Judith Freeman: Fellowship Recipient

Judith Freeman: Fellowship Recipient

Freeman: I came here not quite knowing exactly what I would do once I looked at the Ross Russell archive. My primary interest isn’t music or jazz. It’s noir and Raymond Chandler and Los Angeles. Because I knew there was some of this material, I thought perhaps there would be another book on Raymond Chandler. And the more I got into the Ross Russell archive, the more interested I became in jazz and in the fact that Ross Russell was one of the first to really record Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, bebop, and many of the jazz greats. I began to see that there was a connection between Ross Russell writing an autobiography of Raymond Chandler and his interest in jazz. These two great American art forms–one is noir film and literature, and the other, of course, is jazz and bebop. It’s always exciting for me to go through an archive and handle original material. To actually see a letter with Raymond Chandler’s signature on it. To see Ross Russell’s photographs of these great jazz musicians. There are some real treasures that are turning up, some diaries that Ross Russell kept, and some accounts of road trips that he took very early on with Louis Armstrong. These appear as vignettes and stories that I haven’t read anywhere else. Most of this material that I’m looking at hasn’t been published. It’s so exciting. There would be no other way for me to get these glimpses into the discoveries that Ross Russell was making about Raymond Chandler without going directly to the archive because much of this material simply hasn’t been reprinted anywhere or written about. What, for me, distinguishes the Ransom Center is that it’s so accessible, and it’s so open. And everyone is so eager and ready to be helpful. It’s a wonderful place to work for that reason.

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