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Reel History

The Lost Archive of Juma Sultan and the Aboriginal Music Society

Stephen Farina

Publication Year: 2012

In this engaging hybrid work--a blend of oral history and graphic novel--Stephen Farina finds "Juma Sultan" in a local phonebook. After an initial meeting at a roadside diner, Juma takes Steve and a fellow researcher to a decrepit barn, which, amazingly, contains a treasure trove of reel-to-reel audio tapes and 16mm films of jam sessions and jazz performances from the 1960s and 1970s. As the men go through the boxes and begin the painstaking process of preservation, Juma recalls the players, places, and time period when free jazz exploded then fused with the political momentum of the Civil Rights era. This true story documents "The Aboriginal Music Society" Archival Project, which was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Available exclusively as an e-publication, Reel History's expressive and glowing black-and-white illustrations are augmented by audio clips and haunting silent video from Juma Sultan's unique archive. This is an invaluable history for jazz historians and readers in the digital age.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Series: Music/Interview


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 1-4


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pp. 5-5

December 10, 1970

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pp. 6-6

Part 1. Search

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'RĂ©al to Reel

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pp. 8-19

Some years ago I wrote the following passages:

"My daughter's arm's-length tattoo is a narrow and delicate vine that wends its way from the back of her right hand to her shoulder and then ascends precipitously along the slender ridge of her collarbone.... luminous pigments that turned...

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pp. 20-39

I had no plan. When the novel tanked, I guess my research reflex kicked in. That's really the only explanation for the letter below.

None of my previous research focused on the music business. But interviewing people has been a part of my skill set since Graduate School. Off went the letter....

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pp. 40-47

My colleague Johndan could help me. Like me he had no academic expertise in music theory, music history, nor the music business. But he has written about issues of intellectual property in the digital age; He's an expert in new media, and he knew a bit about...

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pp. 48-61

I found the restaurant easily, a pizza joint not far from the thruway. I waited outside. When he drove into the lot, he opened his window and we confirmed our mutual identities. He suggested that I go in and find a table in the back where it is...

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The Barn

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pp. 62-104

OK, here we go, here we go... Dewey, 3rd St.

Rene McLean. You know? Jackie McLean's son? At Slugs. '72.

You see what I'm saying? That was one of his...

Part 2. Found

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True Creation

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pp. 107-126

Over the course of two years I interviewed Juma about his life and the music he played and documented.

I was an art student at UCLA. One night I went to a concert and I'm sitting by the stage in Los Angeles. Ray Brown was playing bass. It was about this close to my ear. The whole...

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We Were Conscious

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pp. 127-155

There was always a problem for space to play, especially if you were not noted. It was always a problem. You could play and get run out of your apartment. But for many, the opportunities to play at a club for an audience were few and...

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All Kinds of Experiments

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pp. 156-182

A friend of mine told me about an intermedia workshop near Woodstock.

A professor from SUNY New Paltz named Bob Likalla and his wife, Isabelle, they had 40 acres of property. Several large houses were on it and they were running an arts workshop.

It was called "Group 212" and they were receiving funding from the...

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'66 to '72 (My Archive)

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pp. 183-204

Juma continued to reconstruct his past as we traveled the back roads from West Saugerities to Shokan...

...until we came upon a scene that triggered memories of my past -- a chance occurrence that led me back to my archives in order to reconstruct a few scenes from the life I had lived in...

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A Blistering Statement

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pp. 205-237

It was 1972 when George Wein brought the Newport Jazz Festival from Rhode Island and moved the concerts to New York and we established the New York Musicians Organization.

Once we heard what his roster was of musicians, we saw that out all of the concerts that he was presenting he had very few...

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The Studio

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pp. 238-258

July 26, 2005: we arrange to take some tapes to a recording studio.

Here's Sonny Simmons on English horn. I'll look for some of Pharoah and then I'll just stop.

I might get carried away. I got Archie. I got Wilbur Ware. I got Hannibal. Oh man, that's hot....

Part 3. Lost

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pp. 261-281

In New York I was able to function out of Studio We, which was a five-story building and I always had adequate storage space there. After that, I had sort of a large studio in Brooklyn. It was still Aboriginal Productions but it was called "Home Recording Studio." There I had a big basement and I was always able to...

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pp. 282-295

I conducted my final interview with Juma in his office in 2007. We had arranged to talk in the room where he was now storing his tapes.

By that time, more than two years after we had removed the tapes from the barn, he had resurrected a reel-to-reel tape recorder and was occasionally reviewing tapes that appeared...

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pp. 296-299

In early 2010 I received an inquiry through the jumasarchive.org website from an independent record label owner who was interested in the possibility of releasing some of the music from the archive. Within weeks a second indie producer from another label contacted Juma with the same idea. By the spring I learned that Juma was negotiating potential commercial arrangements with both labels.

On June 15, 2010, Johndan...

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pp. 300-316

This is almost a forgotten period of our culture. It shouldn't be forgotten. It should be remembered and preserved.

Frank Lowe: performed with Rashied Ali, Sonny Simmons, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, Joseph Jarman, Alice Coltrane, Don Cherry, Milford Graves, Ahmed Abdullah, Billy Bang, Grachan...

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pp. 317-321

I cannot fully express the extent of my gratitude to Juma Sultan for both his generosity and his spirit. Both are powerful and expansive.

Also, great thanks go to:

Johndan Johnson-Eilola for his tremendous help in moving this project from whim to fruition. Johndan was the primary force behind jumasarchive.com....

E-ISBN-13: 9780819572851
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819572851

Page Count: 300
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Music/Interview
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 794180078
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Reel History