David Liebman, Grammy-nominated saxophonist and recipient of an NEA Jazz Masters lifetime achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts, has donated his personal archive to Berklee College of Music. Liebman worked with staff from Berklee’s library at his home in Stroudsburg, PA, organizing and packing manuscripts, recordings, photographs, and other memorabilia that now reside in the college’s Stan Getz Library.
The David Liebman papers and sound recordings (1955–2017) are a treasure trove of materials, including published and unpublished manuscripts by Liebman. The collection presents a comprehensive picture of Liebman’s professional and personal activities, from gigging and grant proposals, to teaching materials and memorabilia, with ample documentation of his recording career and professional exploits. Personal items include clippings, photographs, programs, posters, and more eccentric items such as T-shirt fragments.
“I am thrilled about the new relationship that has come my way with Berklee and my archives,” said Liebman. “Beginning in the 1960s, my collection of materials that reflect my artistic path is quite voluminous. To have the number one jazz institution in the world be the repository of my life’s work is beyond words.”
Liebman has visited the college a number of times, including as an artist-in-residence in the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, under the direction of founder Danilo Pérez. He also presented the International Association of Schools of Jazz Conference at the college in 2016, an organization he founded in 1989 and continues as its executive director.
“Our students have been honored by Dave Liebman’s presence and performances on our campus, and the devotion he shows to jazz,” said Berklee President Roger Brown. “He is a vital figure in this American art form, and his influence will continue to inspire musicians for decades to come with his archives on our campus.”
Liebman’s career in contemporary music stretches nearly 50 years. He has played with seminal artists including Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, and McCoy Tyner, among others. Books and instructional DVDs by Liebman are acknowledged as classics in the jazz field. He has made more than 500 recordings, many of them as a bandleader, and written several hundred original compositions in styles ranging from classical to rock to free jazz.
"Dave Liebman's work in music education has been a defining point of his musical career that has, rightfully, garnered him awards and international recognition as both an educator and a supporter of the arts,” said Larry Simpson, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost. “We are honored that he has chosen to share his invaluable collection with our students.”
Liebman’s collection has an especially large number of audiovisual materials of commercial recordings and live performances that he recorded or participated in on a variety of media. Ensembles represented include Liebman’s group, trio, quartet, and quintet; Expansions: Dave Liebman Group; Lookout Farm; and Quest. In addition to being a jazz musician who has recorded for several decades, Liebman is a passionate musicophile with a collection that spans genres. Within his personal collection, one can find Mozart, John Coltrane, Barbra Streisand, and Michael Jackson. His personal archives will provide jazz scholars and practitioners with an invaluable resource to study for years to come.