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Swinging Spoken Words

When I came upon video interviews with 280 jazz musicians (available on CD, DVD, audiocassette and in print), it was for me like hearing the voices of participants in the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, where our swinging liberties were being improvised by James Madison and other sidemen and set down for posterity.

I had known about this Jazz Archive at Hamilton College in upstate New York, but only recently discovered its history and extent under the supervision of Monk Rowe, whose formal title is the Joe Williams Director of the Jazz Archive. In his dressing room once, Joe talked to me about chronicling the survivors of this music. Along with his own continuing presence on recordings Joe, in his connection with Hamilton, has been instrumental in giving permanence to more jazz history.

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