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 Historic New Orleans Collection presents
the 19th annual Bill Russell Lecture
"The Life and Music of New Orleans Legend George Lewis"
Wednesday, April 11, 2018 • 6 p.m.
Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street

Admission is $25; $15 for THNOC members; and free for Caillot Circle, Jackson Society, Laussat Society, and Bienville Circle members. Reservations* must be paid in advance: wrc@hnoc.org or (504) 523-4662

George Lewis (1900–1968) remains among the most influential and widely imitated of all traditional jazz musicians. Lewis’s first recordings with trumpeter Bunk Johnson in 1942 launched an international revival of interest in authentic New Orleans music. Lewis soon became the most celebrated figure in authentic traditional jazz—after Louis Armstrong—with numerous international tours, concerts, and dozens of recordings. Although Lewis was completely self-taught, his style was marked by rhythmic arpeggios, scale fragments, and melodic phrases—all driven by his rich “singing” tone and genuine deep expression.

Dr. Michael White, the Keller Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Xavier University and a noted clarinetist, composer, and professor, will discuss the life, music, and importance of George Lewis. White’s Original Liberty Jazz Band will perform classic songs from the George Lewis repertoire.

* Reservations will be held until five minutes prior to the start of the program. Any reserved seats unclaimed at that time will be released to the public.