Jesse Stewart needed 60 boxes to transport Jacques Emond's 4,000 vinyl records to Carleton University © Brett Delmage, 2014
Jesse Stewart needed 60 boxes to transport Jacques Emond's 4,000 vinyl records to Carleton University © Brett Delmage, 2014

A year after his death, Jacques Emond's huge collection of jazz CDs and vinyl records lives on at Carleton University. They are a vital part of the tens of thousands of music recordings and scores which have been recently donated to or acquired by Carleton University – now making its music collection of more than 70,000 recordings one of the largest among Canadian universities.

“We had a minimal jazz collection, that consisted almost exclusively of CDs,” Carleton U music professor and Juno-award-winning jazz musician and improviser Dr. Jesse Stewart told

He was very much hands-on in helping grow the jazz collection in the last six months: purchasing boxes to move the music to Carleton University and packing and transporting the LPs. (He even used one of the sixty empty cardboard boxes as a startling musical instrument at the 2013 IMOOfest [review])

“I feel like Carleton will now have one of the best collections of any Canadian university in terms of recorded jazz.”

Ron Sweetman, a longtime friend of Emond, and a fellow jazz radio show host (at CKCU-FM for 38 years) was personally familiar with Emond's recordings. He described the acquisition of Jacques' recordings emphatically.

“Jacques had a first-class jazz collection and they're bloody lucky to have it.”

Emond was well known to and loved by area jazz fans. He hosted CKCU's Swing Is In The Air program for two decades, and shared many tracks from his recordings on-air. He was also a keen fan of live jazz, perhaps best known to thousands of area jazz fans as the founding programming manager of the Ottawa Jazz Festival. He retired from the festival in 2010, but continued at CKCU.

His vinyl records have found a welcoming and special home, if ironically in the building furthest away from the Carleton U music school, in the Audio Visual Resource Centre (AVRC) in the St. Patrick's Building. They are neatly organized in a cozy room, complete with a turntable and amplifier, which is known as the Emond Collection.

“It's a busy room now. It's the vinyl revolution,” said an enthusiastic Nancy Duff, the supervisor of the AVRC.

Jacque Emond's vinyl records were well-cared for    photo ©Brett Delmage, 2014
Jacque Emond's vinyl records were well-cared for    photo ©Brett Delmage, 2014

The Emond vinyl collection itself consists of approximately 4000 records (see the listing below). Another 6000 CDs came with them, as Emond's widow, Cecile Emond, wanted to keep the collection together. Housed in the main MacOdrum library, they are a a part of the new, explosively-growing Jacob Siskind Music Resource Centre.

That collection was started by a donation from Jacob Siskind's estate that was received in 2011: approximately 20,000 LPs, 8,000 CDs, and 2,600 78-rpm records. Siskind built this collection while he was the Ottawa Citizen dance and (classical) music critic from 1980 to 1993, and throughout his 48-year career. He was a lifelong reviewer, critic, and performing arts editor in various Montreal and Ottawa newspapers and worked on CBC radio's classical music programs.

At the same time that Cecile Emond was arranging the donation of Jacques' recordings, CBC Ottawa was divesting itself of their physical recordings. They contacted Stewart to see if he wanted any CDs, knowing him from a prior story they aired about his performance with multiple turntables. At CBC, he discovered about 25,000 CDs in all genres, including a lot of Canadian music, and realized their collective value.

“I pitched this to my colleagues – I said this is a really valuable collection given the history and emphasis of Canadian studies at Carleton U. Canadian music has been a pretty major area of research in the music program for many years.”

Before long, and with keen support from his colleagues, 20,000 more CDs, including 4,000 mainly Canadian jazz CDs, were rolling into the Jacob Siskind Music Resource Centre.

“Shortly thereafter, there was another donation of yet another major collection, of mainly modern jazz on CD, something in the order of four thousand CDs,” Stewart said, citing a donation from Canadian music recording collector John Scholes.

And yet another collection donation is in the works: thousands of LPs and 78s. “It's an extraordinary collection of 78s, probably one of the best private collections in the country,” Stewart said.

Jacques had a first-class jazz collection
and they're bloody lucky to have it.
  — Ron Sweetman

Today, there's obvious enthusiasm and growing pride by Carleton University's music program teachers and librarians about the university's notable music collections and their value to students, researchers, and the greater community. But it wasn't always that way. The university missed a significant collection (the estimate varies between 10,000 and 17,000) of “mainly jazz and some blues” LPs, 2,000 78s, and approximately one-thousand books that Ron Sweetman donated to Brock University about five years ago.

“Before I found out about Brock, I went to Carleton and said 'I've got all these LPs', and they said, 'Oh, they're great. We can put them out on the shelves and the guys can borrow them when they're having parties.' I am serious. And I said, 'Well, OK. Sorry I troubled you.' [laughing] And I got out of there as fast as I could,” Sweetman said.

Nobody at the university talked to me about spinning disks at parties. Rather, those involved now refer to the recordings with words like “a scholarly resource” - but not with the stuffy, ivory tower attitude that might imply.

Duff said that the Emond collection was already open to “individuals with a research purpose”. Access simply has to be scheduled in coordination with student and university researcher access.

“We'll see in time how the Siskind Centre is used, but from my point of view, if the Siskind Centre can become a major community facility that the community will turn to, not just the university community but the broader Ottawa community, that would be a thrill,” Dr. James Wright said.

Carleton University's music collections by the numbers

From Jacques Emond

  • 4000 vinyl LPs (jazz)
  • 6000 CDs (jazz) view

From CBC Ottawa

  • 20,000 CDs (4,000 jazz)

From John Scholes

  • 4,000 CDs (jazz)

From Jacob Siskind (classical)

  • 27,000 LPs (includes some LPs from the Music school)
  • 8,000 CDs
  • 2,600 78s
  • 1,500 cassettes

Others (existing collection)

  • 39,000 scores
  • 9,000 CDs and other audio
Source: Wayne Jones, Collections and Library Development, Carleton University Library

Professor Wright, the music school's supervisor of performance studies, is also its library representative. It's a role that is typically more mundane, but has clearly been much more interesting while he has been actively involved in the musical recording acquisitions. He recognized the role of people outside Carleton's music school in enabling collections like Emond's to find a good home there.

“The incredible thing is that the library and our acquisitions staff have really welcomed these acquisitions. I know there are many libraries that would just say, 'It's just too much to catalogue and too much for our staff to deal with.' But we've been really lucky. We've had their support and that's key. It doesn't matter what we might want to do, at the end of the day, if the library staff says we don't know where to put these things or we don't have time to catalogue them, then you're done. But they've been very supportive.”

Will all the work and cost of transporting, properly shelving, and cataloguing Jacques Emond's and the tens of thousands of other jazz and other recordings: CDs, LPs and 78s, be worthwhile?

“Time will tell whether the students will use vinyl... I think they will. There seems to be a little movement among 20-somethings to really get into vinyl,” Wright said.

Stewart is not one to shy away from the modern – his Ottawa performances have included lasers modulated by drum skins, and a Reactable sampling controller – but he is also enthusiastic about the acquisitions of older jazz recordings . “My casual observation would suggest that there's quite a bit of material here that was not re-released on CD,” Stewart observed of the Emond vinyl collection.

“Not too many people spin 78s but to me there's real historical value in having the original pressing of Charlie Parker's first recordings on the original 78s. Or having an original pressing of the very first jazz recordings on the original by the original Dixieland jazz band or the original Hot 5s and 7s by Louis Armstrong."

"It will be a nice complement to what we have already.”

    – Brett Delmage

Updated 2015 January 7 to include the Emond vinyl collection listing.

View photos of the Emond vinyl collection

See also: Remembering Jacques Emond's life-long love of jazz

Browse the listing of the Emond vinyl collection, located in the Carleton University Audio Visual Resource Centre
Note: This listing is not the official catalogue, which is not fully compiled as of 2015 January 7.

Browse the Emond Jazz collection of CDs in the MacOdrum Library
Note: Cataloguing of this collection is ongoing as of April 2014.  View catalogue in a new tab/window
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Photos of the Emond vinyl collection in Carleton University's Audio Visual Resource Centre
All photos ©2014 Brett Delmage