Volunteers Jazz heritage

Our volunteers have organised our new Collection spaces, and as well as interviewed our founder for posterity, set up a system for digitising the reel to reel tapes.

Our thanks to (from left) Mike Buckley, Raymond Emmanuel, Deb Checkland, Gail Allen, Sandra Stone, Jen Wilson, Geraldine Buckley (all pictured) plus David Liscombe, David Reynolds, and Jackie Ford for their contributions.

The Jazz Heritage Wales Special Collections Library started as Women in Jazz Swansea which aimed to provide a unique resource for research and education, for creating exhibitions, and to promote and preserve the history of women in jazz, and of African American music in Wales. Since then, the Collection has broadened to include wider jazz collections.

It includes sheet and recorded music in whatever form; unique documents, ephemera, memorabilia and published works; photographs and works of art, artefacts and costume.

The lists below have been designed to highlight the unique Artists Collections by starting with them. After that are the Library Collections of items which have been published and therefore can be found elsewhere.


The Jazz Heritage Wales Artists Collections.

Name (alphabetical by surname) Donated By and when Significance Contents description Photo etc
Ivy Benson Brian Ravenhill 2010 Ivy Benson, was bandleader, composer and arranger of The Ivy Benson and her All Girls Orchestra for over 40 years.  They were household names from 1938 and throughout the Second World War, renowned for their renditions of swing and dance band music.  She toured extensively to American and British bases in the UK and throughout Europe, keeping her band on the road until the 1980s. A website http://www.ivybenson-online.co.uk, plus a box containing Oral Histories from members of the Ivy Benson Orchestra, correspondence, papers, VHS and DVD recordings. Ivy Benson Band
  Richard Arnatt 2017 Women referred to their time in Ivy’s Orchestra as “Ivy Benson’s University”, some going on to form bands and orchestras of their own. Papers, photographs and scrap books from the Ivy Benson Orchestra. Sheila Tracy was trombonist with Ivy Benson for many years and a musician of high standard in her own right. The Ivy Benson Scrapbooks alone are of great historical and cultural importance to Britain’s cultural heritage, tracing the life and times of a woman who was a pioneer in her own right and fought for the rights of women to be accepted in music at the same levels and standards as men’s orchestras. Ivy Benson’s battles and successes are preserved as a token of what that fight cost in personal and financial terms. Diane and ScrapBook
Bryden Friends of Beryl Bryden 1998 Ella Fitzgerald referred to Beryl as “the Queen of the Blues”.   Beryl sang and played washboard with the Chris Barber Band on the first hit skiffle recording with Lonnie Donegan “Rock Island Line” in 1955.   She was granted the Freedom of the City of New Orleans on 11th April 1973;  the plaque hangs in Jazz Heritage Wales’ archive room. Recordings, stage gowns, memorabilia and ephemera, donated by Friends of Beryl Bryden after her death in 1998.  Also diaries, The Louis Armstrong and Billie Holidays Awards, plus hundreds of photographs.  The Beryl Bryden Oral History, undertaken by Jen Wilson, received a “Highly Commended” Award from Melvyn (later Lord) Bragg, at the British Library National Life Story Awards in 1994.
Gracie Cole Co-ordinated by Diana Lusher
Gracie Cole was made a freeman of the City of London in 1990. An important collection such as this helps historian to piece together not only the life and time of the famous Ivy Benson Orchestra, but also the minutia of the women who served within its ranks, no long “hidden from history”, but now accessible for future generations to study and learn from. Papers, memorabilia, tapes and photographs preserved from the life of Gracie Cole, trumpeter with the Ivy Benson Orchestra. Gracie Cole went on to run her own bands for many years, broadcasting with guest singers including (Dame) Cleo Laine. Gracie Cole
Duke Ellington Dr Barry and Mrs Morag Stern 1992   The complete recordings and broadcasts of Duke Ellington (1899-1974), along with books, covering The Duke’s 50 year contribution to jazz music. Awaiting photo
      50 years of recorded Jazz 1917 – 1967. Discography collated and compiled by Walter Bruyninckx. 55 volumes (1968) Black Binders
Blanche Finlay Blanche Finlay Blanche opened and ran The Ebony Club in Manchester, the first of its kind, which functioned as a multi-cultural and educational centre during the day.  Blanche’s stage gowns reflect the glamorous fashions of the day from the 1950s to the 1990s. An Oral History, and many donated stage gowns from her career as a jazz, blues, gospel and cabaret singer.  Blanche’s career spans the burgeoning multi-cultural era of the 1960s, to singing in recent gospel choirs. Lady in white dress
John Goodrich Jeff Towns, Dylans Bookshop, Swansea, 2010 and 2016

John Godrich, together with Robert M. W. Dixon, compiled “Blues & Gospel Records 1902 – 1943 which has been dubbed ‘the bible for collectors of pre-war African-American music”.  www.bluesworld.com

Our copy of Blues & Gospel Records has been on our shelves for about 15 years and we never knew that John Godrich was Swansea born and bred…..

Books, pamphlets, correspondence, and approx. 500 hours of reel-to-reels of early blues recordings. Man speaking on mic
Cleo Laine Cleo Laine, 1995  

One blue-purple beaded Stage Gown worn at Carnegie Hall in 1999 at the 25th Anniversary Concert of the first time Dame Cleo performed there.  The concert was recorded and released as an album called ‘Live in Manhattan’.  This gown was also worn when Dame Cleo appeared at The Hollywood Bowl on 13th August 2003 in a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.
Two other Day and Stage Gowns.

One copy of her autobiography Cleo by Cleo Laine, Simon & Schuster Ltd., 1994

Stan Tracey Professor Sir Deian Hopkin   Manuscripts by Stan Tracey (OBE) of Under Milk Wood Suite, scored for piano, bass, drums, and saxophone in 1965, and updated with trumpet scores for Swansea’s Year of Literature 1995 for (Sir) Deian Hopkin’s band Neges (Message).  The 1995 scores were commissioned by The Arts Council of Wales for performance at Brecon Jazz Festival and touring. There are also three additional scores: Stepaside, Brandy Hill and Cold Blow. This is a significant donation of work from a world reknowned composer Stan Tracey, who was inspired by the work of Dylan Thomas. Awaiting photo of Neges
Sheila Tracy Chris Vezey
Sheila Tracy was trombonist with Ivy Benson for many years, and went on to host the flagship Jazz Programme at the BBC.

WAV Portable Drive, of 25 years of SHEILA TRACY AT THE BBC, interviews and performances, including with Ivy Benson.

It is stipulated that this donation is for university use and general research. Any professional use or use in any media or broadcasting, should be referred to Chris Vezey.

Jen Wilson Professor Jen Wilson, 1986 onwards  

19 Oral Histories of Women Jazz Musicians, typed and on Tape, and associated books, records and published research, relating to women musicians and vocalists, including Jen Wilson’s 1996 University of Wales M.Sc (Econ) dissertation Syncopated Ladies: British Jazzwomen 1880-1995 and their Influence on Popular Culture, reflecting the politics, feminism and social history of women’s lives in jazz music.

References to primary source material from the Cambrian Newspaper archive, relating to the contribution made by Wales to a national jazz identity.

Research papers on slavery, and the Underground Railroad in America.

Tangy Wilson     Asian Festival Gown c1900. The oldest Stage Gown in the Collection.

The Jazz Heritage Wales Music Library Collection

Name Donated by Significance Contents  


Doug Griffiths
(c. 1932  – 1993)
Margaret Griffiths in 1995. Doug Griffiths grew up in London and frequented The Flamingo, The Marquee, The 100 Club, and Ronnie Scott’s jazz clubs, and became friends with many famous jazz musicians Doug was a prison officer at Swansea Prison for many years and was much respected by his colleagues and the inmates for his love of music and his educational endeavours with Young Offenders.  . Collection of 78s, LPs, cassettes, CDs, VHS tapes, periodicals, journals, and books reflecting Doug’s interest in Big Bands and Bebop.  
The Leeds Collection Mrs. Davies of Leeds, in 1995   An extensive collection of early jazz records on reel-to-reel  
The Harry Turner Enid Turner, of Swansea in 2000   A collection of LPs reflecting Harry’s interest in the Golden Years of Swing.  
Brian Harvey Dave Puddy Brian Harvey, one of the first employees in Doug Dobell’s famous Charing Cross Road jazz record shop and a notable journalist, author and contributor to Just Jazz. Books magazines, and CD Collection.
Tanjy Wilson Collection Tanjy Wilson The oldest stage gown in the Collection. c1900. 1 Stage gown In Catalogue
Derek Gabriel   Derek became a part of Swansea Jazz Club when it was formed in 1949. Derek Gabriel is probably responsible for this photo of the founders, and many others An extensive photo library of local and international Jazz musicians.
Valerie Ganz   3 original Jazz Paintings   In Catalogue
Carol Ann Jones Collection     3 stained Glass ‘Women’s Jazz Archive’  
  The Library     Photos of library and books In catalogue
  Music Players Photos and some details   In catalogue
        In Catalogue