The Bill Russell Lecture is an annual event at The Historic New Orleans Collection that focuses on New Orleans jazz. The Collection houses the William Russell Jazz Collection, which documents Russell’s lifelong study of New Orleans jazz and related musical forms such as brass bands, ragtime, and gospel music. Born Russell William Wagner (1905–1992), William Russell was a modernist composer as well as a jazz historian and collector who focused on traditional New Orleans-style jazz. He amassed an extensive collection of jazz memorabilia, including musical instruments, records, piano rolls, sheet music, photographs, books, and periodicals. His collection traces the development of jazz in New Orleans and follows the movement of musicians to New York, Chicago, California, and beyond. It encompasses notes from Russell’s research, audiotapes, programs, posters, correspondence, films, business cards, notes, clippings, and scrapbooks.


The 21st annual Bill Russell Lecture: "What is Jazz?", sponsored by The Derbes Foundation
Dr. Michael White presenting the Michael White Quartet
Wednesday, September 30, 2020 • 7 p.m.

Admission is free, and registration is required. This event will take place via Zoom.

Register now!

Jazz music is universally considered to be America’s most significant original contribution to the arts. Most agree that jazz was born in New Orleans; however, pinpointing its origins, and defining its meaning and musical makeup, is a bit more difficult. In this music-infused lecture, renowned jazz clarinetist, composer, historian, and Xavier University Professor Dr. Michael White will discuss early New Orleans jazz, including its musical influences, instrumentation, song types, and major figures. To help demonstrate the concepts presented—and address the central question, “What is jazz?”—the Michael White Quartet will provide musical interludes throughout the evening. 

Admission to this virtual concert is free, but registration is required.

This program is sponsored by The Derbes Foundation.