Magazine article IAJRC Journal

An Encyclopedia of South Carolina Jazz & Blues Musicians

Magazine article IAJRC Journal

An Encyclopedia of South Carolina Jazz & Blues Musicians

Article excerpt

An Encyclopedia of South Carolina Jazz & Blues Musicians Benjamin Franklin V University of South Carolina Press (2016) Columbia, SC, 312 pp w 88 b & sv photographs. Hb $49.99/eBook $29.99

Professor Emeritus Ben Franklin of University of South Carolina has been responsible for much good writing re: jazz and blues over the decades, both for specialist and academic publications. I knew him through his pieces in Cadence some years back - you may have as well. In 2008, he published via the same imprint a collection of interviews with SC jazz and blues musicians that whetted my appetite for more information on folks of that nature. This is the kind of book that I wish every US state would publish covering their state's vernacular musical heritage in depth.

Franklin began work on this project back in the 60s and continued digging deeply until quite recently. It is what it says it is on the cover - an encyclopedia. Each alphabetical entry works offone universal format: surname, given names (+known as); instrument(s) or vocalist; date of birth (place) - date of death (place); SC residences (years); career details; musical compositions; recordings as leader; leaders recorded with; films; awards; website; references. Needless to say, not every entry has all these categories, but such a listing shows how thorough Dr. Franklin's research has been over time!

Beginning the alphabet with Johnny Acey (not to be confused with either jazz pianist Johnny Acea from Philadelphia, nor Memphis R&B star Johnny Ace!) and progressing to jazz trumpeter Webster Young, Franklin treats each musician with equal respect. Facts are backed up from multiple sources if possible - if not, he indicates so and why. While most of the entries are of musicians who recorded or have been mentioned in print, some are just names in the wind but are part and parcel of the overarching history of the population of localized musicians.

So much of this kind of work over the years has focused on folks who made records, but that singular act is a serendipitous one of sheer dumb luck for those fortunate (or not) to make it into a studio! (It does make our job easier!) Beginning with prerecording sources, Franklin has mined both governmental and journalistic ones that are now available to the research public as never before.* Professor Franklin is also not swayed by the record collector's bias towards rarity, writing:

all the musicians identified in this book, including amateurs. …

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