In 2014, the family of Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis was looking for a home for his personal collection. They were referred to the National Jazz Museum in Harlem by the widow of another jazz giant, Mrs. Frank (Cecelia) Foster. As a native New Yorker and given his close connection with Harlem, it was a natural fit to bring the “Jaws” collection home. The Museum’s Founding Director and Senior Scholar Loren Schoenberg traveled to the Davis home in Las Vegas, and carefully boxed and shipped the large archive back to the Museum.
The collection comprises a wide variety of photographs, scrapbooks of contemporary press maintained by Davis’ mother, clothing, and all sorts of personal memorabilia—matchbooks, nightclub cards, contracts, set lists—that are of great value as historical artifacts. Highlights include Davis’ Selmer tenor saxophone as well as many jackets and suits that were featured prominently on his album covers.
As part of the exhibition, an interactive multimedia kiosk was installed enabling Museum visitors to explore Davis’ music, photos, and his place in the history of Harlem. We thank the National Endowment of the Arts for their support, which allowed us to digitize the Davis scrapbooks and to create this portion of the exhibition.