Sal Mosca business records, audiovisual recordings, and artifacts
- 1950 - 2007
Scope and Contents
The collection documents Mosca’s career as a teacher, recording artist, and performer, including materials from every decade of Mosca’s career after 1950. His professional papers date primarily from the latter years of his career and include datebooks, correspondence, ephemera, album royalty and music publishing documents, music scores, lyrics, awards, and a ledger. The collection also includes a large quantity of audiovisual recordings spanning the decades from the 1950s until the 2000s. Formats include compact disc (CD), digital audio tape (DAT), VHS video cassette tape, digital video disc (DVD), audio cassette tape, and open reel audio tape. These include sound and video recordings featuring interviews with Sal Mosca and recordings of him in solo performance and performing with others. The most significant materials in the collection are the audio recordings, as they represent nearly the entirety of Mosca’s live and studio recording sessions. Roughly half of these recordings are digital CD copies made by Mosca’s frequent collaborator, bassist Don Messina, some of which were provided courtesy of musicians who performed with Mosca. The collection also includes Mosca’s beige cashmere jacket, which he regularly wore during performances in his later years and wears on the album covers for Sal Mosca: The Talk of the Town, Live at the Bimhuis; You Go to My Head; and Sal Mosca, Recital in Valahalla.
6 Linear Feet (15 boxes)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is partially open for use. Some of the audiovisual media in the collection is currently open for visual inspection only. Access copies for listening and/or viewing may be created on request, if possible. Contact the Institute for details or to make a request.
Language of Materials
The collection includes sound and video recordings, music, datebooks, correspondence, and realia documenting the professional life of jazz pianist and educator Sal Mosca.
Biographical / Historical
Sal Mosca (1927 April 17 – 2007 July 28) was an American jazz pianist and educator whose career spanned the 1940s through the 2000s. Born in Mt. Vernon, New York, he started studying piano at the age of twelve and playing professionally and teaching lessons by the time he was 15. Mosca joined the United States Army in 1944 and played in and arranged for the United States Army Band until 1946. He subsequently enrolled at the New York College of Music and New York University as a music student. After graduating Mosca studied with jazz icon Lennie Tristano for eight years. Tristano’s instruction greatly influenced Mosca’s style as a post-bop, cool jazz performer and composer.
Starting in 1949, Mosca collaborated frequently with fellow musicians Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh on recordings and performances. For the next two decades, Konitz and Marsh were among Mosca’s most frequent collaborators, and Mosca would continue to play with Marsh until the 1980s. Beyond his work with Marsh and Konitz, Mosca was also the pianist for many historically significant recording sessions, including a 1951 date with Miles Davis and Max Roach, as well as many collaborations with Peter Ind. Mosca has appeared on over 23 record releases, both as a soloist and in various musical ensembles. Mosca’s solo performances always featured free improvisation, and a series of his solo concerts in Europe were recorded and released on several albums during his lifetime and posthumously. Although he recorded frequently over the course of his career, Mosca declined several record contracts and chose to remain an independent artist. He felt that remaining independent from commercial success would keep his focus on playing and teaching. Although he most frequently performed with his closest musical partners such as Konitz and Marsh, he also played with Billie Holiday, Bill Bauer, Roy Haynes, Kenny Clarke, Sarah Vaughn, and Stan Getz, among many others over the years.
After Mosca’s divorce from Stella DiGregorio in 1965, he converted a building in Mount Vernon, NY into an apartment and music studio where he gave music lessons for the rest of his life. Mosca’s role as a jazz music educator is central to his career and legacy. He taught hundreds of students during his lifetime, although at the end of his life, Mosca suffered from poor health, which negatively impacted his playing and teaching. After a January 2007 European tour, Mosca fell ill and never recovered. He died at the age of 80 on July 28, 2007.
The collection is arranged in three series and five subseries: 1. Business records, 1956-2006; 2. Realia, undated; 3. Audiovisual recordings, 1950-2007; 3.1. Recordings of Sal Mosca, 1982-2004; 3.2. Recordings from or by Sal Mosca’s students,1991-2006; 3.3. Recordings from or by other musicians, 1975-1995; 3.4. Uncategorized recordings, 1987-2005; 3.5. Recordings from Don Messina, 1950-2007
There are some unprocessed materials in the collection. Please contact an archivist for details.
Other Finding Aids
The Guide to Digitized Sal Mosca Audiovisual Recordings by Don Messina, provides detailed information about the recordings in subseries 3.5. This inventory includes a unique identifier for each recording, date, personnel, instrumentation, recording location, information about the original media carrier, song titles, related commercial releases, and commentary by Messina.
This collection was previously entitled "Sal Mosca business records, audiovisual recordings, and realia (MC 74)". The title was changed to "Sal Mosca business records, audiovisual recordings, and artifacts (IJS-0074) in 2021.
- Eric Horowitz, Don Messina, and Elizabeth Surles
- 2017 April
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Part of the Institute of Jazz Studies Repository
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John Cotton Dana Library
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