Hello, my name is Bryce and I’m excited to be a part of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting team at WGBH this summer! Like the wonderful previous interns, Alyson and Bill, who paved the way for me (nice work guys!), I am a Simmons LIS graduate student specializing in Archives Management.
I first became interested in archives as an undergraduate musicology student, where much of my research time was spent searching for relevant sound and video recordings in the conservatory. I adamantly sought the use of these recordings as a more experiential avenue for learning beyond the text. In addition to animating my research, working with AV materials in the archives also quickly taught me that I was more interested in the recordings themselves than in synthesizing my projects. I became more motivated by questions of how we assign and derive meaning from sounds and moving images and how we preserve and enable these materials to continually invite new experiences.
I am anxious to tackle these questions and help people do research with sound and video. I love learning what sparks people’s interests and strategizing how to facilitate access to the materials that will help them most. It’s very cool to think that historians and archeologists of the future will be able to hear and see us (hopefully with a lot less digging?)! I ultimately hope to broaden the formats and voices embraced by archival practices as well as the kinds of research we do with them, and WGBH is the perfect place to learn!
Below I’ve shared a clip from the American Archive collection that I was personally thrilled to discover. It is from an interview and rehearsal with the late jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck as he prepares to perform a 50th anniversary concert at my alma mater, Oberlin College.
The celebrated original performance took place on March 2, 1953, in the campus’ Finney Chapel, where Brubeck and his quartet (Paul Desmond, alto sax; Lloyd David, drums; Ron Crotty, bass) famously introduced jazz to a whole new audience outside of the nightclub – the American undergraduate. Previously, jazz wasn’t even allowed to be played in most conservatory practice rooms, let alone on a concert stage. A few students rounded up the cash themselves to invite Brubeck, who was given a shoddy piano to perform on by the faculty, but a warm welcome from the audience.
In addition to launching Brubeck’s career, the performance helped inspire the now world-renowned jazz program at Oberlin. To our great fortune, the performance was also recorded by the college radio station, WOBC, resulting in the landmark album Jazz at Oberlin. Though I’d listened to hundreds of albums previously, as an undergraduate student learning about the history of jazz at Oberlin, this recording incited an appreciation for the enduring value of historical sounds for my research and enjoyment. The audience’s excitement during this initiation is audible, and you can sense their embrace of the new sounds.
The clip below offers Dave Brubeck’s fond recollection of the night that changed his career and jazz in American. Enjoy!