The Erie community can’t get enough. Library users borrowed more jazz music from the Blasco Library by August this year, than they had the entire previous year. Library Directory, Mary Rennie, predicts that the jazz circulation at the end of 2014 will roughly double that of 2013.
“Everything Jazz,” came from a collection donated by Erie native, Bob Protzman, a former journalist of forty years. During his career, Protzman specialized in reporting stories on popular artists. He interviewed Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach and other musical giants of his time. His occupation as a jazz critic resulted in a massive collection of the genre’s music, of which the Blasco Library is now the beneficiary.
Rennie said Protzman's gift can be the catalyst of a host of educational programs about jazz. The library will create these programs with the help of JazzErie, a local nonprofit that promotes jazz throughout the region.
The Library is now in the process of brainstorming on program ideas for 2015. Some ideas include:
• Student jazz ensembles performing at the library; working with school music teachers to engage students and offer entertainment to library patrons
• Live jazz documentary night with an emcee to discuss the history of jazz as well as performing representative music of the time
• Jazz story time for younger library patrons that shares the highlights of this genre’s history
• A unique petting zoo for kids: this petting zoo involves bringing in musical instruments to touch and try out
• Jazz film nights at the library which would include “Lady Sings the Blues,” “Chicago,” “Bird,” and “Cabin in the Sky,” to name a few.
• Jammin’ Jazz for teens at the library—all things jazz—learning, listening, discussing and composing their own music
• Jazz concert series: local musicians performing their favorites from this era
Protzman’s donation is estimated to be worth $25,000-$35,000 in CDs and other memorabilia. As for the philanthropist himself, he said that if library patrons appreciate it, then that’s enough for him.
"Jazz is sophisticated, emotional. It's often complex. It's about feeling," Protzman said. "People have said to me many times, 'I just don't understand jazz.' I say to them, 'Don't worry about understanding it. See if you can feel it. And if you can feel it, try listening to it some more.'”