A Jazz Town

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 8, 2009 | Go to article overview

A Jazz Town


Byline: Susan Dibble sdibble@dailyherald.com

ItAEs easy to identify the real jazz fanatics when they visit Elmhurst Historical MuseumAEs new exhibit, "Elmhurst Jazz: A Celebration of an American Art Form in Elmhurst."

"TheyAEre the ones who stand by Louis ArmstrongAEs trumpet and want to get their picture taken," said Lance Tawzer, curator of exhibits.

Yes, SatchmoAEs trumpet is there, along with Benny GoodmanAEs clarinet and a host of other information and artifacts relating to the evolution of jazz and its relationship to a Elmhurst?

Yes, Elmhurst. Although most people might not immediately associate the leafy community with jazz, the city has quite a few connections to the most original of American music forms, Tawzer said.

Take, for instance, DownBeat magazine, a leader in jazz journalism that is read by fans in more than 100 countries around the globe. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, DownBeat has been published for the past 20 years in Elmhurst.

The magazine had a hand in getting the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival started. Back in 1967 when DownBeat was still published in Chicago, it put out a call for colleges and universities to unite in a national jazz festival.

Elmhurst College answered that challenge and became the Midwest site for the festival in 1968. When the national festival was discontinued in 1973, the college held its own Elmhurst

College Jazz Festival and continues the event today, drawing big names in the business as well as college jazz bands from around the country.

Those two elements provided the foundation for the exhibit, Tawzer said.

"They (DownBeat editors) were having their 75th anniversary and we thought there was more to the story," he said. "The more we peeled that onion, the more connections we found."

The exhibit telling the story of those connections is on display through Sunday, May 24, and is accompanied by several workshops and lectures on jazz.

DownBeat publisher Frank Alkyer will be at a reception for the exhibit from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23. The museum worked closely with DownBeat in tracking down sources and pulling together information on jazz.

"We pointed them to sources for artifacts. They went out and got them," Alkyer said. "For a jazz fan, these are holy grail."

The Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, N.Y., loaned ArmstrongAEs trumpet, a DownBeat award he received and photos of him in Chicago.

"Louis Armstrong really started his career in Chicago," Tawzer said. …

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