Jazz Goes to College (partially found BBC jazz concert series; 1966-1967)

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Status: Partially Found

Jazz Goes to College was a teleconcert series produced and broadcast by the BBC from October 1966 to September 1967 showcasing various jazz concerts performed at British colleges and universities. The series boasted an impressive roster of artists (Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, Woody Herman and Sonny Rollins to name a few) within it's year-long runtime.

The vast majority of the show's master tapes have been permanently lost due to being wiped blank for re-usal.[1] This used to be a routine practice in the BBC due to technological and financial restraints, and the concept of archival wasn't as important or upheld at the time. Home television recording technology was also in it's early stages of development during the show's airing, and by no means a household item, so the likelihood of any third party recordings surfacing is incredibly low.

Below is a list of episodes sourced from the BBC Archives Card Index.[2] Note, this list does not include reruns.

Performance Air Date Status
The Thelonious Monk Quartet Oct. 27 1966 Lost
The New Orleans All Stars Nov. 3 1966 Lost
The Horace Silver Quintet Nov. 10 1966 Lost
Jazz from Chicago to Kansas City Nov. 17 1966 Lost
“Under Milk Wood” - The Stan Tracey Quartet Nov. 24 1966 Lost
The Dave Brubeck Quartet Dec. 1 1966 Lost
The Ronnie Ross Big Band Dec. 8 1966 Lost
The Modern Jazz Quartet Dec. 15 1966 Lost
Astrud Gilberto Dec. 22 1966 Lost
The Tubby Hayes Big Band Dec. 29 1966 Found
Wild Bill Davison with Alex Welsh and his Band Jan. 2 1967 Lost
The Thelonious Monk Quartet Jan. 9 1967 Lost
The Horace Silver Quintet Jan. 16 1967 Lost
Woody Herman and his Orchestra Jan. 30 1967 Lost
The Max Roach Quintet Feb. 6 1967 Lost
Max Roach and Sonny Rollins Mar. 20 1967 Lost
The Stan Getz Quartet Sep. 11 1967 Found

The Albert Ayler Quintet performance[edit | edit source]

Undoubtedly, the most important of these tapes to be lost was The Albert Ayler Quintet's 1966 performance. Albert Ayler, born July 13th, 1936, was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. He was a respected figure within his field of avant-garde jazz and his innovative and unorthodox sound played a key role in the development of the 'free jazz' genre of the 1960s. However, his raw and nonconforming playing style scored mixed receptions among contemporary critics, and his 1966 performance at the London School of Economics is a testimony to this fact.

On the night of November 15th, 1966, Albert Ayler and his quintet (Donald Ayler on trumpet, Beaver Harris on drums, Michael Samson on violin and William Folwell on bass) played a set at the London School of Economics with the knowledge that it would be taped by the BBC for the Jazz Goes to College series. First hand accounts[3] claim the reception at the venue was poor. Cool jazz musician Stan Getz had performed the night before, so the audience likely weren't expecting such an abrasive and free-form sound. The set was also riddled with technical problems, causing many interruptions. At one point the stage manager announced “We apologise for interrupting the music” only for a member of the audience to shout back "Why?".

Upon reviewing the footage, the tapes were rejected for television by the BBC, possibly due to the amount of interruptions rendering the footage unusable, but most likely in distaste for the music. The tapes were temporarily shut away until ultimately being wiped for future re-use.[4][5] It is important to note that, unlike many other episodes in the series, the Albert Ayler Quintet performance never even made it to air.

Albert Ayler was tragically found dead at the age of 34 in New York City's East River on November 25th, 1970, after being reported missing for 20 days. Although he has released many albums worth of live audio recordings, no other video footage of him performing is known to exist or have ever existed. Unless any bootleg or illicit recordings surface, whether that be of the BBC set or any other set, the wiped Jazz Goes to College tape will, unfortunately, go down in history as the only live recording of Albert Ayler ever to have existed.

See Also (Other programs that may/not may wiped by BBC)[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. [1] Retrieved 15 Jun '20
  2. [2] Retrieved 15 Jun '20
  3. [3] Retrieved 15 Jun '20
  4. [4] Retrieved 15 Jun '20
  5. [5] Retrieved 15 Jun '20