Donated Jazz Albums And Books Enrich WFBO, UB's Music Library Collections

By Jed Nitzberg

Release Date: June 5, 1997 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Mary Rossberg, wife of the late Robert Rossberg, a former host of several jazz radio programs on WBFO 88.7 FM, the National Public Radio affiliate operated by the University at Buffalo, has made two gifts to UB in honor of her husband's love of jazz.

The Williamsville resident has donated her husband's collection of approximately 1,000 vinyl jazz albums to WBFO and a collection of more than 300 jazz-related books and manuscripts to the university's music library.

"Music was such a significant part of Bob's life, as much as his teaching and administrative work," said Mrs. Rossberg. "The whole family felt that his love of music and UB made it only right that all of these things stayed at the university."

According to Bert Gambini, music director for WBFO, Rossberg's donated record albums are predominantly from the swing era, but also include styles ranging from Dixieland to pop instrumentals. The artists in the collection also are diverse and include such artists as King Oliver, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Spyro Gyra. While Rossberg was not a collector of rare or obscure music, many of the titles in the collection are now out-of-print or hard-to-find.

"This broad representation provides insight into why Bob's shows were so good," said Gambini. "He was a big band enthusiast, but his presentation wasn't rooted in the swing era. He understood and enjoyed both new and old music." Gambini also noted that the additions to WBFO reinforce the station's reputation as the premiere source for jazz programming in Western New York.

From 1977 until shortly before his death, in May 1996, Rossberg was a volunteer host and producer of several popular radio programs focusing on the history of jazz. Among them were "The Sound of Swing," distributed nationally over the National Public Radio Satellite System, and "The Jazz Singers."

Jennifer Roth, WBFO general manager, said: "It seems so right that Bob Rossberg's wonderful record collection is located here at WBFO. They will become a part of the Rossberg legacy, a living legacy that will delight listeners for years to come. We greatly appreciate this gift from Mary Rossberg and we are honored that she has entrusted the collection to our care."

James Coover, Ziegele Professor of Music and director of UB's music library, said the books and manuscripts are welcome additions to what already is an outstanding, comprehensive jazz collection. The collection has large numbers of books on the subject, discographies, sound recordings and jazz transcriptions.

The Rossberg books, which focus primarily on the history of jazz, include a large number of biographies on the lives of female singers. Also of special interest to Coover was the collection of notes and scripts from Rossberg's radio programs, which will be sorted and catalogued for long-term storage in the library's archives.

"Bob was a long-time friend of the music library," said Coover, who knew Rossberg for 30 years. "We all have a warm spot in our hearts for him."

Rossberg, who joined the UB faculty in 1956, held several key administrative posts, including vice president for academic affairs, during his 40-year career at the university. In his last administrative post, he served as interim dean of the UB Faculty of Arts and Letters from September 1990 to August 1991. He served as interim dean of the School of Health Related Professions from 1987-88 and interim chair of the Department of Psychology from 1988-89. He continued to teach part time following his retirement in 1994. He was a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology.

A fund also has been established in the Graduate School of Education in Rossberg's honor to enhance the study of counseling and human development.