UW-Eau Claire houses nation's largest jazz collection

(WEAU) – UW-Eau Claire is now the home of one of the nation's largest jazz collections of sheet music and recordings.

It all began April of last year, when retired UW -Eau Claire Music Professor Ron Keezer contacted Pete Peterson, a band leader from Texas about his jazz collection.

"He said it’s worth a couple hundred thousand and I said uhh we don't have that kind of money, he said ill sell it for 75, I said well ok," said Ron Keezer, Head Fundraiser.

Keezer raised that $75,000 in 9 weeks.

"When I found it, I went down and looked at it and it was like finding King Tut's tomb. I thought oh boy this is really something," said Keezer.

"There are all kinds of Duke Ellington recordings, Count Basey, tommy Dorsey, the Elkhart Brothers," said Keezer.

The University archivist says that it could take up to a year to organize 1200 pounds of sheet music and records and to keep it well preserved the vault is kept at 68 degrees and 45% humidity.

The collection is held at UW-Eau Claire's McIntyre Library and the archivist says the collection is astounding to have.

"When they come to the archives, we have them register with us. We want to know who our users are partially for security reasons but also as a way to get to know these users," said Greg Kocke, University Archivist.

To allow easier access to the public, the vinyl's are being digitized into Mp3 files.

"Because they are printed on vinyl, we don't want to have to be pulling out those same records year after year and have repeated use," said Kocken.

Keezer says the collection is named after John Buchholz, an English professor who still dedicates his life to jazz and his students.

"In 1962, he was one of the first jazz ensembles we ever had here. It's a real treasure trove,” said Keezer.

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