(b Pittsburgh, PA, Jan 29, 1915; d Paterson, NJ, March 18, 1995). American writer on jazz, record producer, and folklorist. He coedited one of the first scholarly books on jazz with Charles Edward Smith, Jazzmen: the Story of Hot Jazz Told in the Lives of the Men who Created It (New York, 1939). Supported in part by Guggenheim Fellowships (1953, 1955), Ramsey conducted extensive fieldwork throughout the American South, photographing African American life and recording interviews and music. The results of his travels are detailed in his books Been Here and Gone (New Brunswick, NJ, 1960) and Where the Music Started (New Brunswick, NJ, 1970). Many of his field recordings were released by Folkways Records as Music of the South (1954). He produced a historical anthology of recordings for Folkways titled Jazz (1950–53). Later, grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (...
Alex Harris Stein
[Miguel José ]
(b Petra, Majorca, Spain, Nov 24, 1713; d Mission San Carlos Borromeo, Alta California [now in Carmel, CA], Aug 28, 1784). Spanish Franciscan friar and founder of the Alta California missions. Baptized Miguel José, upon joining the Franciscan order at age 17 he took the name of Junípero, after a companion of St. Francis. In 1742 Serra obtained a doctorate in theology at the Lullian University in Palma de Mallorca, where he was a professor of theology. Known as a forceful and zealous preacher with a resonant voice, in 1749 Serra sailed for New Spain to become a missionary. He served in the missions in the Sierra Gorda from 1750 to 1758, and the missions he administered there prospered. In order to better serve the indigenous population he served there, he learned the Otomí language. In 1758 Serra was recalled to the San Fernando College in Mexico City, where he remained until ...
(b Takoma Park, MD, Feb 28, 1939; d Salem, OR, Feb 22, 2001). American guitarist, folklorist, and record producer. As a teenager, Fahey’s early interest in country music was expanded to include bluegrass and country-blues due to a friendship with richard Spottswood , later a noted folk and ethnic music scholar. With Spottswood and famed collector Joe Bussard, Fahey sought out pre-war 78 r.p.m. records. After taking up the guitar, Fahey’s made his first recordings for Bussard’s private Fonotone label on 78 r.p.m. shellac discs, some of which Fahey claimed to have slipped into boxes of more “authentic,” vintage records at flea markets. In 1959 Fahey founded Takoma Records to distribute his own recordings, beginning with the LP Blind Joe Death; his liner notes also frequently mock the language of then-contemporary blues scholars, the very people he had hoped to fool with the Fonotone 78s.
Despite his sense of humor Fahey was a serious student of American vernacular music. He travelled long distances to find Bukka White and Skip James in the Mississippi Delta in the early 1960s; he relates these events in the memoir, ...
revised by Barry Kernfeld
[William; Wagner, Russell William]
(b Canton, MO, Feb 26, 1905; d New Orleans, Aug 9, 1992). American jazz historian, record producer, violinist, and composer. He played violin from the age of ten, and later studied music in Chicago (1924). After private violin tuition in New York (1927) he attended Columbia University Teachers College (1929), where he took up composition; around 1930 he dropped his surname, Wagner, to avoid comparisons with a rather more famous composer in the field. While touring with a theatrical group, the Red Gate Shadow Players, which staged classical Chinese puppet plays (1934–40), he began collecting early jazz records, reselling many through the Hot Record Exchange that he ran from 1935 with the painter Steve Smith. He contributed articles to the magazine Jazz hot and wrote three chapters of Jazzmen: the Story of Hot Jazz Told in the Lives of the Men who Created it...
revised by Barry Kernfeld
(b Cambridge, MA, Oct 18, 1908; d Key West, FL, Dec 18, 1966). American writer. He learned to play drums before attending Harvard University as an undergraduate (BS 1931) and law student (1932–4), then studied medieval English literature at Yale University (PhD 1942); at graduate school he was a founder of the United Hot Clubs of America, a jazz appreciation society. While pursuing a career as a professor in English literature at several universities he served as a columnist on jazz for Variety and Saturday Review, contributed to Down Beat, Record Changer, Esquire, Harper’s, and Life, and edited articles on jazz for Musical America. In 1950 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship to begin work on The Story of Jazz (1956), a historical survey that became widely used. He developed a course on jazz at New York University in 1950 and another at Hunter College, where he settled the following year. Stearns founded the ...
(b Vienna, June 25, 1910; d June 26, 1992). Austrian director and musicologist. He studied at Vienna University with Lach, Orel and Wellesz (1929–35) and took the doctorate in 1935 with a dissertation on the Viennese stage director Friedrich Strampfer. After serving as stage manager and director at various German and Austrian theatres (...