Everyone in Moscow knows of the “Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival,” but many people may not know about the life of the man who this event is named after.
Garth Reese, head of University of Idaho library special collections, said one great way people can learn about Hampton and other famous jazz artists is to visit the UI library and view the International Jazz Collection section of the special collections in the archives.
Reese said there are multiple interesting items to look at in the jazz collection.
“One of the more interesting pieces is Ella Fitzgerald’s wig,” Reese said. “Another is a pair of sunglasses worn by Dizzy Gillespie.”
Reese said the great thing about having these items is it makes people feel like they have a more direct link to the artists as opposed to just having a piece of music or a photo of the person. He said one example of this is a silk suit worn by Buddy Tate. He said you can still smell Tate’s scent on the suit, giving you a more personal and slightly disturbing connection to the artist.
Julie Monroe, special collections and archives library assistant, said anyone is welcome to visit and view these items. She said one thing people might not know is how to go about getting access to the archive.
“It’s a pretty vast collection to go through,” Monroe said.
Monroe said to search for a specific item, patrons should start by looking through the catalog on the library’s homepage. She said there will be a collections tab and after clicking the tab click on the international jazz collection tab. From here students are able to view the various artists which have information in the archive. Click on an artist and look through the list of items that are available. Students will need to already have in mind what they want to look at before visiting the reading room. With an item in mind, go to the reading room, located on the first floor of the library and ask the person at the desk to see the item. The archives are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Reese said the archive is constantly expanding.
“When we first got this collection, not much was processed, but it is an on-going process,” Reese said.
Reese said there are certain items belonging to Lionel Hampton on display on the first and second floors of the library during Jazz Fest.
One item students can view without having to dive into the archives is the vibraphones, which are always on display in the reading room. The vibraphones belonged to Lionel Hampton and remain in great condition.
Another set of items that can be viewed are a set of gowns worn by Ella Fitzgerald. One gown is turquoise and the other is a mix of colors. The mixed colored dress has a tear on the right sleeve near the shoulder.
Erik Fink can be reached at email@example.com