The Jazz Loft acquires trombonist Jack Teagarden collection

The Jazz Loft acquires trombonist Jack Teagarden collection

A letter to Jack Teagarden from Louis Armstrong is just one of the pieces in the collection recently acquired by the Jazz Loft. Photo from The Jazz Loft

No distance is too far for Jazz Loft Founder and President Tom Manuel to travel to acquire new Jazz archival collections and memorabilia for the Jazz Loft’s museum. The latest acquisition for the Loft comes from Phoenix, Arizona, where Manuel recently returned with a complete collection from the famed trombonist and singer Jack Teagarden. Teagarden pioneered early Jazz along with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins and Earl “Fatha” Hines.

Jack Teagarden’s trombone is just one of the pieces in the collection recently acquired by the Jazz Loft. Photo from The Jazz Loft

For more than 35 years the archives had been in the possession of Jimmy Nicholas, who was entrusted with the collection by Teagarden’s widow Addie Teagarden. The collection includes manuscripts, music from Teagarden’s big band of the 1940’s and small groups with Armstrong from the 1950’s, photos, contracts, personal letters from important figures in the entertainment world, such as Paul Whitman, Bunk Johnson, W.C. Handy, Johnny Mercer, Hugh Hefner, Joe Glasser and countless others.

Some highlights of the collection include Teagarden’s 1940’s Buescher trombone which he received from Jerry Colonna and a very personal letter from Louis Armstrong.

“Due to their close friendship and collaboration over many years, the amount of Armstrong memorabilia is really impressive,” said Manuel. “I am in awe and amazed that the Jazz Loft can present these historic memorabilia. It really is the pinnacle and dream of any museum archive and an absolute honor to be guardians of such an important collection. I am so appreciative to Jimmy Nicholas and his wife Debbie for entrusting us with this incredibly important piece of Jazz history. There are four people who truly were at the birth of it all and paved the way for what is considered Jazz: Louis Armstrong on trumpet, Coleman Hawkins on tenor saxophone, Earl Hines on piano and Jack Teagarden on trombone.”  

Teagarden frequented the Jazz scene in New York extensively over the years both performing in the clubs on and around 52nd Street, as well as the major recording and television studios and theaters.

“It’s nice to have Jack back in New York after all these years,” said Manuel.

The archives have been boxed and interns from Stony Brook University will start digitalizing the items to make them available to the public within the next few months.

Manuel is hopeful that the remaining items that are in the collection and still held by Mr. Nicholas, will find their way to the Jazz Loft within the next few years, including master acetates of Teagarden recordings, some of which many historians believe are the earliest photos of Teagarden, as well as a very important piece of art which was given to the Teagarden family by the King and Queen of Thailand.

 The Jazz Loft is located at 275 Christian Avenue in Stony Brook. The museum is open Thursdays through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and is FREE. For more information, call 631-751-1895 or visit