The Library of Congress has announced its list of 2019 additions to the National Recording Registry. Among the 25 sound recordings deemed to have “cultural, historical, or aesthetic importance” are two jazz titles: bandleader/composer Maria Schneider’s album Concert in the Garden, and a recording of pianist Johnny Costa and his jazz trio accompanying children’s television host Fred Rogers.
Concert in the Garden, despite its title, is a studio recording by the Maria Schneider Orchestra, produced and released in 2004. Its centerpiece is a three-part, 28-minute suite titled “Three Romances,” which is steeped in Brazilian musical influences. Featuring Schneider’s original compositions and arrangements for her 18-piece orchestra (plus five guest musicians), the album received tremendous critical acclaim upon its release and in the years since, with some critics and listeners hailing it as her finest achievement. She is the first female jazz composer to have an album added to the Registry.
The 1973 recording Mister Rogers Sings 21 Favorite Songs from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” is associated more with children’s music than with jazz; however, Fred Rogers was a jazz lover and wrote the music of his iconic and long-running TV show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood with his musical director, Pittsburgh jazz pianist and celesta player Johnny Costa. Rogers, known affectionately as his onscreen persona “Mister Rogers,” studied music composition in college and worked on music programs during the early days of NBC-TV before launching Neighborhood in 1968. Costa arranged the music and performed it with the show’s house jazz band (bassist Carl McVicker Jr. and drummer Bobby Rawsthorne, at times supplemented by guitarist Joe Negri). The songs, like the show itself, became seminal pieces of American culture.
A third selection, bandleader Paul Whiteman’s 1920 recording of “Whispering,” remains controversial within the jazz world 100 years after its release. Whiteman led the most popular dance band in the United States following the First World War, and his extensive use of jazz elements within his music led to his being marketed as “The King of Jazz” during the 1920s. However, his position within the jazz canon is, at best, questionable.
The National Recording Registry is an officially curated list of sound recordings that have been selected for preservation at the Library of Congress. Established by an act of Congress in 2000, the registry includes recordings that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States,” and are at least 10 years old at the time of selection.
The other 2019 additions include a double-sided 1927 recording in protest of the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti; Narciso Martinez and Santiago Almeida’s 1936 single “La Chicharronera”; a 1939 radio production of playwright Arch Oboler’s The Bathysphere; country blues artist Memphis Minnie’s 1941 “Me and My Chauffeur Blues”; announcer Russ Hodges’ 1951 radio broadcast of the season-ending baseball game of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants; a 1953 recording of the Puccini opera Tosca, featuring Maria Callas; Allan Sherman’s 1963 novelty single “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”; a radio broadcast of the Boston Symphony in performance on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated; the 1964 original-cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof; country icon Eddy Arnold’s 1965 “Make the World Go Away”; ethnomusicologist Hiromi Lorraine Sakata’s collection of Afghani traditional music; Glen Campbell’s 1968 recording of “Wichita Lineman”; Dusty Springfield’s 1969 album Dusty in Memphis; Cheap Trick’s 1978 album At Budokan; the Cleveland Symphonic Winds’ 1978 recording of works by Holst and Bach (the first commercial digital recording in the United States); the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.”; a 1982 recording of the music of medieval female composer Hildegard von Bingen; Tina Turner’s 1984 pop-soul album Private Dancer; Selena’s 1990 tejano album Ven Conmigo; Dr. Dre’s 1992 hip-hop album The Chronic; Whitney Houston’s 1992 recording of “I Will Always Love You”; and percussionist Colin Currie’s 2008 recording of Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto.
The selections were made by the National Recording Preservation Board, and announced by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden on March 25.