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Bill to Create Jazz Institute Does an Encore : Legislation: The fate of the program at Cal State Long Beach now rests with Gov. Wilson, who vetoed an earlier plan. The institute would help preserve jazz by establishing an archive of recordings and memorabilia.


Long Beach — A bill that would establish an Institute for the Preservation of Jazz at Cal State Long Beach is back on the desk of Gov. Pete Wilson, who vetoed a similar proposal last year.

The bill's author, Assemblyman and jazz aficionado Willard H. Murray Jr. (D-Paramount), said he's optimistic that the governor will have a change of heart and is prepared to "sell the virtues of the plan" to Wilson this week.

"Jazz is one of the few art forms that is purely American," Murray said after the legislation was passed 52-21 by the Assembly on Monday. It passed the Senate last week, 27-3. Murray also has argued that jazz is one of the great contributions that African-Americans have made to American society.

The institute, he said, would help preserve jazz by establishing an archive of recordings for music students. Instruments, literature and photographs of jazz greats also would be kept at the institute, he said.

The center would sponsor performances by established and aspiring jazz musicians and create an education program to revive what Murray calls a fading interest in jazz among young people.

"The children don't hear jazz anymore. It's not played on the radio and it's not played at their concerts," he said. "When I was young, I heard jazz all the time. I'd like to get that back in the schools."

The institute also would play a role in educating college students, perhaps through lectures broadcast over public radio.

Donald Para, chairman of the music department at Cal State Long Beach, said professors have a hard time squeezing in extensive lectures on the history and significance of jazz.

"There is so much competition in the basic music appreciation classes now," Para said. Music from popular shows such as "Les Miserables" or "Phantom of the Opera" and multicultural music get more class time, he said.

Murray's bill does not specify how much money would be needed to create the institute, but concedes that some public funds probably would be necessary for its start-up, which could cost close to $100,000, according to one legislative estimate.

When Wilson vetoed the same bill last year, he said he would support similar legislation if it were funded entirely through private sources. Murray reintroduced the legislation earlier this year in hopes of persuading Wilson to change his mind. Wilson declined to comment on whether he will sign or veto the bill.

The legislation stipulates that no university money could be spent on the institute, but employees could offer technical assistance in running the center.

In selling the proposal to the Assembly, Murray emphasized that no public money would be appropriated from the state's general fund to run the institute. A volunteer advisory board would be appointed to seek grants and endowments such as those from the National Endowment for the Arts or private donors.

Seeking grants for such a project is not unusual, Murray said. "There is a great precedent for using public funds for the arts."

Officials at Cal State Long Beach have agreed to raise as much as $50,000 in private donations to help cover the start-up and maintenance of the institute, university spokeswoman Toni Beron said. The university supports the bill, as it did last year, she said.

Cal State Long Beach is an apt choice for such an institute because it has a long tradition of supporting jazz and the blues, she said. Not only does it help support campus radio station KLON-FM, one of the few stations that plays jazz and blues in Los Angeles, but it also is the site of a jazz and blues festival each fall.

Jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and Buddy Collette, a Los Angeles-based composer and musician, offered support for the project.

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