Clarkson University faculty research results in new release of ‘lost’ jazz recordings
Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 2:12 pm



"Whispers from the Archive" by Juma Sultan’s Aboriginal Music Society.

POTSDAM -- Research by Clarkson University Communication and Media faculty has resulted a second time in the release of music by a significant, independent jazz record label.

Porter Records recently announced it was releasing “Whispers from the Archive” by Juma Sultan’s Aboriginal Music Society.

Recorded in the 1970s in New York City by musician, producer, and artists’ rights advocate Juma Sultan, the original tapes were lost and forgotten for decades until Stephen Farina and Johndan Johnson-Eilola of Clarkson’s faculty and Juma Sultan recovered them in 2005 from a barn outside of Woodstock.

In 2006, the three received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to begin developing that discovery into the Juma Sultan Archive, a collection of music, film, photos, and posters that document an era of New York City arts known now as the Loft Era.

The technical studio work to transfer the original reel-to-reel tapes to digital form was done by Grammy Award winning audio engineer, Warren Russell-Smith, who won Best Historical Album for his work on Woody Guthrie: The Live Wire in 2007.

The liner notes were written by ethnomusicologist Michael C. Heller of the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

At Clarkson, Farina is chair of the Communication and Media Department and teaches a variety of media and writing courses. He recently published the book Reel History: The Lost Archive of Juma Sultan and the Aboriginal Music Society (Wesleyan University Press, 2012).

Johnson-Eilola is a professor of communication and media and teaches courses such as audio production, information architecture, and typography.

This team, along with Sultan, is continuing to work together on future releases from the collection.

In 2011, the first release from the Sultan Archive, Father of Origin (Eremite Records) was widely praised by reviewers (labeled “a cool, collected document” by the New York Times’ Ben Ratliff), made numerous jazz journalists’ “Best of 2011” lists, and was chosen as an “Editor’s Pick” in the December 2011 issue of Downbeat magazine.

The new release is available as either a digital download or CD through

An overview of the Juma Sultan Archive can be seen at