Where do the fascinating objects of the recent past end up? Papers decay, shellac discs break, photographs crumble. It’s either terribly sad or somewhat of a relief — if objects didn’t decay, we would be neck-deep in 1924 newsprint and cereal boxes.
John P. Cooper, my cyber-friend and vintage jazz and pop enthusiast, is wondering about a particular collection — the treasured paper ephemera of the composer and actor Henry Nemo, who died in 1999. Most of us know Nemo as the composer of DON’T TAKE YOUR LOVE FROM ME and ‘TIS AUTUMN. And some film buffs will recall him as “the Neem” in THE SONG OF THE THIN MAN. Below is the only photograph I have been able to find of Nemo online, authenticated by his daughter.
But until John directed me to Wikipedia, I hadn’t known of Nemo’s holdings — a veritable Alexandria of jive from the late Thirties. I don’t usually trust Wikipedia, but this sounds enticing enough to be accurate:
Nemo’s rare collection of jazz memorabilia documents 1930s music and his days at the Cotton Club, where he wrote the lyrics with Irving Mills and John Redmond for “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart” (1938), with music by Duke Ellington. In Nemo’s historical collection are original photographs which he took at the Cotton Club, plus Cotton Club memorabilia and a 1939 telegram from Ellington to Nemo, written in jive talk.
Calling Western Union! Do any JAZZ LIVES readers know where this collection might be and if it’s open to the public? Brush up your jive talk, please.