Guide to the Red Norvo Papers

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0858
Creators:
Corlin, Portia Norvo
Norvo, Red, 1908-1999
Dates:
1932-1998
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
4 Cubic feet
7 boxes
Repository:
Correspondence, transcripts of interviews, photographs, a biography, a discography, an award, printed material and other miscellany documenting the life and career of Red Norvo.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The Red Norvo Papers consist of correspondence, transcripts of interviews with Red Norvo, miscellaneous publications (catalogues, monographs, newsletters, pamphlets, programs), periodicals, articles and clippings, photographs, and several miscellaneous documents: various advertisements, a hotel receipt, liner notes, an award from Metronome, a biography prepared by Capitol Records, a Red Norvo discography, a concert engagement advertisement in the form of a postcard, a poster (Benny Goodman), and a Red Norvo concert tour itinerary.

Arrangement
Arrangement
Divided into 7 series: Series 1: Correspondence, 1939-1997; Series 2: Red Norvo Interview Transcripts, 1991-1993; Series 3: Miscellaneous Publications; Series 4: Miscellaneous Documents; Series 5: Periodicals, Series 6: Periodical Articles and News Clippings; Series 7: Photographs.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Along with Lionel Hampton, Red Norvo stands as one of the most celebrated and influential figures in the history of Jazz vibraphone. Norvo was born Kenneth Norville in Beardstown, Illinois on March 31, 1908. He began studying marimba at an early age and played in a rhumba band in 1925. After a brief stint as a tap dancer and conductor on the Vaudeville circuit, Norvo played xylophone with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. He later married the band's singer, Mildred Bailey, and together they were known as Mr. and Mrs. Swing. From the late 1930's through the early 1940's Norvo lead his own orchestra (with arrangements by Eddie Sauter) and his own sextet.
In 1944 Norvo switched permanently to vibraphone and joined the Benny Goodman Sextet. In 1945 the Red Norvo Selected Sextet (featuring Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie) recorded Hallelujah, Get Happy, Slam Slam Blues, and Congo Blues—an event that many critics regard as helping to commence the bebop era and the establishment of modern jazz. In 1946 Norvo played with Woody Herman's First Herd. But in Norvo's formative years it was the improvisational piano style of Teddy Wilson that most influenced his own style of play. In 1950 Norvo founded the Red Norvo Trio, which included Tal Farlow on guitar and Charles Mingus on bass. Norvo also performed and recorded with a quintet. He settled in Santa Monica, California and became a prolific recording musician with Capitol and other labels. Most of the essential singers of the period either performed or recorded with him: Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee to name a few. Norvo notably backed Sinatra on his Australian tour in 1959 and appeared with him in the 1960 film,
Ocean's Eleven
. In 1961 Norvo began to suffer hearing loss, a condition which worsened throughout the remainder of his life. In the 1970's he performed mainly in Las Vegas. He died April 6, 1999 in Santa Monica.

Administration
Processing Information
Processed by Matthew Landau Friedman, 2004.
Author
Matthew Landau Friedman
Immediate Source of Acquisiton
The collection was donated to the Archives Center by Portia Norvo Corlin on April 1, 2004.

Using the Collection
Restrictions on Access
Collection is open for research and access on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Preferred Citation
Red Norvo Papers, 1932-1997, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Gift of Portia Norvo Corlin.

Related Materials
Materials in the Archives Center
Benny Carter Collection (NMAH.AC.0757)
Milt Gabler Papers (NMAH.AC.0849)
Jazz Oral History Program Collection(NMAH.AC.0808)
William Russo Music and Personal Papers(NMAH.AC.0845) Jack Siefert/Woody Herman Collection(NMAH.AC.0659) Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection (NMAH.AC.0491)

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Awards Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Biographies Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Periodicals Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Clippings -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Vibraphone Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jazz Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jazz musicians -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews -- 1990-2000 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Music -- 20th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Corlin, Portia Norvo Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives