Stan Levenson has not received any gifts yet
Over the summer of 2010, the music collections at the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library (Tulane University) received a stunning donation of books, journals, sound recordings, and video recordings all about jazz. The collection, now known as the Stan Levenson Jazz Collection, makes 950 books, 23 journal titles, 760 VHS cassettes, 205 DVDs, 65 laser discs, over 2,500 CDs, and more than 3,000 LPs available to our students and faculty. As the sheer mass of materials might suggest, this is no ordinary collection. While the titles are almost all readily available from used book and music sellers at greater or lesser cost, the breadth of the collection makes this a tremendous boon to our patrons. A glance at the collection will reveal a wealth of material discussing the first whisperings of jazz at the turn of the twentieth century through all the stylistic developments over the next 100 years. The collection also has a remarkably international perspective and gives library users access to materials discussing jazz in the United States and Canada, as well as France, Russia, Germany, Japan, etc., etc., etc. While the periodicals will go a long way towards replacing our copies lost or damaged in Hurricane Katrina, there are still a few treasures new to our holdings, including some of the earliest issues of Mosaic Records and The Record Changer.
All 4,000 plus items came from one man pursuing his love of jazz for 60 years. Although a businessman by trade, Stan Levenson has lived a life of passionate interest and involvement in the jazz industry. In the 1950s and 60s, Stan worked in distribution for an assortment o record labels, including Prestige, Fantasy, World Pacific, London, Dot, Liberty, and ABC Paramount. Stan later added Motown, Kapp, and Pickwick to the roster of record labels for which he provided sales and promotional services. Since then, Stan and his wife, Barbara, co-founded the Levenson Group of Companies, based in Dallas, TX. Through this group, Stan brought his love of jazz to the office and worked with clients, including George Wein, for the Astrodome Kool Jazz Festivals and the Longhorn Jazz Festival and sponsored the North Texas Jazz Festival (produced by the University of North Texas).
We couldn't just accept this wonderful collection without sharing our thanks, so on March 25th we hosted a reception in honor of the collection and the man who made it possible. Special Collections was kind enough to allow us to set up a semester-long exhibition showcasing the collection in their display room, where we also hosted the reception. The display uses the dust jackets, mock-cds, LPs, and journals to display the time span, the various styles, and the wide geographical coverage of the collection. Art books, photography books, and poetry books from the collection are also on display. Catering from Chez Nous included the local culinary favorites Cajun shrimp balls and grilled spicy sweet shrimp, along with a selection of vegetarian friendly nibbles. The gypsy jazz repertoire on bass, guitar, and sitar, performed by the New Orleans Oneironauts, created a vibrant backdrop for the lively conversations among those attending the reception.
The reception was well-attended, the 25 family members who arrived with Stan not withstanding! Librarians from all corners of the library- reference, circulation, cataloging, and administration - attended, along with students and faculty, not just from the music department but also from anthropology, Asian studies, and few other areas. The library dean, Lance Query, and associate dean, Andy Corrigan, both paused to say a few warm words of thanks, before Stan stood up to express his joy at discovering just how much the materials from his collection are already being used by our students and faculty.
We are so delighted to have this collection here and are doing our best to fulfill Stan's wish to make his materials as widely available as possible. With a few exceptions of items going into our collection of rare materials, all materials are being integrated into the regular stacks. Once the shelving is installed in April, the LPs will be available for in-house use only, but books, CDs, and video recordings will all circulate out of the library. In accordance with our existing policies, only the books are available through interlibrary loan, but anybody is welcome to come on down to New Orleans to listen to some excellent vinyl! To see what's in the collection you can search our library catalog (http://www.library.tulane.edu) for the phrase "Stan Levenson Jazz Collection."