Don Phillips donates massive jazz collection to WWU


Don Phillips, a longtime Bellingham jazz aficionado, recently donated a sizable quantity of his music collection to Western Washington University's jazz program and music library.

Here are the details, according to Don, in his words:

"I have amassed a large amount of jazz materials over the last 60 years, but health issues now dictate a downsizing as my wife and I start planning to move from two-stories to one story in the near future.

"The overall donation has three components: More than 600 orchestrations (primarily big-band arrangements), most of which have already gone to Mike Allen, coordinator of the jazz program; about 600 books on jazz and pop, plus back issues of Down Beat magazine, music and instructional folios, and academic papers have gone to the WWU Music Library: and more than 2,000 vinyl (LP) jazz phonograph records, mostly big-band recordings, which will also be integrated next year into the music library holdings.

"All three of these categories reflect 60 years of collecting the music I've loved to hear and play. I've never thrown anything away, because nothing grows old to me.

"Parting with these collections would have been very difficult for me had they been sold off and dispersed to different and distant sites. I am very pleased that Mike Allen and Marian Ritter, music librarian at Western, recognize the value of these holdings, and that they are not only willing to house them in their respective areas, but also to allow me access to them as I pursue my musical interests.

"In a concert by WWU music department's jazz area concert on Dec. 6 at the Performing Arts Center Concert Hall, Mike directed the Western Jazz Orchestra through six arrangements, five of which were chosen from the donation.

"The donated orchestrations represent a wide variety of big-band styles, reflecting the evolution of jazz from the late 1920s to contemporary times.

"Jazz education got its start in the mid-1950s, in the midst of the beginnings of rock and roll. It got its start under the banner of the "Stage Band" movement when music publishers started to turn out big-band arrangements in an effort to establish the "big band" as a legitimate music education activity, providing an opportunity for students to perform in ensembles for concerts or dances in non-rock settings.

"My first band at Ohio State was formed in 1956, and we played some of the original stage-bands arrangements, some of which are included in the donation.

"According to Marian, my jazz books constitute one of the largest and best private collections housed within the nation's libraries. She is working with a select group of Northwest university libraries in establishing an electronic network for sharing digitized jazz publications and music. She will also oversee cataloging of the jazz record collection as it is integrated with other resource materials in the music library by 2015. Many of the donated orchestrations have been transcribed from recordings, and they can be heard on albums donated to the library."

Kudos to Don for providing such a legacy.


Bellingham's Rob Slater's resume reflects his interests in theater and music, but he neglects to include the fact that he was selected by Herald editor Dean Kahn for the 2013 collection of serial stories written by contributing members for his chapter in the post-apocalyptic "Memories of Light," set in Bellingham.

Perhaps that's what inspired "All is Silence," Slater's recently published debut novel, also set in Bellingham. He wrote portions of the book at Boundary Bay Brewery, and the students he teaches at Ferndale's Windward High School are, he says, getting in trouble for reading his book instead of doing their homework. But he does teach English and drama, after all.

A father of six and an actor and director in numerous local theater companies, it's not the first time Rob has ventured into the unknown future in his fiction. He has quite a list of stories and poems he has had published in various anthologies.

Since Rob has a serious interest in all things Shakespearean, I found the title of his book intriguing because of its oblique reference to one of the last lines in "Hamlet" ("the rest is silence").

I'm not going to be a spoiler, and besides, Rob's now writing the sequel to "All is Silence."

But you can talk to Rob himself at his book event (ask him about the e-book) at 7 p.m. Friday, March 14, at Village Books.


The Ferndale Arts Commission has issued a call to artists for the third annual Art in the Park to be held Sept. 13 and 14 in Pioneer Park.

Art in the Park will feature local artists, kids' art activities, artist demonstrations, and food and music. It's free and open to the public.

Artists will show and sell their artwork inside the Tillicum House and in Ferndale Library conference room, located next door at 2007 Cherry St.

The call is open to all artists who reside in Washington, and includes all types of art media.

The deadline to apply is July 11. For details, call Ellen McAnany at 360-410-0918 or go to, or email

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