Jazzing up the Watkinson

   Posted by: rring   in New acquisition

The Watkinson recently accepted and took possession of some 4,000 sound recordings, mostly 78-rpm records from the 1930s, 40s and 50s (ca. 3,500), but also 33-rpm (ca. 900) and 45-rpm (ca. 300) records from the 1950s and 60s.

These recordings were collected by Bennett “Bud” Rubenstein (1917-2000), who was a jazz/swing/pop enthusiast who began collecting music as a teen, and often performed as a dee-jay at dance parties.  He was also a jazz pianist who went to Julliard Music School, but dropped out after a year because he was more interested in improvising than in theory or disciplined study.  World War II took him overseas, where he served in Italy and France.  He was a forward observer in the Army Field Artillery, managed his unit’s radio communications, and saw action in the Battle of the Bulge.

Returning with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, he married and had children, settling in Norwich CT and joining his father’s woolen mills business in Yantic–abandoning his hopes for a Big Band career.  He was a passionate collector and a great piano improvisor in his own right, both at family events and as an accompanist to musical productions at the Beth Jacob Synagogue in Norwich, CT.

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