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UW-Eau Claire to house one of nation's largest jazz collections

July 21, 2012

Supporting the John L. Buchholz Jazz Library: Those interested in helping the UW-Eau Claire Foundation maintain the John L. Buchholz Jazz Library in Special Collections at McIntyre Library for use by educators, students and jazz aficionados can find out how to make a gift on the Foundation website.

 UW-Eau Claire jazz collection celebration
A quintet consisting of Ron Keezer (UW-Eau Claire associate professor emeritus of music) on drums, Jeremy Boettcher (2006 UW-Eau Claire music education graduate) on bass, Jiggs Whigham (faculty member at Cologne University College of Music in Germany) on trombone, Bob Baca (UW-Eau Claire professor of music) on trumpet and Geoffrey Keezer (jazz pianist and composer and son of Ron Keezer) on piano performed in UW-Eau Claire's Haas Fine Arts Center July 21. A crowd gathered for the UW-Eau Claire Foundation celebration of its acquisition for the university of one of the nation's largest collections of charts and recordings by many of the biggest names in jazz. (UW-Eau Claire photo by Bill Hoepner)

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation hosted a celebration July 21 of its acquisition for the university of one of the nation's largest collections of charts and recordings by many of the biggest names in jazz.

Woody Herman, Sammy Nestico, Count Basie, Neil Hefti, Shorty Rogers, Maynard Ferguson, Bill Holman, Stan Kenton, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Henry Mancini and Glenn Miller are some of the jazz musicians whose original charts and recordings (many of which are autographed and one of a kind) are in the collection.

The celebration event, attended by university alumni, current and former faculty members and other friends and supporters of jazz studies at UW-Eau Claire, took place at noon in the Haas Fine Arts Center. The collection has been named the John L. Buchholz Jazz Library after the UW-Eau Claire professor emeritus of English and longtime jazz musician and supporter of jazz studies.

"It is thrilling for us to increase opportunities for student and faculty professional development as a result of the scholarship and creative activities that will be generated by this collection," said Dr. Vanissa Murphy, chair of UW-Eau Claire's department of music and theatre arts. "Because of the efforts of Ron Keezer and our Foundation, our already strong programs are further enhanced by this collection of charts and historically significant recordings. The potential educational impact of this amazing jazz library is invaluable."

 Jazz collection celebration image
Standing next to a plaque bearing the name of UW-Eau Claire's recently acquired John L. Buchholz Jazz Library were, from left, Edward "Pete" Petersen, Ron Keezer, John Buchholz and Interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet. (UW-Eau Claire photo by Bill Hoepner)
Ron Keezer, a UW-Eau Claire associate professor emeritus of music, discovered the availability of the collection from original owner Edward "Pete" Petersen, a big-band leader from Arlington, Texas. The collection, valued at $200,000, includes nearly 1,000 charts and more than 1,000 recordings gathered by Petersen over a 60-year period.

The UW-Eau Claire Foundation acquired the collection for $75,000 after Petersen, upon learning from Keezer of the quality and history of jazz at UW-Eau Claire and in the Chippewa Valley, donated a portion of the collection's worth to help make the acquisition possible. Gifts to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation from more than 200 UW-Eau Claire alumni and friends and a matching gift of $25,000 from the L.E. Phillips Family Foundation supported the purchase of the collection.

Gifts from Zach Halmstad, a 2004 UW-Eau Claire music graduate, and the Will and Carole Jennings Family Trust represented a substantial investment in the acquisition. Will Jennings is a Grammy- and Academy Award-winning songwriter who was a UW-Eau Claire English faculty member from 1969-71.

 Jazz collection celebration image
Laurie Gapko, UW-Eau Claire associate professor emeritus, reviewed John L. Buchholz Jazz Library materials on display July 21 during a celebration of the acquisition of the collection by the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. (UW-Eau Claire photo by Bill Hoepner)

"Finding Pete Petersen and his magnificent collection was like finding King Tut's tomb — what a treasure!" Keezer said. "This collection will benefit students and researchers well into the future. UW-Eau Claire's outstanding jazz studies students and superb faculty will be able to use this music in perpetuity. It has been a pleasure and an honor to be a part of all this."

The collection will be housed in McIntyre Library's special collections and archives department. Additional fundraising continues for support of the preservation and digitizing of the collection so it can be accessible to jazz students and educators worldwide.

"We're very excited to be able to house this valuable collection in McIntyre Library's special collections and archives," said John Pollitz, UW-Eau Claire's director of libraries. "The collection will provide students and educators with new avenues for conducting research into the history of this important music. Our first priority is to organize the collection for use and to create digital preservation copies of the records and manuscripts so that students and jazz scholars will be able to work with the material while keeping it safe for years to come."

Keezer's goal from the beginning was to dedicate the collection to Buchholz.

"For years John has supported jazz at UW-Eau Claire and in the greater community, and his contributions are enduring and valuable," Keezer said. "It is an honor to name this collection after such an esteemed colleague and friend."

Keezer and Buchholz met in 1957, and the musicians started performing together in gigs arranged by Buchholz's father, Carl, a local jazz band leader. Over the years they played with different combos, one of which played for 12 years at the St. Joseph's Hospital Charity Ball in Chippewa Falls. Buchholz also played with the regional favorite TSR (which stood for "Teacher Student Relationships"), a group that played frequently at the former Fischer's White House in Eau Claire. Buchholz and Keezer, both of whom played in the first UW-Eau Claire jazz ensembles (in 1962 and 1963, respectively), joined the UW-Eau Claire faculty in 1969 and became early contributors to the growth and popularity of jazz studies at the university. Both retired in 2001.

Robert Baca, professor of music and jazz studies director at UW-Eau Claire, said the acquisition of the John L. Buchholz Jazz Library is a fitting way to mark the university's 50th year of jazz studies.

"To be the proprietor of such a collection as this is, like Duke Ellington said, 'beyond description,'" Baca said. "It puts UW-Eau Claire on the international map for the jazz community."

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