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"Miss New Orleans" CD Helps Build Gulf Coast Libraries

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
February 7, 2007

In late 2005, when the Library of Traditional Jazz produced and released a new CD to raise money for storm-battered New Orleans, Bill Ross had not yet witnessed the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

Last spring, as copies of “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” were being sold, Ross volunteered there with Habitat for Humanity, making even more poignant his recent delivery of $10,000 in hurricane relief money.

Ross, head of the Milne Special Collections and Archives in Dimond Library, handed over the proceeds from CD sales to the American Library Association during its midwinter meeting in Seattle last month. The money will go toward rebuilding libraries along the Gulf Coast.

Remaining funds and further sales—there are still a couple hundred of the nearly 1,000 discs available—will go to benefit displaced musicians.

“You couldn’t take a picture of it all; even a film wouldn’t do it justice,” Ross says of the ruin he saw in the New Orleans. “In the Lower Ninth it goes as far as you can see. It’s what I imagine Hiroshima must have looked like.”

Photo: Curtis Compton, ALA Cognotes, From left to right: Margaret Booker, Executive Director, Missouri Library Association; Bill Ross, professor and Head, Milne Special Collections and Archives; and Michael Dowling, director, ALA Chapter Relations Office.

The music on “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans” was complied from recordings of UNH’s Traditional Jazz Series concerts maintained in Special Collections. The 15-track, 70-minute CD sells for $20, including $2 for shipping and handling, or $18 if picked up at Special Collections in Dimond Library.

Selections include “Basin Street Blues,” “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans?” and “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” Musicians represented include Doc Cheatham, Vic Dickenson, Dave McKenna, Dick Hyman, Jimmy Mazzy, Eli Newberger, Bud Freeman, Peanuts Hucko, and Tommy Gallant.

The fundraising project was the first of its kind for the library. Ross calls the making of the CD a unique occasion and a labor of love. Professor emeritus Paul Verrette and jazz curator Steve Cooper were also involved in the project, which was begun days after Hurricane Katrina hit.

“It was great to have a good reason to put together these great historical recordings, but it took us a lot of time,” he says. “We had to deal with reel-to-reel; four track; cassettes; everything. And then we had to get clearance from the copyright holders.”

Now that things are settling down with this project there has been talk of doing other CDs in the future, Ross says.

“It’s something we’d like to do, Ross says. “The Traditional Jazz Series has hosted and recorded so many great artists – and there are so many good causes out there,”

The order a CD or for more information, go to http://www.izaak.unh.edu/nhltj/ or call 2-2714.

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