UCSC receives gift of rare audio interviews and photos of late '60s jazz and rock icons

John Coltrane (All photos by Frank Kofsky, courtesy of Special Collections)
Frank Zappa (New York City, 1967)
Jefferson Airplane performing at the Shrine Auditorium, February 1968 (from left, Marty Balin, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady)
Janis Joplin

The University of California, Santa Cruz, has received a gift of more than 1,000 photographs of renowned jazz and rock musicians from the late 1960s, taken by the late jazz scholar and historian, Frank Kofsky.

The collection includes 35mm slides, prints, and negatives of such recording artists as John Coltrane, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Ornette Coleman, and Archie Shepp. Of these photographs, only 36 have previously been published in books and journals.

The gift also includes approximately 100 audio recordings of interviews Kofsky conducted with these musicians, each approximately 30 to 90 minutes in length. Only two transcriptions of these interviews have been published, and none have ever been released in audio form to the public.

The collection was donated to the University Library's Special Collections by Frank Kofsky's widow, Bonnie Kofsky, who has dedicated it to the memory of legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. The gift includes a donation of $8,000 from the late jazz pianist Alice Coltrane--John Coltrane's widow, who died in January--to process and preserve the collection.

Frank Kofsky, a professor of history at California State University, Sacramento, and a frequent lecturer on jazz, died in 1997. He was the author of Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music, and its revised edition titled John Coltrane and the Jazz Revolution of the 1960s. Well known for his extensive interview with John Coltrane in August 1966, Kofsy also penned a number of reviews, articles, and essays about jazz, including several sets of liner notes for Coltrane recordings.

Christine Bunting, head of Special Collections at UC Santa Cruz, said that all of the material will be converted into a digital format for preservation and access reasons. "We're pleased to make these very rare materials available for teaching and research," said Bunting. "As primary sources, they provide stimulating insights into an important and exciting time in the history of American music."

The gift to UC Santa Cruz was facilitated by UCSC sociology professor Herman Gray and associate professor of American studies Eric Porter, with the assistance of Joan Baylie, a friend and student of Kofsky.

"The photographs are wonderful, but I am particularly interested in the interviews," said Porter, author of the award-winning 2002 book, What is This Thing Called Jazz? "These recordings provide researchers and students with valuable information about what participants in groundbreaking musical movements of the 1960s were thinking at that moment about the creative process, the broader social significance of their work, and their own roles as artists, activists, and workers."