so much more. Their example was one of seeing our problems as wondrous opportunities to do better, and most of all, to show love. They were, in a word, JAZZ. And if Jazz were a person, we’d all be a better person our selves for having them in our lives.
Author Tom Manuel is a Jazz historian, music educator, trumpet player and Founder and President of The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook. For more information, visit www.thejazzloft.org.
This article first appeared in Prime Times, a supplement of TBR News Media, on Jan. 28, 2021.
By Melissa Arnold
The holiday season is fast approaching, and it’s time to start thinking about that shopping list. But before you visit those online retailers and big box stores, consider supporting local businesses hit hard by this year’s closures and safety restrictions.
In the Three Village area, Gallery North has teamed up with their neighbors at The Jazz Loft and Three Village Historical Society for a festive holiday experience that has a little something for everyone on your list.
Each year, Gallery North celebrates local artists with Deck the Halls, a group exhibit and art sale. Now through Dec. 20, visitors can admire the work of more than 70 artists covering a variety of subjects and media. The sale includes over 100 pieces of art, with a range of prices making it easy to find a unique gift that fits any budget.
This year, Gallery North executive director Ned Puchner was eager to put together a larger, yet safe and festive event that could bring the community together again.
“Frankly, a lot of people are still understandably concerned about going out and shopping,” said Puchner. “We had a lot of success with the Farmers and Makers Markets over the summer, and one of our board members joked that while she didn’t do hot weather, she’d volunteer in a heartbeat for a winter event.”
The idea grew from there. Puchner reached out to Steve Healy, president of the Three Village Historical Society, and Tom Manuel, founder of The Jazz Loft, brainstorming ways they could collaborate.
They were inspired by the beautiful, timeless holiday markets in New York City, and decided to transform the historical society grounds into a marketplace of their own. The outdoor marketplace will open for four Saturdays after Thanksgiving, allowing local artists and vendors to set up shop in a festively decorated atmosphere.
Browse the gallery store for paintings, photography and sculptures, then shop outdoors for handcrafted pottery, jewelry, wood and metal creations, clothing, glassware, spice blends and much more.
Along the way, grab a bite to eat and some dessert or warm up with a hot drink from local food trucks.
“Throughout the pandemic we’ve been encouraging people to shop local and support local businesses as much as possible, because everyone is struggling. We can’t help everyone, but we all have ways we can chip in,” said Healy. “[The local organizations] have a great rapport, and we’re always looking for new ways that we can support one another.”
The Jazz Loft’s Equity Brass Band will perform a wide selection of New Orleans jazz standards along with jazzed-up versions of holiday classics. You’ll find them playing in their tent and parading through the grounds on market days as weather permits.
Over the summer, you may have seen the band marching through the streets on one of their Spirit Tours — musical appearances meant to uplift the community and provide cultural enrichment in a time where entertainment has been difficult, if not impossible.
“There’s been a blessing in all this — because we [musicians] are all out of work, people that normally don’t have the time to come and work with us are suddenly free. We’ve had great camaraderie develop from this experience,” Manuel said. “Jazz has always been the soundtrack of America. People have come up to us extremely moved to hear music after being cut off from art for nearly a year.”
At the core of the exhibit and holiday market is the desire to bring a little normalcy and good cheer to the season.
“It’ll give you a little taste of the holiday season while keeping people safe and socially distanced. It also supports local artists, musicians, chefs and entrepreneurs during a time that has been devastating for people who earn their livelihoods performing and creating,” Puchner said. “We want to renew our connection with the community and restore a spirit of togetherness. We’re all still here.”
The Deck the Halls exhibit is on display through Dec. 20 at Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket. The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. A virtual reception will be held via Zoom on Nov. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Participating artists for the Deck the Halls exhibit include:
Lucia Alberti, Kelynn Alder, Andrea Baatz, Fred Badalamenti, Steve Behler, John Benevento, Joan Branca, Sheila Breck, Nancy Bueti Randall, Natalie Butkevich, Esther Marie Caponigro, Donna Carey-Zucker, Joseph Cooke, Jody Cukier, Linda Davidson-Mathues, Julie Doczi, Daniel Donato, Michael Drakopoulos, Paul Edelson, Patty Eljaiek, Lily Farah, Meagan Flaherty, Kimberly Gerber, Ray Germann, Helaine Goldberg, Holly Gordon, Larissa Grass, Jan Guarino, Anne Katz, Marceil Kazickas, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Julianna Kirk, Randy Kraft, Barron Krody, Jillian Kron, Charles Lembo, LOVID, Mary Lor, Kathleen Massi, Michael McLaughlin, Meagan Meehan, Eleanor Meier, Olivia Menghini, Jim Molloy, Riley Mulligan, Annette Napolitano, Rhoda Needlman PSA, Gail Neuman, Susan Oliverio, Cynthia Parry, Mel Pekarsky, Alicia R. Peterson, Doug Reina, Brianna Sander, Oscar Santiago, Lori Scarlatos, Kate Schwarting, James Slezak, Judith Stone, Angela Stratton, Schery Markee Sullivan, Paul Thomas, Joanne Touch, Joe Ventimiglia, Mary Waka, Marlene Weinstein, Gil Yang, Patricia Yantz, Nicole Zinerco, and Stanley Zucker.
The Holiday Market will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 28, Dec. 5, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19 on the grounds of the Three Village Historical Society, 93 North Country Road, Setauket and Gallery North. Please note: Masks and social distancing will be required, and there will be no public restrooms.
For questions about the market or to register as a vendor, call 631-751-2676 or visit www.gallerynorth.org/holiday-market.
Tom Manuel, founder of The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, is always grateful when someone comes along and offers a helping hand, but during the pandemic, his gratitude is overflowing.
Before New York State’s mandatory shutdowns, the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation awarded The Jazz Loft a grant in the amount of $40,000 to match funds coming from local resident and patron Dan Oliveri.
The money is being used to renovate the southwest section of the basement, which is under the Old Stone Jug area of the venue. The undertaken has been dubbed Project Coal Bin, Manuel said. While the basement dates back to 1941, the Old Stone Jug was built in approximately 1770. The grant also covers equipment needed to archive information.
“What’s exciting is it’s going to be a multipurpose space where the grant was designed not just to redesign the space but to outfit it as an area that will be used for our archiving,” The Jazz Loft founder said.
He added that the Stony Brook University Department of Computer Science worked last year to design the computer programming for the archiving, which will open up doors for other grants in the future for additional archiving and preservation.
“It’s amazing how a group like the Gardiner foundation could allow so many great things to happen even indirectly after their grant is done,” he said.
He called RDLGF a lifeline for nonprofits and a “blessing for people on Long Island.” The admiration is mutual.
“The Jazz Loft is an exceptional organization that engages the community on many levels,” said Kathryn Curran, executive director of the RDLGF. “The adaptive reuse of their historic building brings new and inventive life to this early structure celebrating the history of jazz through performances and art and artifacts.”
While the grant process was lengthy, Manuel said it was an excellent experience for him where before the pandemic he sat in on a grant-writing workshop given by Curran, and was able to exchange ideas with others. He said it was inspiring to learn about grants and the bigger picture of the longevity of nonprofits and the history of Long Island.
“After a while you realize, wow, it’s not so much about me writing this grant anymore,” he said. “It’s about The Jazz Loft being here for 100 years. This is about being responsible with what has been entrusted to me.”
Manuel also praised RDLGF for the funds they granted to nonprofits during the pandemic. Curran said the board was aware of the new problems nonprofits faced in 2020, and in June the board members approved a limited reimbursement grant to historical societies. The grants were intended to help organizations cover expenses during unscheduled closings. In total, RDLGF awarded more than $63,000 to help pay bills over a three-month period.
As for Project Coal Bin, Manuel said work began a couple of months ago. He indicated before major construction could begin, the old drop ceiling had to be removed in the section of the basement, while the plumbing and the electrical system needed to be updated. Manuel said when a person is downstairs and looks up, the hand-hewn beams of the Old Stone Jug are now visible after 80 years following the removal of a plaster ceiling.
The section of The Jazz Loft is called the Old Stone Jug due to its facade and was added by philanthropist Ward Melville, who moved the structure from its original location and made it an addition to what was once the original Stony Brook firehouse. It was then used as the Suffolk Museum, the forerunner of The Long Island Museum. Before it was moved, the Old Stone Jug, through the decades, was utilized for town meetings, operated as a tin shop and was used to store molasses jugs.
Manuel said they named the new section of the basement the Coal Bin after a former establishment in Southampton called Bowden Square. The owner Herb McCarthy’s mother would cook southern food and play jazz music for Black patrons in the basement, called the Coal Bin, during a time when Southampton was segregated.
Manuel said renovations in The Jazz Loft basement are projected to be completed before the end of the year.
Setauket recently welcomed a new financial services office to the area, but the company’s president is no stranger to the Three Village community.
Harlan Fischer, president of Branch Financial Services, recently moved his offices from Smithtown to Setauket. His business, which was located on Route 111 for 25 years, and before that, for 21 years in Hauppauge, has now found a home at 21 Bennetts Road.
The Head of the Harbor resident and his wife of almost 47 years, Olivia, are known for their involvement in the art community across the North Shore, and both are familiar names at The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook. For the past three years, the couple has sponsored a monthly concert series at the music venue and museum, which is currently closed due to the coronavirus.
Loft founder Tom Manuel said the Fischers were its first donors. The musician still remembers the day in 2015 when he was in Stony Brook village performing to raise money for the renovation of the venue’s future home. He said a man with a dog walked up to him and they began talking about jazz. The man turned out to be Fischer.
“I was just thinking, ‘Wow, how interesting that there’s this guy that kind of digs what we’re trying to do,’” Manuel said. “Little did I know he’d already read about us, and he came there on purpose. I just thought he was passing by.”
He said Fischer gave him an envelope with a check inside, but Manuel didn’t open it until he was home, thinking it was maybe worth $50. Later he opened the envelope and found the check was for $1,000.
“My eyes were as big as saucers,” he said.
The Jazz Loft founder said that with Fischer’s interest in jazz and the couple’s love of art, the venue is a perfect match for them.
“They’re doing it because it’s a passion,” he said. “It’s not just that they’re looking for a place to make a tax-deductible donation.”
Fischer and his wife’s philanthropy goes beyond The Jazz Loft. While the financial adviser spends the day discussing finances with clients — people from all over Long Island as well as 26 states — his interests lie elsewhere when the workday has ended. Both he and Olivia through the decades have developed a shared love of art.
Fischer said, for him, it began after a 1988 car accident when he was hit by a drunk driver. He realized he could have been killed, and up until that point his life was mostly about work.
“All of a sudden it got me in touch with my mortality,” he said.
“All of a sudden it got me in touch with my mortality.”
— Harlan Fischer
He was talking to his physical therapist who told him about the Rotary club. Not only did he join the organization, but he also went on to become the president of Smithtown Rotary from 1997to 98. Through the Rotary he became involved in various community projects, but when a friend told him how the Smithtown Township Arts Council was looking for a board member, that’s when he found one of his true passions. Fischer told his friend he knew nothing about art, but it turned out the board was looking for a businessperson like him. Fischer decided to join and a year later became its president.
During his five-year tenure, he said he learned a lot about art, thanks to Norma Cohen, who was director of the council back then. He and his wife began collecting artwork, especially contemporary studio art glass pieces that fill the couple’s Head of the Harbor home.
Olivia Fischer said the couple’s interest in art grew together and the two began raising money for various organizations, including hosting fundraisers in their home.
Through the years, the Fischers have been members of many art organizations as well as sponsored many events. Among their philanthropic activities have been being members of The Long Island Museum’s Directors Advisory Circle and sponsoring the East End Arts Music Masters Mentorship Program for high schoolers. The financial adviser is also a former board president of the Art League of Long Island, and in 2000, he was named The Times of Smithtown Man of the Year in Business.
In addition to their work in the world of the arts, the Fischers have rescued dogs and are in the process of adopting their 11th one. In late 2018, the Town of Smithtown recognized them for their $7,600 donation which enabled the Smithtown Animal Shelter to build a dog park that bears their name, the Olivia and Harlan Fischer Recreational and Development Park. The Fischers have also backed Little Shelter Animal Rescue’s annual Pet-A-Palooza in Huntington.
Fischer, who is in his early 70s, said he feels 10 years younger and has no plans to retire, especially in his new office that features some of his art collection. He added that he’s fortunate to work with good people too, which helps with leading a busy life.
“I can’t ask for more than that,” he said.
Success and enjoyment in life are something he believes people find when they feel passionate about what they are doing. He also believes in good timing, which has become a common theme in his life not only with finding ways to give back but also in his career life.
After spending four years in the Air Force and almost a year in Vietnam, he wound up in retail despite having an engineering degree from Northeastern University. He was running the Levitz Furniture & Showroom in Farmingdale when he told someone he no longer wanted to be in retail, and it was recommended he consider the financial field.
“Timing is everything in life,” he said. “Just being at the right place at the right time and saying the right thing. You make a right turn instead of a left turn, your whole life can be different.”
Stony Brook University recently launched its first-ever official podcast, “Beyond the Expected,” to highlight the expertise and contributions from outstanding members of the SBU community.
SBU leaders and personalities host guests whose stories exemplify the diversity of the SBU community and thought and the global impact of their scholarship. “Beyond the Expected” offers compelling interviews and insightful perspectives from members of the Stony Brook University community and beyond who are deeply committed to contributing their time, talent and solutions to the most pressing issues in the communities where they live, work or play.
The 30-minute show features rotating podcast hosts, beginning with inaugural host Interim President Michael A. Bernstein who kicked off the podcast series by delving into compelling discussions with members of the campus community who are making a great impact on the lives of others.
Through teaching, research and discovery, scholarship, engineered solutions, diversity, public-private partnerships and philanthropic relationships, these new episodes of “Beyond the Expected” podcast interviews will bring this to life. “Stony Brook University faculty, staff and students put their heart and soul into their work, which elevates our regional economy and contributes more broadly to areas such as environmental sustainability, health care, and social and cultural identity,” said Bernstein.
“This podcast will showcase their drive and diversity as we learn about what inspired them when young, and what they’re doing now that helps make Stony Brook the great community partner that it is today,” he added.
Some of the inaugural featured guests and topics of discussion on the “Beyond the Expected” podcast include:
▪ Professor Abhay Deshpande on the evolution of nuclear science and his involvement in planning for the Brookhaven National Lab-awarded development of the Electron-Ion Collider.
▪ Dr. David Fiorella on cutting-edge approaches to interventional brain surgery and new services he has brought to Long Island, helping save lives of stroke victims.
▪ Jazz Artist-in-Residence Thomas Manuel on the origins and historic relevance of The Jazz Loft, the song that got him hooked him on jazz and a memory of his best performance.
▪ Dr. Sharon Nachman on the safety of immunizations and vaccines and insights on the 2019 novel coronavirus.
▪ Dr. Carolyn Peabody and second-year MSW student, Meesha Johnson, on the 2020 Census and getting the Native American population in Suffolk County counted.
▪ Actor, director, screenwriter and author Alan Alda, visiting professor and founder of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science in conversation with Alan Inkles, director of the Staller Center for the Arts.
“Beyond the Expected” podcast is now live and can be downloaded and subscribed to on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Radio Public and Google Podcasts. One can also check out the vodcast on YouTube.
A St. James resident’s inheritance has become a treasure for a local museum and music venue.
Recently, John Diana, a periodontist and clinical assistant professor at Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine in the Department of Periodontology, donated the musical archives of renowned bandleader Xavier Cugat to The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook. Tom Manuel, the Loft’s founder, said the collection contains many of Cugat’s original manuscripts.
Manuel added that manuscripts like the newly acquired ones include various musical notations.
“That’s incredibly important because that means the music can be performed again, and that means, in many ways, the music can live on,” he said.
Diana is the only child of Robert W. Kasha, who was the pianist in the Sammy Kaye orchestra in the 1940s and ’50s. He said his father went on to become vice president of Willard Alexander Inc., and the theatrical agency had many of the big bands on contract. When Kasha met Cugat, he made an offer to purchase the bandleader’s name, music and rights to the band, and Cugat accepted the offer.
The periodontist said his mother, who used the stage name Ada Cavallo, was a singer, and she became the conductor of the band after his father gained the rights.
“Also, being Latina, she instilled the Latin rhythm required of a Latin band,” Diana said.
His father would play piano in the ensemble, and the New Xavier Cugat Orchestra was together for nearly 20 years, according to Diana. He said his parents traveled with the group numerous times to Japan, and both were inducted into the Big Band Hall of Fame in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Diana said his wife, Kathleen, was the one who suggested he contact The Jazz Loft to see if they would accept the Cugat material.
“Tom, from The Jazz Loft, was more than kind in accepting the music, and many of the exhibits in his museum were from bands and musicians that my dad booked and knew personally,” Diana said. “I feel, and I believe my folks would feel, that the music found a good home.”
Manuel said there aren’t many places like The Jazz Loft with a museum and educational component, and many people have reached out to them about musical archives they own but no longer have room for in their homes.
“It’s really amazing that we’re getting these incredibly important — historically important — collections,” he said.
Manuel said every collection is different and may include not only manuscripts, but also photographs, receipts, date books, tour schedules, instruments and more.
Some of the collections The Jazz Loft has acquired through the years have been from jazz trombonists Ray Anderson and Benny Powell and jazz and pop singer Keely Smith. The museum currently has the collection of piano player Jack Wilson on display to coincide with its July tribute to the entertainer.
The collections are rotated throughout the year in The Jazz Loft museum because it would be impossible to display everything at the same time, Manuel said. In October Anderson’s collection will be on display and the trombonist will also be performing at the venue. Next year Manuel plans to display the Benny Powell and Xavier Cugat exhibits.
Manuel said some of his favorite pieces from the Cugat collection include manuscripts that were written while the bandleader was in Cuba, parts are in Spanish, and the paper was made in Cuba.
Diana also had his favorite pieces.
“Being of Latino heritage, I enjoyed it all, but my favorite piece was a newer version of the ‘Peter Gunn’ theme, and from dad’s personal piano archives, his rendition of the classic ‘Laura,’” Diana said.
The Jazz Loft crew will begin sorting through the material from the Cugat collection. Manuel said first everything must be entered into a computer and initially placed in an envelope. Once the memorabilia are grouped together and categorized, the items will be put in archival boxes to help keep them preserved.
The Ward Melville Heritage Organization hosted its annual Jewels & Jeans Gala at Flowerfield in St. James on June 19. This year’s event honored Katharine Griffiths, Executive Director, Avalon Park & Preserve; Leah Dunaief, Editor and Publisher of Times Beacon Record News Media; Anna Kerekes, WMHO Trustee; and Andy Polan, President, Three Village Chamber of Commerce “for their outstanding achievements to the community.” The evening featured music by Tom Manuel and The Jazz Loft All Stars, cocktails, dinner and a live and silent auction.
Photos by Ron Smith, Clix|couture