The Al Cohn Memorial Jazz Collection
The Al Cohn Memorial Jazz Collection had its beginning in early 1988, when Cohn was terminally ill. A close friend, trumpeter Ralph Hughes, first approached East Stroudsburg University with the idea of starting a jazz archive at the university. The Pocono Mountains region of Pennsylvania had become home turf for dozens of jazz musicians, singers, and artists, many with world-renowned reputation. It seemed as though a jazz archive at ESU would be a natural fit. Hughes suggested that it be named for Al Cohn — an appropriate tribute to a man known to his fellow musicians as “Mr. Music.”
With the approval of Flo Cohn (Al’s wife), the backing of Phil Woods and other prominent jazz musicians and friends, and the support of ESU, the idea became a reality shortly after Cohn’s death. James E. Gilbert, the University President at that time, said he believed the collection was “a significant addition to our institution” and felt sure it would “attract other collections of jazz memorabilia and develop into a significant depository of the genre of 20th Century desiderata.”
Gilbert’s words were prescient. Over the years countless supporters have donated their time, talent, money and artifacts to the collection. Today, thousands of recordings and photographs, along with sheet music, oral history interviews, videos, books, original artwork and assorted memorabilia are numbered among its holdings.
Representing all forms of jazz from all eras, the Al Cohn Memorial Jazz Collection was founded and named in honor of the award-winning Al Cohn — legendary saxophonist, arranger, composer and conductor.
The collection is housed in Kemp Library on the campus of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania and consists of jazz recordings, oral histories, sheet music, photographs, books, videos, and original art and memorabilia generously donated over the years by its many supporters.
About Al Cohn provides a brief biographical overview of this award-winning, world-renowned musician.
The ACMJC also includes some special collections: Pocono Jazz Heritage, Zoot Sims, John Bunch, Eddie Safranski, Coover Gazdar, and most recently the Jimmy Amadie Collection.
Pocono Jazz Heritage Collection
The Pocono Mountains region of northeastern Pennsylvania has boasted a fertile jazz community for decades. Dozens of acclaimed jazz musicians and singers have called this region home, along with numerous clubs, recording studios and other jazz-related businesses. The Pocono Jazz Heritage Collection maintains this rich history through recordings, documents and photographs. In addition, this collection includes audio and video tapes of East Stroudsburg University’s campus offerings which feature both regional and world-renowned jazz artists.
Eddie Safranski Collection
Honored with numerous awards for both his big band and small group performances (DownBeat, Metronome and Esquire), Eddie Safranski was best known for playing with the Stan Kenton and Charlie Barnet orchestras in the 1940s. He worked as a music director for NBC in the 1950s and 1960s, and later taught and played freelance. This collection is comprised of Safranski’s personal materials.
Coover Gazdar Collection
A lifelong lover of jazz, Coover Gazdar was a highly-regarded jazz record collector and author. His discographies cover the recordings of Oscar Pettiford (First Bass) and Wardell Gray (Easy Swing). India was home to Gazdar, but he traveled the world extensively as a marketing executive. Through these trips, along with purchases by mail and through contacts with fellow record collectors, Gazdar amassed a collection of almost 1600 LPs, 800 cassette tapes and numerous books. Following his untimely death in 1998, his family generously donated his collection to the Al Cohn Memorial Jazz Collection for the benefit of jazz researchers, students and enthusiasts.
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania enjoys a proud history of jazz offered to both students and the general public. Zoot Fest is held annually and is a day to celebrate the music of Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. ESU also offers specialty concerts in the spring in support of the Collection. See Jazz at ESU for more information.
To date, the ACMJC has proudly published five volumes in the Jazz Family Album series, featuring hundreds of photographs of jazz greats taken by equally great professional jazz photographers. ACMJC also publishes its free newsletter, The NOTE, twice a year. See Publications for more information, and Order Form to purchase copies of Jazz Family Albums.
We depend on supporters to fund our preservation efforts and help keep this worthwhile collection going. If you can help in any way, please visit the Donations page.
If you would like to receive The NOTE or learn about the numerous jazz concerts at ESU, join our Mailing List.
Search the Al Cohn Memorial Jazz Collection Holdings to view search for recordings, books, sheet music, oral histories, archival collections, and photographs in our collection.