Dan Morgenstern Receives Prestigious Jazz Masters Fellowship Award
I first met Dan Morgenstern more than five years ago when I picked him up one Saturday morning outside his Journal Square apartment in Jersey City. Our destination was the Catskill Mountains home of the late George Handy, a genius experimental jazz composer/arranger from the 1940s’ and 50s’ with whom I had studied piano after getting out of the Army in 1970. Dan and I had never met until Handy’s widow, Elaine, asked us to drive up together that day to discuss archiving his scores, albums, and memorabilia with the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University in Newark. Dan Morgenstern is the director of the Institute, where he oversees the world’s largest collection of jazz-related material. Our two-hour drive to the mountains, that included a few wrong turns, was like my own personal history of jazz, in fast time. During the duration of our trip, as I asked Dan about some of the jazz greats and not-so-well-known players he had met over the years, he recalled stories and memories about the many musicians he was “lucky enough to meet.” We returned home to Jersey City that night; Dan had secured George Handy’s collection for the Institute, preserving his legacy for future generations of music lovers. And it was a ride that opened my eyes to a man whose life is jazz; and who loves every moment of it.