Jazz Pensacola and West Florida Public Library Maintain Unique Jazz Room

Courtesy of the Pensacola News Journal.

When The Jazz Society of Pensacola started in 1983, the downtown branch of West Florida Public Library had a small collection of LP jazz recordings.  This was when long play records were transitioning to CDs.  The Jazz Society leadership approached the library director about a cooperative effort to enlarge the jazz collection.  Record producers from New Orleans and New York, George Buck and Gus Statiras, were consulted about which recordings and books were desired to start the collection.  This has been a true partnership since its beginning some forty years ago.  Friends of the WFPL have also made financial contributions to this collection. 

In 2013, when the new annex to the main library was completed, a jazz room was dedicated in the older, renovated section.  The late Ralph Knowles, an early Jazz Society member made a significant donation toward the establishment of a dedicated jazz room.

The current collection of jazz books, CDs and DVDs is valued at over $20,000.  The offerings vary from books about early beginnings of jazz to current.  There are excellent biographies of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, among many others.  There are photo collections by famous photographers such as Bill Gottlieb, jazz bassist-photographer Milt Hinton, Duncan Schiedt and others. Incidentally, there are photographs in jazz rom by Gottlieb and Hinton.  Those two, along with Schiedt, have appeared in Pensacola and exhibited their photographs in cooperation with the Jazz Society and Pensacola Museum of Art.

There are also many jazz instructional books.  These are play-along books and CDs for the jazz performer. Of special interest is the Anderson Series of jazz fake books.  This is a 17-volume set of lead sheets— one melody line and chord symbols—especially related to early jazz.  Some of these tunes were set to recordings without sheet music ever having been published.  The Anderson Series was a response to that need.  Interested patrons should check at the main desk.  Arrangements can be made for a patron to own his/her own song copy or two for personal use.

Norman Vickers, a founder of the Jazz Society, and Roger Villines, past president and accomplished trumpeter, are Jazz Society representatives of the Jazz Room.  Vickers said, “Although the main collection of jazz materials is at the downtown library, these resources are available at all branches. Previously when the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis’s recording, Kind of Blue, came out we obtained a copy for each of the branch libraries as well.  Similarly, we did so for the recording, Jazz for Juniors.”  Several rooms adjacent to the jazz room contain jazz photos and art work by Nina Fritz well as other jazz memorabilia.  There are photos of Pensacola jazz musicians who made good on the national and international scene.  These include Gygi Grice, Junior Cook, Don Shirley whose life was portrayed in the movie, The Green Book.   Also, few people know that Bulee “Slim” Gaillard was a Pensacola native since he was prone to make up stories about his background. The library has research papers done by UWF Students who traced his records to document his growing up in Pensacola.

Library donations now searchable on library website

The library has added a “tag” for donations from the Jazz Society. To search from your computer: go to the library web site, click Catalog, then Search our catalog, then Power search. Scroll down to Item category 1, click on the arrow beside it for a drop down list, then choose Jazz Society Gift; then Search. This will give you the books we recently donated and a few CDs. (Only the new items are listed for now as there hasn’t been any retroactive work to include past items.)

For more information, email us at [email protected] or call (850) 433-8382 during office hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The F. Norman Vickers Artist in Residence Fund

On the thirtieth anniversary year of Jazz Pensacola, the Board of Directors announced the establishment of The F. Norman Vickers Artist In Residence Fund (VARF) in honor of our founder. This is the first permanent fund created by the Society, and it offers an exciting new avenue for your support.

The F. Norman Vickers Artist In Residence Fund is designated to further the long term mission of the Jazz Pensacola. It would support bringing noted jazz musicians and educators to Pensacola to provide instruction, performance and assistance to our membership and community constituents. The jazz artists selected would be made available for workshops and instruction to area schools and institutions of higher learning. The artist in residence would also provide special concerts that would augment the existing scheduled performances of Jazz Pensacola.

Contributions to, and earnings from the F. Norman Vickers Artist In Residence Fund, will be kept and reported on separately from other Jazz Pensacola finances and activities. Rules for fund administration and financial reports will be made available to members and donors upon request. As a designated fund, the F. Norman Vickers Artist in Residence Fund meets the requirements of the 501(c) (3) not for profit requirements, and expenditures from the Fund are restricted to its stated purposes.

Please consider contributing to the goals of this important and exciting venture, personally, or in honor of a birthday, anniversary, or in memory of a loved one. You may also find it an appropriate estate planning option. Make contributions payable to The F. Norman Vickers Artist in Residence Fund / VARF and mail your check to Jazz Pensacola, 3 West Garden St., Suite 418 • Pensacola, FL 32502-5633.