Bruce Boyd Raeburn is known to most people as the curator of the William Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University, a position he held from 1989 until his retirement on January 1, 2018. Together with his inspired and devoted team of researchers, Lynn Abbot and Alaina Hébert, he helped make “the little engine that could” into a accessible treasury of New Orleans jazz history and a unique public resource where academics, musicians, and enthusiasts alike could connect with the men and women who shaped the sounds of the city.
When he wasn’t sitting behind his desk at the archive, Bruce could often be found basking in the sun at a table outside the PJ’s Coffee House on Tulane’s campus, always friendly, helpful, and ready to share a story about the great men and women of New Orleans jazz.
But Raeburn also would remind us that the story of jazz isn’t just about the greats: “I think when we talk about jazz history, every guy that played jazz needs to be on the table,” he said in our interview. “We need to look at all of them. We need to be serious about the context in which we place those individuals.”
For our show, Raeburn is also sharing his story – one that sent him from his childhood home in New York City to the Bahamas, the West Coast, and eventually to New Orleans.