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`Blueberry Hill' added to list of preserved recordings

April 12, 2006|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A high school band plays Beethoven. President Calvin Coolidge delivers his inaugural address. Fats Domino turns "Blueberry Hill," a hit for big-band leader Glenn Miller, into a rock 'n' roll classic.

They're among the 50 records the Library of Congress deemed worthy of preservation this year.

"The National Recording Registry represents a stunning array of the diversity, humanity and creativity found in our sound heritage, nothing less than a flood of noise and sound pulsating into the American bloodstream," Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in announcing the choices for 2006.

The library took the occasion to announce a rare find: a 1940 jam session featuring tenor saxophonist Lester Young. The nightclub couldn't be positively identified, said Gene DeAnna, head of the library's recorded sound section, but it may have been the Village Vanguard in downtown Manhattan.

"It wasn't Carnegie Hall," DeAnna said. "At one point you can hear the emcee announcing, 'The chili con carne is ready, if anyone wants to order it.' "

Loren Schoenberg, executive director of the Jazz Museum in Harlem, compared it to finding a Shakespeare sonnet or a short story by Ernest Hemingway.

The library also announced that it had recently received 186 test pressings of records made in the late 1950s or early 1960s, among them 25 songs by bluesman Robert Johnson. The pressings, donated by blues collector Tom Jacobsen, were used to make the first Johnson reissue anthology, "King of the Delta Blues," which influenced the Rolling Stones and other groups.

The Modesto High School band did well in competitions of the 1920s and '30s. Few high school bands were recorded until the late '40s, making its 1930 version of Beethoven's "Egmont Overture" a rarity.

Coolidge, known as a man of few words, spoke for 47 minutes in the first broadcast inaugural address. A circuit of 21 radio stations was put together for the event in 1925.

Domino recorded his relaxed version of "Blueberry Hill," adding Creole cadences, in Los Angeles in 1956.

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