The Archive of Recorded Sound recently collaborated with the Bing Stanford in Washington program to provide digitized images from the Archive's Grover Sales Collection (ARS.0016) for an evening event at the program in late January which served to launch both a new arts track at Bing Stanford in Washington, and provide students from both Stanford and nearby Duke Ellington School of the Arts with an insight into the role jazz played in African American history and civil rights through the early to middle part of the 20th century. The event featured a display of enlarged wall mounted images of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and Ethel Waters, sourced from the Grover Sales Collection, digitized from 35mm negative slides. Grover Sales (1920-2004), a Bay Area author, jazz critic, and teacher, who regularly taught jazz history here at Stanford, amassed the image portion of his collection from various sources for use during his classes.
The Bing Stanford in Washington reception event followed a performance, at Duke Ellington School for the Arts, of Blues for a Royal Flush, a music and performance piece on the life of Duke Ellington, woven with resonant experiences of other African American jazz icons -such as Ethel Waters, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Strayhorn and Lena Horn- who ascended through different racial and artistic challenges to opportunity and platform, while in Duke's orbit. This work of theatre was written by playwright Tom Minter, a regular lecturer at Bing Stanford in Washington. This play itself took place at the end of a day that featured a series of educational events for students, which Boone Centennial Director at Bing Stanford in Washington, Adrienne Jamieson, describes in more detail:
"The event with the Duke Ellington School for the Arts took place after a day's African American history and civil rights tour of key sites in Washington, including the U Street corridor where Duke Ellington and other jazz and blues greats launched their careers, the Bowen Street YMCA where Langston Hughes lived for a time and Ben's Chili Bowl, where the leaders of the civil rights movement gathered in the 1960's. We discussed the emergence of an African American arts community in Washington, as a function of the politics and history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The former head curator for the Smithsonian Institution, John Coppola, organized and led the tour, along with a talk by Dwan Reece, curator for the performing arts at the African American History and Culture Museum.
Blues for a Royal Flush provided Bing Stanford in Washington students with another window into the jazz and blues world and the varied backgrounds from which its stars emerged. The Washington DC Jazz Institute led by Davey Yarborough provided the music, using Luther Henderson's original arrangements and music (thanks to his widow, Bille Allen Henderson, who joined us from New York for the evening). All joined us at Bing Stanford in Washington after the performance... and a number of our students became rather committed jazz fans after the evening."
Thanks go to Astrid Smith, Rare Book and Special Collections Digitization Specialist for Stanford Libraries' Digital Libraries Systems and Services (DLSS), and Jill Vizas, On Campus Coordinator for the Bing Stanford in Washington program, for their help with this project.