[JPL] largest privately held jazz record collection in America donated to Oberlin

Jazz Promo Services jazzpromo at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 5 08:10:46 EST 2007



We had it coming, but jazz is going

By Howard Reich

December 4, 2007

It's billed as the largest privately held jazz record collection in America,
and it's heading out of Chicago.

More than 100,000 jazz recordings tracing the history of the art form --
from swing to the avant-garde -- will be donated to Oberlin Conservatory of
Music, in Oberlin, Ohio, by Chicagoans James and Susan Neumann.

James Neumann, who graduated from Oberlin College in 1958 as a liberal arts
major, began acquiring inexpensive jazz albums as a teenager, long before
the LPs became collectors' items. He eventually amassed a collection of the
complete recordings of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie,
Charlie Parker and more, he says.

Why didn't the Neumanns donate the treasures to a Chicago institution?

"I tried to," says James Neumann, "but I was rejected. ... A lot of
organizations didn't have room for it."

Because Oberlin Conservatory plans to open the $22 million Phyllis Litoff
Building for jazz studies in 2009, the school could accommodate the
Neumanns' trove (which also includes posters, autographs and other jazz

James Neumann places the value of the collection "in the neighborhood of
$500,000"; its complete recorded contents will be transferred to digital

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